In my recent three+ months of labor in Historic Jesse Hall on the University of Missouri campus here in Columbia I've met a bunch of folks. I meet professionals, students, a few visitors and, of course, I met the custodians: Raydell, Randy (from Memphis, thank you) and Mike. These guys are jovial and in good spirits especially considering that they work from 4:00am (ouch) until noon. Mike told me last week there are only the three of them to clean all four stories of the building. "This building is understaffed," offered Mike.
Earlier this week on my way to the Men's Room I saw a woman in the stairwell with a feather-duster on a stick. Greeting her I inquired if she was new to Jesse. She said that since her surgery and until the stitches came out she was on modified duty. She showed me the stitched wounds on her wrist indicative of carpal tunnel syndrome. She confirmed this was her ailment and that feather-dusting was a temporary alternative to whatever else she did. I wished her godspeed on her health and we parted ways.
He experience stuck with me. I pondered whether the University would be so flexible with me if I could not perform my duties. What tasks would be assigned to me should I require and request this modified duty? I like the sound of it. Modified duty. A change of scenery for sure.
Here are the top five things that I may request should I need to be placed on modified duty for whatever un-forseen reason:
1. Bicycle rental fleet mechanic. Mizzou now has a fleet of rental bikes. I see them always locked up at the same location but never checked out. If they get checked out they will eventually need some tuning. I could fix bikes if I was unable to be a radio producer/on-air announcer. I might not be good at it, but it would be something to keep me busy.
2. Meditation leader at AP Green Chapel. My parents got married at the AP Green Chapel in 1970. I have always had a special affinity for this small chapel in the droughty heart of the MU campus. So far as I know there are no regular meditation sessions held there, but if I need modified duty that could change. Maybe? I could do all-day sits and focus my marketing efforts on people who drive too fast and those who use the word 'fuck' too much in casual conversation. They and I can sit together during my imaginary modified duty period. I'll help them and me get all the anger out of our hearts.
3. Organic gardener. There are thousands of people who like to eat that work and learn on the MU campus. I could grow food for them should I need to be placed on modified duty. I proved this year that I am great at raising cherry tomatoes and basil and a poor grower of sweet potatoes.
4. Feather-duster. Someone has to do it. Pick me! (...should I require modified duty.)
5. Radio announcer. (Oh, wait. I am already a radio announcer.) Should I be unable to perform could I still do the same task? I think so. Film Critic and blogger Roger Ebert has someone read his words now that he can no longer speak them himself. I could put all my music into one audio file and find a willing student to record my words. They would get radio announcing experience. And I would get my modified duty.
All of this is, of course, pure speculation. Maybe my division doesn't mess around with modified duty. Maybe they just send you home until you are 100% again. Regardless, I have some ideas if the topic comes up in conversation. And depending on one's approach the feather-dusting and the meditation leader are functionally more closely related than I originally imagined.