What Men Are For

When I was thirteen, my father lost his job. He was hardly alone: this was in the early 1980s in the UK, and he worked in manufacturing. It took months for him to find work. Each morning he would appear at the breakfast table, freshly showered, in a shirt and tie. Then he would go to his desk to check for new job postings and send out résumés.

One day I asked him, “Why do you still dress so smartly when you don’t have a job to go to?” He looked at me and said, “I do still have a job. My job is to get another job so I can take care of all of you.” I’ll never forget that moment. I saw, for the first time, that Dad’s job wasn’t just that mysterious thing he went off to do every morning. It was a manifestation of the relationship of care between him and the rest of the family.

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