This is the business of heart attacks. Heart attacks are a symbol of weakness, they yield jokes from our colleagues about what the doctor found when he opened up our chests for the bypass: bags of cheetos, Whopper Jrs–the high fat and sodium food gods that we whorshiped. The callousness evinced by this cavalier treatment of the manifestation of our colleagues’ weaknesses of chest are what make me sure that, though this job is regarded as a profession, a career; I do not belong here.
Everybody who works here has had a heart attack. Most of them before the age of 50. It is an epidemic that crosses the departments. Sales, Service, Parts, Administration, all equal candidates for a defect of the most sanguine of organs. Our customers wince and groan. We joke. I am not concerned for my heart, though I smoke like a bandit and do not eat as much whole wheat or tofu as I should. I am not sure whether carelessness of this magnitude is the reason for the heart attacks, as though we are predisposed by our attraction to this industry to have heart attacks, of if we are genuinely under more heart-wrenching pressure than our fellows in other professions.
Of course, as with all epidemics of bodily weakness, there is likely more subtlety than I am allowing here. But this is an example of the ways in which I think too much—or maybe I do not think enough of myself , since I continue in this business despite the way I am illfit. I have always been vocationally masochistic. Perhaps I am so convinced that I will succeed here because I am so different. I think I fear failure in a way that, for my colleagues, success is given. I am a woman in a man’s world.