Instead of the obvious “I run a little handmade pottery shop,” I go for the broader, more full-bodied answer, “I’m in the tourism business,” a distinction that rings with a slightly happier tone.
Which is to say, if making pots is fun, which it certainly is, then mingling with tourists is a full blown hoot.
There’s good reason for this. After working your tail off all year, you finally get some vacation time (even the anticipation of a vacation can make one giddy). Then that wonderful day arrives – the day you get your life back.
You’re free from the job and its headaches. You leave nagging responsibilities behind. You load the car with lots of play things and your best funwear. Then everyone you love piles in (Toto, too!) and fights for a good window seat.
As you pull away you’ve got a wad of cash in your hip pocket, an open road, a smile on your face, and – best of all – for the next two weeks you own every minute of everyday. It all belongs to you.
I think one of the secrets of good living is to know what happiness looks like when it flops down on your lap. And that car headed down the road to adventure with those people inside trying to fold up the road map – that’s happiness!
Now, the chances that their fun-mobile and my little pottery shop will meet up somewhere down the road are pretty darn good. And when that moment occurs and they pull to the curb – noses to the window, wide-eyed and eager — something remarkable happens.
Their happiness touches my life.
I ask myself all the time: how lucky am I to work in a business where people walk in the door smiling and happy (I bet doctors and lawyers can’t say that).
This makes my job real simple.
I just enjoy their fun. Then see if I can’t give it a little spin, sending them down the road happier yet.
Jerry DeMartin operates Prairie Fire Pottery, a small handmade pottery shop in western North Dakota.