Late one morning, headed for lunch in San Francisco, Charles drove toward one of the toll booths on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge. He heard loud music. It sounded like a party, or a concert. He looked around. No other cars with their windows open. No sound trucks. He looked at the toll booth. Inside it, the man was dancing.
“What are you doing?” Charles asked.
“I’m having a party,” he said.
“What?” Charles looked over at other booths; the other people were not moving inside. “What about the rest of the people?” Charles asked.
The man said, “They are not invited. What do those look like to you?” He pointed down the row of toll booths.
“They look like toll booths,” Charles replied.
“No, they look like vertical coffins!”
“What are you talking about?”
“I can prove it,” the man continued. “At 8:30 every morning, live people get in. Then they die for eight hours. At 4:30, like Lazarus from the dead, they reemerge and go home. For eight hours, brain is on hold, dead on the job. Keep going through the motions.”
Charles was amazed. He could not help asking, “Why is it different for you? You’re having a good time.”
The man looked at him. “I knew you were going to ask that. I’m going to be a dancer someday.” He pointed to the administration building. “My bosses are in there, and they’re paying for my training.”
He added, “I don’t understand why anybody would think my job is boring. I have a corner office, glass on all sides. I can see the Golden Gate, San Francisco, the Berkeley hills; half the Western world vacations here and I just stroll in every day and practice dancing.”
17 toll booths, 16 people dead on the job, and the 17th, in precisely the same situation, figured out a way to live.
Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
– Abraham Lincoln