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Why Did Moses Wander 40 years In The Desert? Musings On An Old Joke.

Why Did Moses Wander 40 years In The Desert?  Musings On An Old Joke.
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BY ELLEN FELDMAN (who at the ripe old age of 67 is starting her own business)

An old Yiddish joke:

Why did Moses wander 40 years in the desert? – Because men don’t ask directions. Johnny Carson rim shot on the drums, please.

But I’ve been remembering as story I heard in Sunday school. The Rabbi was talking about why did Moses did wander 40 years in the desert; if God was going to grant the Hebrews the Promised Land, why didn’t he just do it. Why wait 40 years?

Because the Hebrews had been slaves and they thought like slaves. It took 2 generations before they thought like a free people. Self-determination does not come overnight.

I’ve been working for other people for 32 years. I’ve always had other people to tell me what to do. These people have had different opinions about my level of competency; and they have had different levels of competency themselves. But they have always been there.

People say “other people telling you what to do” as if it is completely a bad thing. As I stare out on my desert of self-determination, it does not seem all bad.

I wake up in the morning and think “What the hell am I going to do today?”

Getting a solid, branded web-presence for a new business is an over-whelming task. I’ve commissioned graphic art because I thought clip-art looked tacky. Now I’m chasing contractors who don’t finish work on time. I approach Linked-In with fear and loathing. It’s a dreadful site but apparently absolutely necessary. I’m getting a degree in Entrepreneurial Skills from the city & state workshops. I’m learning how to do a Wix website for free at a Senior Center.

Actually, some of it – the new learning – is fun. But none of it is lucrative.

One other musing on my theme “Why did Moses wander 40 years in the desert?”; when I tried to tell – no, not ‘tell’, ‘reference’ – that old joke to one of my entirely Indian team at my last job, he stared at me blankly and said “Who is Moses?” I couldn’t believe it. It had been a year since I heard my own language in the break room; but this put my sense of alienation over the top.

I’ll grant that I am a stereotype American. “Freckle-faced, tee-shirted milk drinking baby; who never has ever seen fire in the sky.”.. Hoyt Axton. I only speak one language. I can sing all the words to the Gilligan’s Island theme and can’t remember my Gmail password. But I’m an American living in the city where I was born and I have been entirely edged out. This isn’t just out-sourcing; this is colonization. Multi-culture is no culture. No shared experience, no shared reference points, no shared jokes, no puns, no short-hand communication – and I’m scared of it.

Being my own business means I have to come up with a new style of communication, not just as a web-presence but in how I talk to the people in charge.

So off I wander in this entirely new and very uninviting land. I’m strong & well equipped in the sense that I have a valuable skill set, but I don’t know the language and I don’t know the route. At my age, I’ve got to hope it won’t take 40 years. Whenever possible, I’ll ask directions.

Ellen Feldman is starting her own business called: The Data Cleaning Lady

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