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Try occupying my life for a while

I'M too pooped to tea party. And I'm too busy to occupy Wall Street, Sesame Street, your street or my street.

But I do have some complaints. So I decided to have my own occupation.

I worked my occupation into the regular course of the day, so I wouldn't have to take any breaks — except to construct the signs I carried defiantly.

Oh, sure, my signs resulted in some staring and comments — but isn't that the point? How can you change the world if no one notices?

I used white computer paper, Scotch tape and the handle of a toy Styrofoam hammer to create my first protest sign: "I get too much e-mail!"

Then I held my sign aloft with one hand while I clicked delete 612 times through my daily dose of ink jet cartridge deals and Nairobi scam emails.

My next protest was at lunchtime. I've been reading about the changes to the school lunch program. Apparently the school system has cut down on yummy stuff like salt and sugar and replaced those offensive ingredients with healthy substitutes.

This has resulted in breakfasts like "sunbutter banana muffin," lunches like "baked Cajun fish" and side items like "carrot raisin salad and kale greens."

Apparently it has also resulted in hungry chicken-nugget loving kids, cranky school cooks, frustrated parents and lots of food in the trash.

To which I say one thing: "Yum!"

So I held my next sign aloft while I occupied the office microwave. "School food tastes better than my stinky frozen lunches."

Bean soup and corn bread?

Steamed broccoli?

Chicken potato smasher?

OK, I don't know what that last one is.

But bring it on! I'm having semi-warm SmartOnes meals every day. I would love to smash a chicken and potato and eat it up.

After my less-than-satisfying lunch, I was satisfied for a while. I didn't occupy anything again until after dinner. Then I occupied the kitchen sink as I washed the dishes. This was a particular challenge because I needed both hands to wash.

I held the handle of my sign between my teeth. It said, "I don't have time to go to WVU football games or any other football games either."

A few weeks ago, when West Virginia University was playing its biggest game of the season against Louisiana State, I was at my mother- and father-in-law's 40th wedding anniversary celebration. To my way of thinking, Mountaineer football Coach Dana Holgorsen should have taken a few minutes to write them a congratulations card.

The week after that, as the home field crowd sagged on a rainy Saturday against Bowling Green, I was visiting my own parents.

As the Mountaineers prepared to take on Connecticut the week after that, Dana scolded me and everybody else. He wanted to see us all, starting at the ceremonial Mantrip march into the stadium.

"We have a conference game coming up this week at noon, but I can give you some excuses now. 'We're playing a team that's 2-3.' Well, they should be 5-0. 'We're playing at noon.' Well, who cares? Get up. 'The Mantrip' is at 9:45.' Are we going to have a good crowd or is nobody going to be there?

"Is the weather going to be 85 and sunny or 25 and snowing. It really doesn't matter because the coaches, players, trainers and everybody else is going to be there. That's what our job is, so what is the support people's job?"

Mantrip, meet guilt trip.

I did not occupy a seat at the stadium that day. Instead I mowed and trimmed the lawn and painted our living room and dining room. Admittedly, my priorities were askew.

Dana needed me. I let him down.

"And he belieeeeeeves in me; I'll never know just what he seeeeees in me. . ."

I hope the coach can find it in his heart to forgive me. But if he can't, then he's welcome to take a page out of my playbook and construct his own occupation sign. It can say, "Brad is full of excuses."

In the end, no change resulted from my occupation. I still get too much email, my lunches remain substandard, and I doubt if I make it to anybody's football game this year.

But my occupation made me feel better. Occupation, like charity, begins at home.

Brad McElhinny is the Daily Mail's managing editor. He also writes for http://blogs.dailymail.com/nerdliving/


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