My dad has his set pieces, little speeches he gives to friends and cabbies alike. Often they’re well-rehearsed showcases for his views on the war or the organic-foods fad. One of my favorites is his spiel on the two smartest moves he ever made: marrying my mother (my parents fight like adders, but he’s a dedicated chivalrist) and becoming an engineer. The other day, I interrupted this now-familiar soliloquy to ask why becoming an engineer was such a good move. “My job gave me joy,” my dad responded. I asked my mom, a driven careerist before her stroke, whether her job had given her joy, and she said she couldn’t remember. So I asked a few of my friends whether their job gave them joy. And nary a one could say it did. One friend, K, said her husband’s job gave him joy—but resulted in loneliness and solitary dinners for her.