Hell of a Guy
Freedom of Press is limited to those who own one - H.L. Mencken

Thursday, September 29, 2011



Not sure what is going on, but I have surmised my id (the deepest part of one’s personality) and my body are more prepared for my upcoming retirement than my conscious mind – retirement that just so happens to be a mere 49 days from today.  As the final curtain, so to speak, gets ready to drop, I find myself relaxed to the point of serenity, at peace, content.  This is sweet.

The first thing I noticed, once I fully wrapped my mind around not having a job anymore after November 18th, is how much better I am sleeping.  Several days over the past few weeks I have slept beyond sunrise, which is quite extraordinary.  This morning I slept until 6:31, and the only reason I awoke then was because The Nancy was rattling around in the bathroom – quiet is not in her vocabulary.  I did not even hear her radio alarm go off, which is the most obnoxious country music I ever heard blaring at a million decibels.  This is too cool, and I think I am going to really dig retirement.

I have a huge list of things I must accomplish before the autumn of my years catches up to me, that being my final day of work.  This week I purchased a laptop to replace the company-owned one I have used for three years.  I am checking on health insurance, which is a major expense to old retired people.  My plan includes purchasing my new company car, a 2011 Ford Explorer, if the price is right (The Nancy and I will own four vehicles if this works out), but we do plan on selling one we already have, should anyone wish to purchase a 2004 Infiniti G235 with 40,000 miles on it?  I am also thinking of beginning some kind of hobby like painting, modeling or just building bird houses (say what?) to keep my sanity intact.  I do plan to do a lot of reading and exercising, though I busted the treadmill yesterday and must purchase another real soon.  I have a Rosetta Stone Spanish course I want to begin over, mainly because I have forgotten nearly all that I learned when I put it down back in January.  And then there is always my writing.  The blog must go on and I want to try my hand at short stories.

All in all, I am finding it harder to motivate myself to do the job I am overpaid to do.  I suppose as much as I have fought it these past few years, I have fallen into the pre-retirement trap.  Self-flagellation seems to get me going, but I cannot continue to beat myself to a pulp every morning, the bruises are beginning to show.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Sunday, September 25, 2011

55 and Counting


I think without a moment’s doubt this is about the scariest time of my life.  The decision to end my working career is irrevocable at this point; it is too late to re-think it or undo it.  This die is cast in stainless steel, not that I have given much thought to continuing to work in any fashion – not even part time.  All of us know there is an omega to every alpha, a sunset at the end of each day, a final minute in the game.  I am ready for the end, the last day, and the beginning of another phase of my life, very possibly, according to some, the best phase.

My very first job began in 1960: I was an usher at the Senator Theater on York Road in Baltimore, Maryland.  It was a summer job and I made fifty cents an hour mostly cleaning up after thoughtless movie patrons that thought it was really a neat thing to do to leave their trash all over the floor, and their gum securely stuck under a seat or, even   better, stuck to the carpet in the aisles or the lobby.  I earned $150 while on vacation in the middle of my sophomore year, and that made the summer very special. I had never had that much disposable income before.  It was too sweet.

After graduation from the Baltimore City College (high school) in February 1962 – yet another story – I worked as a bank teller with The Equitable Trust Company for the unbelievable sum of $40.00 per week.  Now if you think that is a paltry salary, stand by?  I enlisted (also now accepted as the dumbest thing I ever did) in the United State Air Force in September, 1963 where I really got into the “little” bucks and my first monthly salary, a whopping $30.10, allow me to repeat that – thirty-two dollars and ten cents per month..  Even after getting married, the most I ever made in the military was just about $300.00 a month.

After discharge in from the service in 1967 I had a job doing collections for a finance company in Baltimore, going into some really totally unsafe areas of the city after dark.  Even now I cannot help but shudder when I think of some of the areas (aka ghettos) I entered after the sun had disappeared below the horizon – dark, very dark.  The things I did for $3900.00 a year.

I worked for an oil company for six years as a sales rep of sorts, sold residential real estate (but not well) for eight years making little or no money, and worked for Western Auto as a rep for three before hooking up with the sweetest job I have ever had, and one I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about in all my near twenty-nine years. 

Over the years I have often told people I do not make as much as I’d like to, but at this point in my life more than I need, and a hell of a lot more than I feel I am worth.  Prior to this job I had always been the consummate underachiever.  With this job came an opportunity for me to reach deep within and excel, and I feel as though I have done exactly that.  It has been a great ride with a top-notch company doing a job I fell in love with on the very first day and that feeling has not diminished one iota since that day I began this journey, January 17, 1983. 

So, I guess all of the above is a mea culpa of sorts; an apology for being successful in spite of all of my early efforts to be mediocre.  I am a very lucky guy, indeed!

There is a feeling deep within me that occasionally floats to the surface; one that begs to scream to at the top of my vocal register, “It so sucks not to be me.”

And that is all I have to say about that…

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Just a Little Trash…


Yesterday I posted a piece about our Labor Day Picnic.  As you might guess, 45-50 people can generate a bunch of refuse.  Man, we got trash – beer bottles, plastic bottles, drink cans, used plates, leftover food and all kinds of odds and ends.  Fortunately, today is trash collection day at The Farm.

This morning I loaded three very large bags of trash in the car in the pouring down rain leftover from tropical storm Lee.  The garbage is picked up at the hard-surfaced road which is a half mile from the house, so the trash always gets a ride in the car.  Since I was on way out of town today I thought I would just drop off the trash at the pick up point and then head to the airport.

Baltimore Washington International is 115 miles from Beautiful Downtown Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, population 624 (2010 census).  Not a bad drive, but closer would be nice.  Traffic was not too bad for the trip over here; the rain was touch and go.  I suppose I must have a lot on my mind, I nearly missed two turns along the route, but made it to the airport with a whole lot of time to spare.  I pulled the car into the parking deck, drove up to my favorite spot on the seventh floor, gathered up my cell phone and computer bag, and opened the truck lid to get my bag.  Much to my surprise I also found three large bags of soon to be very ripe garbage.  It is at this point I realized I am fully capable of screwing up a one car funeral.

I had thought about just leaving all three bags by a trash can on the seventh floor of the airport’s parking deck, but, inasmuch as there are cameras there and in this day and age suspicious packages being left in airports and on street corners and the havoc and panic they create, I decided it was not worth the risk.  I just would not look good in prison garb, so the bags will remain in the car and I will just have to deal with the results of my faux pas – which I think literally means “dumb shit” - on Friday when I get back.  The ride back to The Farm will be interesting, for sure.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Labor Day…


Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer.  In vacation spots across the country it is the demarcation between high summer rates and “off-season rates.”  At The Farm Labor Day is a day to party down.

Yesterday The Nancy and I had our fourth annual Labor Day Picnic, and we had a blast.  We usually have as many as fifty or more guests visit with us.  We generally spread out all over the yard, on the front porch and all over the house.  People come and bring a favorite dish of their own (though they don’t have to) and some lawn chairs and more importantly themselves.  There is a big maple tree in the yard close to the house that provides lots of shade and it’s kind of neat to see folks sitting under it totally relaxed enjoying one another’s company.

The Nancy and I really don’t get to visit with our guests as we would like to, but we love having them here.  The Nancy spends most of the day making sure everyone is happy – though she really doesn’t have to do it – it’s just The Nancy’s way.  Me, I love the kids; I love to watch them being kids and having fun.  Most of all, I love to take them out for rides in the Jeep Wrangler we keep here on The Farm more or less for just for kicks.  With the top down and the doors off, I strap three kids in the seats and take off on a trail through the fields and the woods.  Hearing them squeal with delight as we bump up and down in the fields and as we meander slowly through the very narrow trails in the woods brushing up against the lower hanging limbs delights me.

This year we called it a “Jungle Ride.”  I mapped it out about a week ago, and even drove it with a bow saw and a pair of shears removing some of the really low hanging branches so the kids would not get smacked in their faces as we drove the route.  I had planned to act as a travel guide, the Great Buwana, telling the kids about the wildlife living in jungle.  Unfortunately, as the best laid plans sometimes go, this one was a dismal failure.

The weather did not play fair at all.  It was “iffy” from the get go, and though The Nancy and I did all in our power to create a day other than the one forecasted, it was for naught.  The weather gods were against us.  I suppose they figured since the three previous Labor Day events had perfect weather they would mix it up for this one, and they sure as hell did.  Just as the first of the guests arrived, it began to drizzle.  By the time I was to fire up the grill, it was pouring.  I made two runs with kids in the Wrangler along the Jungle Ride and had to put the Jeep in the garage – the rain was just coming down too hard to risk getting stuck somewhere along the route.  Other than the grilling, which was accomplished with the grilling dude under an umbrella, all the other activities were moved inside – thank goodness we have a house large enough for fifty or so bodies to be able to move around without bumping in to each other.

Long story endless, the picnic/party was a blast.  A good time was had by all.  These are people The Nancy and I love, we enjoy sharing time with them, and are truly happy they chose to share this last day of official summer with us.

Now we get to look forward to next year so we can do it all over again.

And that is all I have to say about that…     

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