Thursday, October 19, 2006


Retirement is a state of mind. I’ve seen many who seemed as if they were in that state while still on the job. This is a state of mind I have never been able to sustain for very long. Something inside tells me I should be doing stuff. Of course I’m nuts. That’s beside the point. The pressure is still there.

I remind myself that I’m retired and the pressure eases for a moment. It eases for as long as the thought lasts. Then the pressure to do something returns. Do what? I’m totally inept working with my hands. It would be silly to think about a job here in Bangkok, even if I could get a work permit.

What’s left? Writing and, recently, cooking. I’m not going to make a mini-career out of cooking. But writing? Why should I feel pressure to get a post every day? But that’s the way I am. Of course I’m nuts.

I first retired at the age of 62. A long time ago, needless to say. Like a dummy, I kept on working. I worked so much that Social Security took back a lot of my money. In those days they limited earnings.

One of my reasons for continuing to work was to connect with the mainstream of American life. After all the years overseas, I came home and worked as a surveyor. My kind of surveying was usually out in the wilderness. Or it could be along the centerline of a heavily trafficked street. Either way there is little connection with the mainstream of American life.

My first job in the mainstream was a security guard. I was in Las Vegas when a large technological convention came to town complete with expensive equipment. I found it to be the perfect job for me because they put me on the night shift.

Over the years, for one reason or another, I had become a very light sleeper. On this night shift, I put an open book on the table in front of me, propped my head in my hands over it as if I were reading, and slept the shift away. The slightest sound awakened me. The boss man came around several times. I was always staring at him as he came into sight. In the morning he told me I was the only guard who had stayed awake all night.

What a perfect job for a light sleeper. Was I cheating my employer? Hell no. I was as alert as a guard should be on a night shift. Of course it didn’t pay much but I was giving away that money anyway.

I did that for a couple of years. Why not? Getting paid to sleep. Only one boss man guessed what I was doing and it infuriated him. I was beating the system! That company had a definition of “sleeping” in its manual. The definition of sleeping was when the guard was approached, spoken to, and didn’t respond, he was then determined to have been sleeping. At the time I was ‘guarding’ a lobby behind large glass doors. This guy only had to approach the doors from outside and I would wake up. There was nothing he could do and it infuriated him.

It didn’t help, I suppose, that I taunted the weasel.

I loved to piss him off.


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