Retirement Type Situation in Argyle Heights

On Retirement

When you're on the far side of 66, and the latest in a seemingly endless series of reorganizations and work flow “enhancements” is announced by your boss, the mind obviously wanders toward the idea of retirement. 

So the first thing you do is the math. The pension, the 401k, the savings, the social security: will it all add up to a sustainable income? And do I have a fall-back if an emergency strikes? But inertia is a strong force, so you press on until one day you're stuck on a B train delayed again by switch problems at Prospect Park. How could these switches, replaced so many times, continue to break down so often? Could it be the ghosts of the Malbone Street Wreck of 1918 when 93 souls perished only yards from the switch? 

Maybe the MTA should call in the Ghost Hunting Adventurers from cable TV and they could yell at the switch and get the ghosts to leave or something. 

My fantasizing was interrupted, however, by a Blackberry message from my superiors about a staff meeting “called in an abundance of caution” to discuss the reorganization of the work flow changes as they pertained to emergency mobilizations. And then it hit me: I could be freed from: 1) staring dumbfounded at such prose; and 2) stewing about MTA switch problems, all by simply retiring.

There were down sides to consider, of course: by not working, I would be freed up to do endless chores around the house and have no ready excuse for getting out of them. Moreover, my ability to spend many treasured happy hours with my mates at our favorite tavern complaining about work-flow reorganizations could no longer be explained away as “Had to stay late, honey, finishing up that re-org memo” or “Dear, I won't be able to watch that girlie movie with you tonight - there's a dire emergency threatening our space time continuum and I've been assigned to the night shift to combat it - can't talk, there's my airlift now, yes, that explains all the noise, don't wait up!”

On the other hand, although I didn't look a day over 65, let's face it, there comes a time when you realize you're no longer being asked to join the office softball team and when you complain, your best pal says: “Joe, the last time you dove for a ball they had to call an ambulance”. 

So why not use the “golden years” David Bowie sang about to do some things you always wanted to do but never had time for? Like re-alphabetizing your spice rack and transferring all those camcorder tapes to DVD. Or transferring 3,000 vinyl albums you haven't listened to in 40 years to MP3 files? Hmmm. Not very exciting compared to saving the world and stuff...Or maybe I could blog or Tweet every day and chronicle my wanderings from room to room on FaceBook? That's it!

Certain the world was dying to hear about my household chores, I was about to step off the B train with a renewed sense of purpose when a 30-something peddler started shouting he was a veteran whose mind got fried in “The Nams” where some guy got killed in "Kay Sons" after spending too much time “in the country.” 

As fate would have it, the train stopped for a while because “we have red signals against us.” Frustrated, I was about to take it out on this fake vet and tell him he needed a few more screenings of “Platoon” and “Full Metal Jacket” to nail down the lingo, plus a lot more gray in his hair. 

But before I could vent, he started wailing: “What a bunch of crap! Red signals AGAINST us? How come there are never any red signals FOR us? And why are the signals RED? Can't they be red, white and blue?” The train suddenly lurched forward into the station and I dropped 50 cents into his plastic bag as I departed, explaining it was for the MTA rant, not for the Vietnam crap. Then I marched into work and told THE MAN that I was through with all the work-flow reorganizations, that it was now MY TIME to reorganize my own spice rack!

“OK” was the response.

“And don't try and talk me out of it, either,” I cautioned.

“Fine – so I can throw out your baseball discrimination complaint then?”

“No,” I said, “it may be pointless now but it's the statement that counts.” I smiled as I left his office, confident I had finally stuck it to THE MAN. Until I heard behind me the unmistakeable sound of paper being crumpled.

So it's been a couple of months and I'm just now drying out from the good-bye celebrations. All the job mementos and such were set up on the piano as a more or less permanent shrine but the piano was really way off to the side of the living room and not readily visible. So when we had company I would inevitably change the conversation to music and wander over to play chopsticks. 

“Oh, by the way,” I would suavely interject while threatening to play something, “that trophy there was for something I worked on that I can't really talk about it because of my non-disclosure agreement.” 

I figure that act will get pretty stale as Summer rolls around. Maybe I'll start doing something with those albums and jumbled-up spices, but as for now, I still get summoned frequently to consult on old cases. I just have to remember when the cell phone rings during these sessions to step outside so the sound of happy hour doesn't intrude. 

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