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The Day Job

Well, I’ve done it! I’ve quit my day job. As of August 31, 2002, I will end a 40-year career as a schoolteacher. I taught my first university class fall semester 1961 and have been at it every since. It used to be a lot of fun, but lately it’s not. The students are great and I’ll miss my interaction with them, but some of the other folks at the institution of my employment would make the honchos at Enron, ImClone, WorldCom, and Arthur Andersen look like paragons of virtue. So, it’s a good time for me to get out and turn my attention to something else. What will you do, you may ask. I’ve actually asked the same question. Here are some of the answers up with which I have come. (Did you notice how adroitly I avoided using a preposition to end a sentence with?)

1. Fishing. Given the proportion of land and water on the earth’s surface, it is obvious to me that our creator expected humankind to spend more time fishing than engaging in land- based activities. I will do my best to fulfill that expectation. I’m planning a fly fishing trip to Alaska as a retirement present to myself, followed by as much fishing in as many different places as time and financial resources permit. If all else fails I have 2 ponds on my property, one stocked with bass that are quite large and another stocked with catfish that are even larger. I can catch those at a moment’s notice.
2. Dancing. Lynn and I love ballroom dancing. We go dancing every chance we get. We go dancing in Houston, in Huntsville. We have even been known to hop in our former airplane and fly to San Antonio to go dancing at the Roaring 20’s Ballroom out on Old Blanco Road. I know of no other activity that allows one to legally hold so many different good-looking women in your arms and sway to the sound of those great tunes of the big band era. It has been said that life is too short to dance with ugly women. Fortunately almost all women look good to me. Lynn and I probably will be teaching a ballroom dancing class in the fall. You might not recognize us because we will be teaching under assumed names.
3. Writing. I have several things I want to write, but haven’t had time. I’ve got a stem-winding mystery novel in mind but not on paper. It is set in a university in Alabama and involves the brutal murder of a college dean who is suffocated by having a duck stuffed down his throat. The opening line is, “ The scream reverberated through all 10 floors of Haley Center.” I haven’t gotten much further, but the premise is satisfying to contemplate. Another project is writing a science fiction story that involves deep space travel and cool techno stuff. Since I am neither cool nor techno, I’ll be coauthoring that one with my son, the techno dude.
4. Travel. Wife Lynn will not let me not travel. We will probably spend some days each year in our time-share in southern Spain. The list of places she wants to go is long and varied. I get tired just thinking about it. Lynn wants to go to China for her 50th birthday, which was several years ago. Ha! Not really. She is not as much older than me as she looks.
5. Flying. I had a little heart surgery a while back, which has kept me out of the pilot’s seat for a bit. Last Monday I had my 2nd stress test after the surgery. If it is all clear, I hope to get my medical certificate back. For some reason the FAA is very picky about having pilots fly about with an active heart condition. I have a lovely, kind, and generous heart. I hope that counts for something. There are 2 airplanes that might be for sale at our local airport. I lust after both of them. So, if I get my medical back, watch for me to be flying over your house 2 or 3 times a week. I fly low, so be careful how you sunbathe.
6. Reading. I am very reluctant to start reading a new book while I am working my current day job because if it is any good I won’t put it down until I finish it. That often means I will read all night when people my age should be sleeping. It’s a curse. I simply can’t leave a good book unfinished. In retirement, I may reread some of the great old literary classics like Lady Chatterley’s Lover or The Story of O. I’ll also read almost anything written by W.E.B. Griffin or John Grisham or Tom Clancy. Spy stories are another favorite of mine. I really enjoy reading a good book.

By now I’m sure you are figuring out that I will not have time to do all the stuff I have on my schedule. You are right if you think I will do all these things in some kind of sequence. However, with careful planning many of these things can be combined. I can read and write while I’m traveling. That’s three things at a time. I can fly my airplane to Florida to fish in the daytime and dance at night. That’s three more things. If I were out on a pier I could perhaps fish and dance at the same time, but that’s pretty tricky. Often dance partners find this as objectionable as trying to combine romance and a televised tennis game.

All in all I am very much looking forward to getting out of my current day job and getting on with living a life I can enjoy again. It really sounds like fun doesn’t it?