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How the Interwebs ‘Mowed Down’ the Postal Service

10 May

by Roger White

 

My old friend Gary, whom I’ve been best buds with since the early days of the LBJ Administration, recently retired after almost 40 years with the US Postal Service. Forty years of doing just about anything is admirable in my book, but working 40 years for the post office—and staying as sane, calm, and level-headed as Gary’s always been—is cause for a bit of hoopla and commemoration. So I sent my pal a celebratory retirement package: a 1/24 scale Three Stooges work truck model ready for assembly. Gary always did like working on car models.

 

postman dudeThrough the years, Gary has been the consistent yin to my yang. I’m a bit of a prone-to-histrionics type. When I’d be crying my 12-year-old eyes out because the Cowboys lost in the playoffs, Gary would be the one to remind me that it was just a game, that we’d get ’em next year, and, hey, isn’t a good time to get on our bikes and ride to the DQ for a couple of ice cream cones. That’s surely one of the reasons we remained such good friends over the years. I was the wild-eyed schemer; Gary was the voice of reason. Gary’s even-handed demeanor, I would bet, is also one of the reasons he never “went postal” working 40 years for the postal people.

 

I bring up my friend because I was thinking the other day how Gary timed his retirement just about perfectly. The USPS, like so many other entities, has been dealt a real body blow by the internet. The number of people conducting their business by hand-delivered mail has declined precipitously in the era of e-mails, texts, and Facebook. Then again, the list of industries and career paths adversely affected by the rise of the interwebs is a long one. Think about it: jounaughty magrnalists, photographers, newspaper and magazine owners, authors, publishers, literary agents, press workers, encyclopedia salespeople, recording artists, record album designers, music store owners, phone book companies, map makers, taxi drivers, camera makers, processed film manufacturers, travel agents—and let’s not forget the print porn industry. OK, never mind about the print porn. Young men now have more closet and bottom drawer space. But anyway, the list goes on. We’re in the midst of an economic revolution of sorts. And we all can’t work as Walmart greeters.

 

So back to Gary. The notion that my friend retired at just the right moment came to me when I read an article the other day that the postal service of Finland—financially in dire straits as are postal services of just about every country around—has gone to drastic measures to try to stay afloat. Posti Group, which is what the state-owned Finnish mail service is called, has decided that to help make ends meet, they will, in addition to delivering the Finnish mail, offer to mow people’s lawns once a week for a tax-deductible fee of about $148.

 

“The idea for the lawn-mowing service came from mail delivery employees themselves,” said Anu Punola, the service’s director. “We believe many customers will be happy to outsource lawn mowing when we make it convenient for them to do so.”

 

Mmmyeah. That’s thinking way, way outside the post office box. Somehow, I just don’t see it flying here in the good ol’ US of A. My postal delivery guy is friendly enough, but I can’t picture him at my door like so:

 

“Hello, Mr. White, you need to sign for this package.”

 

“Oh, thankspostal mow.”

 

“And by the way, your driveway shrubs are looking really shabby. You want a trim and an edge for an extra fifty bucks?”

 

I could see them delivering pizza, though. That just might work. “Here you are, Mr. White, jury summons, five credit card offers, Victoria’s Secret catalog, utility bill, Pottery Barn flier, and double pepperoni with mushroom, hold the anchovy.”

 

In order to survive, I envision other such services embracing the concept of double duty. For example, I edit a magazine (yes, the print kind), and I write for a newspaper (yes, the print kind). How much longer these publications will remain the print kind is anyone’s guess, but I figure it might help keep subscriptions coming in if we could figure out a way for these periodicals to be made from material with the consistency of toilet paper. Talk about double dooty. That’s something that e-magazines and e-newspapers just couldn’t match, I do believe.

 

Yep, Gar, you retired at just the right time, old friend.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely spouse, two precocious offspring units, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

 

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Time for Old Rockers to Tinker with their Tunes

24 Aug

by Roger White

A friend recently posted on Facebook a snippet of herself at a Kansas concert, and it really got me thinking. No, it wasn’t a concert in Topeka—it was a show featuring that well-seasoned rock band Kansas. Yes, they’re actually still around, and yes, they’re actually still touring. My first thought upon viewing this short clip was to make a mental sticky-note to myself, which will read: “Note to self: Never post a clip on Facebook of you singing along with any band anywhere.” All you can hear in this video clip is our friend wailing out “Carry On My Wayward Son” at the top of her lungs, presumably as the guys on stage paid to sing the song are doing likewise. It weren’t pretty.

The second thought that swam across the shallow stream of consciousness that is my brain was “Aren’t the members of Kansas like, 87 years old now? Shouldn’t they be singing something like ‘Carry On My Wayward Grandson’?”

gads

Apparently, as Bob Seger opined long ago, rock and roll never forgets—as will attest many an aging rock outfit (they call them “legacy bands” now, which is code for “old fart rockers”). And these antique acts haven’t forgotten that we old fart fans will still pay good cash money to hear “Satisfaction” or “Born to Run” live just one more time before we all keel over. It’s amazing how many wrinkled ol—er, I mean, legacy bands are still at it. Just look at the lineup for Austin’s One World Theatre for any given month; nine out of ten acts playing there are card-carrying AARP members.

And this got me thinking further. I do believe it’s time for some of these long-in-the-tooth bands to tinker with their repertoire a bit to more properly reflect where they are in life. I mean, come on, Donny Osmond’s pushing 60. Can he still authentically pine about his “Puppy Love”? Instead of “Dust in the Wind,” Kansas should be singing something more along the lines of “Dust in Your Depends.”

double gads

So, herewith are some gentle oldspouse suggestions for revisions to many of our generation’s classic, albeit geriatric, gems, in no particular order:

  • The Rolling Stones: “I Can’t Hear You Knocking”; “Ruby Snoozeday”; “When the Hip Goes Out”; “You Always Forget What You Want”
  • Chicago: “Does Anybody Really Know What Day This Is?”; “If You Bathe Me Now”; “Questions 67 and, Uh”
  • The Eagles: “Hotel Neuralgia”; “Life with the Gas Pain”; “Glaucoma Sunrise”; “After the Pills Are Gone”
  • The Who: “Talkin’ ’Bout my Medication”; “Behind Bad Eyes”
  • Bad Company: “Feel Like Makin’ Fudge”; “Rockin’ Chair Fantasy”; “Can’t Get Enough of Your Prunes”
  • Black Sabbath: “Iron (Deficiency) Man”; “Hemorrhoid”; “Bark at the Nurse”
  • Beach Boys: “Be True to Your Stool”; “Catatonia Girls”; “Good Fibrillations”
  • Bruce Springsteen: “Vitamin E Street Shuffle”; “I’m Goin’ Down (And I Can’t Get Up)”; “Tenth Avenue Wheeze Out”
  • Crosby, Stills, & Nash: “Almost Grew Some Hair”; “Find the Cost of Lasik”; “Helplessly Scoping”fourple gads
  • Deep Purple: “Stroke on the Water”; “Face Tuckin’”
  • Doobie Brothers: “Long Vein Runnin’”; “Angina Grove”; “Takin’ It to the Sheets”
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd: “Rest Home Alabama”
  • Foreigner: “Feels Like the Last Time”; “I Wanna Know What Today Is”
  • Steely Dan: “Rikki Don’t Lose Your Walker”; “My Old Stool”
  • Neil Young: “Down by My Liver”; “A Man Needs a Nurse”; “Enema Girl”
  • The Monkees: “Last Train to Restville”; “(I’ve Got Your) Kidney Stone”
  • Billy Joel: “Just the Way You Snore”; “Scenes From an Italian Rest Home”
  • Todd Rundgren: “I Saw the Nightlight”; “We Gotta Get You a Bypass”
  • Sly and the Family Stone: “You Can Wake Up If You Try”; “Thank You (Falletinme Feed Mice Elf Agin)”
  • KC & The Sunshine Band: “Get Sleep Tonight”; “Shake Your Footies”
  • The Kinks: “Dedicated Follower of Napping”; “You Really Got Gout”
  • Three Dog Night: “Try a Little Dulcolax”; “Just an Old-Fashioned Gallstone”
  • Jefferson Airplane: “Go Ask Cialis”

These are just suggestions, mind you. I had a few more in mind, but you get the picture. Besides, this compilation began to seriously eat into my nap time.

 

Roger White is a freelance old person living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious offspring, a very obese but mannerful dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

Faith and Begorrah, They Have Old Dog Homes!

5 Jun

 

by Roger White

 

Well, Faith and Begorrah, you can learn something new every day. Sometimes that—and little chocolate donuts—is the only thing that spurs me to drag my sagging carcass out of the sack most mornings.

LCDAnd speaking of learning something new (and in the true spirit of the stream-of-consciousness rambling rhetoric this forum prides itself on), do you know where the term “Faith and Begorrah” comes from? Or from which it comes, to avoid a prepositionally ended sentence?

From what I’ve been able to gather, “F&B” is a traditional Irish epithet that roughly translates into “By Gosh!” The Irish, of course, being a true Almighty-fearing people, didn’t want to come right out and say “By God!” when exclaiming some revelation or sense of amazement, so “F&B” was used to avoid taking the Supreme Dude’s name in vain and thereby summoning the furious wrath of the All-Knowing One. Kind of like how we say “Jeez!” to show astonishment (or when we smack our thumb with the hammer) to be able to quasi-curse without perturbing the Head Cheese. I believe it was W.C. Fields who used to exclaim, “Well, Godfrey wcfDaniels!” to approximate the G-D swear words. It’s all a bit silly, if you ask me. I mean, do we really think that (a) we’re putting one over on the Omniscient One; and (b) they’re actually keeping a Heavenly Tally?

Me at Pearly Gates: “So, St. P, do I get in the club?”

St. Peter: “Well. You did say ‘Jeez and Crackers’ six-hundred-seventy-two-thousand times. And don’t think we don’t know what that’s about.”

Me: “Aw, Jeez.”

St. Peter: “Ya see? That’s what I’m talking about.”

Me: “Sorry.”

St. Peter: “Oh, go on in. But we’re watching you.”

Aaaaanyway. Original point coming. I opined “F&B” earlier because I received a very kindly response to my recent column about aging pets and comedian Louis C.K.’s “countdown to sorrow” routine about pet ownership. I pondered why we don’t have any old pooch’s homes. And by golly (oop), we do have them!

Reader Elaine Courtney sent me this:

“Hi, I read your column today, and as I do most weeks, enjoyed it. (Most weeks? Hey.) Dogs are my favorite subject, and I mostly rescue seniors. The reason for that is I don’t want a dog to outlive me. My oldest is Baby, a 14-year-old Shih Tzu. He is now snoring away beside me. I have three other ShihTzus, two Corgis, and one recent find, a 14-year-old Basset-Corgi, whose momma went to assisted living in March. I’ve had to say goodbye to two seniors in the past three years …. It is very difficult to let them go, but they all had several years of a great spoiled life that they might never have had.  It’s usually a circus around here, but I love my dogs, and I am lucky that I work from home.

dog-retirement“Two things: One, there are several senior doggie retirement centers around the country, and it is such a great service. I would love to do that myself. I once thought of opening a pet cemetery, but that ran out of steam.

“The other thing I wanted to mention is your Bubbie, I hope you find a good residence for her. Hopefully, that decision is much further down the road. I do older adult services, helping people with errands and chores so that they can remain in their homes or even just have company, someone to play Scrabble with.

“If you need that kind of assistance for her, if it would make her or your life easier, let me know…. Oh, and cute picture of the labradoodle puppy in your article!!”

Well, that photo was provided by Editor Will. Kudos, Will-man. And thank you, Elaine. You’re a sweetie. Payola’s in the mail.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visitoldspouse.wordpress.com.