August 16, 2011

Dry Run

If you've read any of my posts before, you're probably aware that Jan and I are no spring chickens any more.  In fact, after a successful 37 year run, Jan is now in her last year of teaching school.  A lot of people, including my mother, will insist that I have been retired for the last 37 years, but that is just spite on their part.

Contrary to popular belief, I've had a pretty normal career, complete with its ups and downs.  Nearing geezerhood, I've occupied myself for the last five years or so as an "outside contractor".  This means that I patiently wait for large companies to lay off too many people, and when they realize their mistake, they call me to come in and fill gaps until they can lay off some more people.  In the 1930's this type of employment may have been characterized as being a "scab", but I prefer to think that I fill a need in today's marketplace.

This sort of occupation means that I have periods of employment, followed by periods of un employment.  And, it just so happens that I've been in the latter category for about a month now.  And rather than lolly-gag around, I decided to treat this down time as a sort of dry run for my looming retirement.

All of the experts say that retirement is a time fraught with pitfalls, mainly because an individual has not made plans as to how to fill his or hers newly found independence. They (experts) advise all soon-to-be retirees to know what they want to do so they don't succumb to boredom and depression.

Personally, I thought they (experts) were full of shit.  But, just in case they might be right, I decided to spend the last month or so following some of their tips on how to spend your golden years.

Travel - When Jan and I have taken trips, we've seen more than a few motor homes on the road.  Not the small ones, but the monsters meant to go coast to coast, often seen towing a small car so one can park the whale at some Jellystone Park atrocity and go putt-putting about to see the local scenery.  The whales that these people travel in are fully equipped with kitchens, bathrooms and sleeping quarters.

They also cost about a zillion dollars to own and operate.  We will be on a fairly modest budget, so we experimented with a more thrifty option.  We traveled in a smaller vehicle and camped out at our stops.

$29.99 Per Week (Minimal Breakdowns)

The Tent Was  Super Easy To Put Up And Take Down

However, the allure of the road is fleeting and you must return home sometime.  After decades toiling away in an office, it was time to find out if I had the mad skilz it took to be a handy man.  And what better way to find out than to try a little ...

Home Improvement - Our home has stood for almost a quarter century now with an unfinished basement.  And I've always wanted to have a "man cave" complete with a wet bar to entertain friends and family.  After only 3 days labor and a two thousand dollar budget (just like on HGTV!), I turned this:

How Sad!

Into this:

Welcome ... to "Rob's Grotto"!

Jan was so impressed by the results that she immediately suggested that I put my time and energy into other pursuits.  "And why not", I thought to myself.  What was the one thing that I had always wanted to try during my many years of toiling for "The Man"?  Well, of course ...

Start Your Own Business - Following several hours of studying the needs of the market, assessing my strengths and weaknesses, and writing a two and a half page (double spaced) business plan ...  I launched my very own:

"Traveler's ADE - Lemon That Is"
(trademark 2011 -  Rob, LLC)

Unfortunately ...  due to market forces; including logistics, site selection, failure to obtain a loan from the Small Business Administration, that tricky "license" thing with the village, labor issues and a broken mini-refrigerator; I was forced to shutter "Traveler's ADE" after only one day of operation and lay off all of my employees (sorry Jan).  Damn You President Obama for not supporting small businesses! (Vote Bachmann in '12!)

Secure in my knowledge that my business would have flourished if not for the worst recession this nation has experienced in 500 years, I let my thoughts wander and stumbled across that old adage "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy".

And what better way to play than to:  

Have A Hobby - This was a dicey one.  In my 5-plus decades on this earth, I have only had one leisurely pursuit (drinking doesn't count) that I can remember. Assembling model airplanes.  But, even this had lost it's appeal to me.  However, I must admit that I'm no stranger in the kitchen and I can whip up a pretty mean Lean Cuisine when I put my mind to it.  I decided that I would not only train myself to become a gourmet cook, but a chef.  And not any of that sous chef shit either, but a full blown chef.  And after all, it's a well know fact that men make the best chefs (sorry ladies).  All you have to do is turn on the television and watch Top Chef, Master Chef, Iron Chef, Le Chef, Chef-of -the-Week, Porno Chef, etc. to know that much.

And armed with my trusty whisk and braising pan, I began to conjure up dishes fit for a King ... or Queen as Jan was my dinner partner.  Coming from Rob's Kitchen were such culinary delights as:

Soup Le Boeuf

Prawn Chow Mein

Gastropod En Linguine

I must admit, that each one of my dishes were as edible as the others.  And even though Jan developed a particularly nasty stomach ailment that lasted two weeks and was, alas, unable to partake of these delightful meals with me, I'm sure she would have been impressed.

And so, that brings me to today.  It seems that I've been through a full retirement in only 6 short weeks.  And if I've learned anything from my experiences, it's that ...

I need to go back to work ... soon.

Next Post:  My full and confidential Resume for your perusal.

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