OMG, it's official... I'm a Geezer. I went to Motown to apply for Social Security this week. It was yet another in what is becoming a mini-series of Govie Gone Wrong soap operas. I have a Summertime Rant on the tip of my tongue, but don't worry, I'm not going "there," especially since I just got back from "there" last week.
When young and wild I couldn't imagine living to see forty, let alone Social Security. It never really bothered me as long I had ten years in the tank. When you're young, ten years seems like a hundred... sort of a like a dollar made you "rich." I'd look at the parents of my buddies, sometimes even my own parents, and it appeared to me that their best years were behind them, that life was pretty much over. All they did was work, work, work... only to come home and work some more, and ride herd over their brood of wild kids... bred into a fast paced world in a synapse of young lust. Life at forty looked a lot like prison to me, but without the walls.
When forty finally snuck up on me, I had become my parents... working my ass off to stay ahead of "the game." Careers are a "game," you know, one where you work your ass off to get ahead enough to quit working your ass off. I worked a full time job that I loathed, built spec homes on the side (with the help of my Lovely and crew of misfits) just so I could eventually quit the job with bosses and time clocks. Life was all about "The Destination" in those days cause "The Journey" sucked. I put blinders on, kept my head down and pulled the "plow" like a good ass... through the rocks and briar patches of life. Oh I'm sure I had fun in there somewhere... like on weekends. I have the photos to prove it.
Some of my best friends are getting old too. Funny how that works. A few worry about what they will do with themselves in retirement and actually look for another job, even tho they don't need the money. I think some wives don't like the idea of husbands being around all the time. Cat's and dogs get more affection than some used, unemployed husbands.
I often suggest a full or part time RV lifestyle to those people. It seems like a good way to kill a few years and enjoy some of that hard earned, long-awaited freedom. "Go see some country," I say, "Do some hiking and biking. It beats Home Depot or Walmart." It beats being a Pool Boy, too. But if one must still work a little, well, let's just say being a Pool Boy in Lovely Ouray comes with nice "scenery" side-benefits.
Here's the rant, a somewhat diffused version. I'm not getting near as much Social Security as their little quarterly statement said I would be getting. Just 515 bucks a month. It's a long story. Suffice it to say I got shafted because my employer opted out of S. S. into an SEP for 18 of my prime working years. Before agreeing, I made sure I had enough quarters earned to still get a decent S. S. check at age 62. But a few years ago some legislators became worried that the S. S. pot they like to borrow from was about to run dry, and passed a retroactive law that penalizes those people who bailed from S. S. for a while in favor of something else. In other words, they changed the rules after I/we made decisions based on the rules in play at the time.
I told the Social Security "messenger" that I thought Govie was not playing fair, that I should be "Grandfathered," that the new law should not affect those who played by rules in effect at the time, and lay waste to what honest people have been making their retirement plans around. We should at least have been notified that the sum of money plainly stated on our quarterly Social Security Statement, year in, year out, was not what we were going to get! She agreed, so I couldn't go postal.
I came home with a little cloud over my head and climbed on my 29'er for a bike ride... to vent some "pressure." Rode to Ridgway with Bobbie, but she had to head home to make a house cleaning appointment for absentee hobby ranchers. I had more steam to vent so I headed down the bike path thinking I'd ride to Ridgway Reservoir State Park. I like cruising campgrounds... looking at all the pretty Fivers and Motorhomes. But when I reached the Owl Creek Pass turn-off I found myself peddling up its lonely gravel road instead. I believe it's thirteen miles to the pass. I had already come fifteen miles from Ouray and was low on water. Oh well, the trip back would be all down hill.
I met my old friends, Rain and Lightning up on the mountain. So I hunkered down under a pine tree... about three miles short of the Pass and soaked to the bone. I put on a dry shirt and rain jacket... ate a couple of MoJo bars to get the furnace going. It turned cold, spit hail and blew. I tried to wait it out. When teeth began to chatter I thought it best to let'er rip back down the mountain.
That put a smile on my face... flying down a wet mud/gravel road, dodging dumb deer and curious cows, slinging water and grit up my front and backside, breaking hard through switchback turns and tucking on the straights. I found a little gratitude on the mountain, that at damn near 62, I'm still a participant... doing what I did when I was ten, fifteen, twenty five... flying downhill on a bike, getting muddy, playing in the rain and wearing myself to a frazzle.
I don't know how much the Social Security fraud will affect my "retirement." Maybe I'll be a Pool Boy again next summer if a house doesn't sell. In the meantime I'll try to enjoy The Journey more... the lonely summits, the bike rides in rain, and a fall-winter-spring spent in Utah's canyon country and Arizona's Sonoran Desert... doing there what I can't do here, in clothes that better suit warmer weather.
Today I begin my last shift at the pool; Sunday I'm done. I'm lucky to be alive and healthy enough to still participate. Me and my Lovely will wander western landscapes on foot and wheel. Places that inspire our souls and make life after forty... after sixty two... after 70... worth hanging around for.
I'm staring down the day that would have me a spectator. I mustn't blink.
Now go out and play like a kid... if for no other reason than, you still can.
|Chimney Rock pokes it's head above the aspen... I almost made it. Maybe next time.|
|And the rain came. It muddied the road and chilled my bones.|