I’ll be 55 years old. I’ll turn 56 40 days later. I will have been working for nearly 43 years at that point.
That’s my planned “retirement” date. I’ve got two years from today to figure all of this stuff out.
On one hand, that seems like more than enough time. Two years to figure out everything. Two years to start putting things away, selling things, starting the long transition from one long era of my life to a new one.
On the other hand, it’s less than 750 days. That’s not a lot of time to accomplish many of the things I have to figure out. Things like: paying for a long bicycle trip. How long do I plan on being on the road? What happens after I’m done being on the road? Where do I stay? How do I eat? How do I acquire the necessary skills to survive on the road / being technically and literally homeless?
What about “Plan B”? What if something happens to my health between now and then? My brother and one of my sisters have both had their knees replaced. Does that mean whatever condition they had which led to those operations will affect me, too? Can I ride a bicycle thousands of miles with replaced knees?
Hell, can I ride a bicycle thousands of miles with my original factory installed knees?
When I got done with my 60 mile ride today, I took a nice, long (two hour!), hot bath. That helps with the aching muscles. Where am I going to find a bathtub on the road?
How can I possibly leave Dexter?
Two years. Not a lot of time to figure out the answers.
Completely unrelated, except that it was another major milestone in my life that occurred on June 1.
The year was 1977. I was sworn into the US Navy and was off to boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. I was 18 years old.
I’d graduated from high school in 1976. I worked for Shoney’s in Millington, TN. One night in mid-May, 1977, I told the assistant manager that she basically had her head up her ass . . . which was, in a way, a good thing for her since she could then tell the difference between her ass and a hole in the ground.
This was on a Friday night. I was working the “wheel.” Assembling the cooked items onto the plates to put in the window for the waitresses to retrieve and take out to the tables. The assistant manager took my observation to heart, but, upon a tenth of a second’s reflection, decided that Shoney’s would somehow have to muddle on without my tremendous talents. (Obviously, since that Shoney’s is no longer in business in Millington, we can assume that she bet wrong. Que sera sera.)
She could probably bring some sort of trademark infringement against Donald Trump. As she said the words, “You’re fired!” long before he gathered up a bunch of apprentices and made them do stupid things.
I took my apron off and proceeded to change my status from “Shoney’s Employee” to “Shoney’s Customer.” I sat down at the horseshoe shaped counter and demanded to see a menu. Oddly enough, the woman who just fired me had also assigned herself a “wait station,” which just happened to include the counter where her former employee was now demanding a menu.
Seated next to me, appreciating the irony of the situation, was a US Navy Recruiter. After I placed my order, the recruiter, having watched every detail of my firing, turned to me and said, “So, when are you coming down to the office to take your entrance exam?”
Told him I’d be there on Monday.
I didn’t have to take a test. I’d had my ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) results from school. My scores were so high, that I qualified to do anything I wanted in the Navy. I qualified for every single rating (job) the Navy had.
The recruiter tried to get me to go into “nukes.” He wanted me to become a nuclear engineer so I could ride submarines.
I was 18. I wasn’t interested in being on submarines. I was only interested in one thing:
I told the recruiter I wanted to be a cook.
“Umm, you can do anything you want. And you want to be a cook?” the flabbergasted recruiter asked.
“Yes. I want to be a cook.”
You see, I had this idea that the Navy would teach me how to be a gourmet chef. Then, once I’d mastered all of the possible culinary arts, I’d waltz back into Shoney’s, be-medaled, be-decorated, be-high-ranked, and say, “Sorry guys, y’all’s loss.”
The recruiter shook his head, got my guaranteed “A” school for the MS (Mess Management Specialist) rating, and on June 1, 1977, I was put on a plane and shipped off to Great Lakes, Illinois.
(No, I never became a cook. First trip through a Navy chow line convinced me to do something else than peel spuds at 4AM. Another tale for another day.)
Every single thing that has transpired in my life stemmed from that one point in time. I’m sure everyone can look back in the life and say, “Yep, that was the day. If things had gone slightly differently, my entire life would have changed.”
The symmetry appeals to me to be ending my “adult working life” on the same day it began.