By Bob O’Connor
My wife and I became LOAFIs a few years ago: living on a fixed income. As a retiree, I must admit the complete lack of responsibility is enjoyable, and I want to thank all those who continue to work and support me.
However, I am getting a little tired of the question, “Do you miss the job?”
Really? To me it is like asking a mother if she misses childbirth. Labor, of any kind, is no fun. Not that I would equate my 30 years sitting at a desk to my wife’s birthing experiences – although I did sustain a few nasty paper cuts over the years.
The pat answer is, “I don’t miss the work, but I miss the people.” Honestly, the only thing I miss about the workaday world is the commute. For about a third of my career, I had one or more of my kids in the car; they all went to high school in the city. Their morning personalities ranged from bright and talkative to sullen and malevolent. My youngest suffered from car sickness and spent most of her time hanging out the window like a Great Dane.
Then there were my fellow commuters. Since people leave for the job about the same time, you tend to see the same drivers every day. We form our platoon of unhappy travelers. There were a few guys who ate breakfast in the auto; one hand with a hot cup of coffee and the other cradling an Egg McMuffin. I assumed they steered with their knees, but who knew?
I would also see several women applying their makeup as they zoomed down the road. They would lean up to the rearview mirror and devote their full concentration to getting that fuller eyelash look.
Another woman always intrigued me. She drove a sporty little car with a bumper sticker that said “ASK ME, I MIGHT.” Reading bumper stickers was great fun. My two favorites were: “MY KID BEAT UP YOUR HONOR STUDENT” and “JESUS LOVES YOU, THE REST OF US THINK YOU ARE A JERK.”
A lot of drivers smoked on the ride in; some sucked on very small cigarettes. I always wondered how they could work while stoned. I hope they weren’t surgeons, airline pilots or window washers.
Late in my career I got to deal with the texters. They would drive with their heads down punching letters into their phones. Every three or four seconds they would glance up at the highway. At 60 miles per hour a car travels about the length of a football field in those few seconds. What fun for the rest of us.
Here is an interesting fact. If you begin driving at 16 and continue until you are 70, assuming the kids haven’t taken the keys away, you will likely have three reportable accidents over those 54 years.
I had my big one while commuting. I was stopped at a traffic signal when I was rear-ended by a dump truck that lost its brakes.
Contrary to what most people think, when you are hit from behind, your car shoots forward, but you go backwards. I was hit with such force that my front seat broke and I found myself staring up at the roof wondering what the hell happened. For months after that little crash I drove like a skittish rabbit, assuming every driver was out to finish me off.
Why does the bozo ahead of me always drive too slow and the jerk behind me always drive too fast?
I often wished for a photon torpedo strapped to my car’s hood. Anytime somebody cut me off or moved into my lane, I would vaporize them. Unfortunately, I would soon have been the only driver on the road, and where’s the fun in that?