November 17, 2008

Prologue: A man of leisure? Riiiiight....

That's it, Gang. As of Nov. 1, I am officially retired; an ol' fart out to pasture; a used-up, burnt-out old fool with nothing significant to contribute to society.

Or at least that's what several of the young, ambitious, committed-to-no one-or-nothing-but-him/herself hot shots at the old job apparently think. Certainly, in their eyes, the company for which I toiled for 29-plus years is now shed of one more splinter of dead wood (a debate for another time).

I'm just another old geezer sitting in my recliner with nothing to do but watch Oprah and listen to my arteries clog.


Are you kidding?!

I cannot BEGIN to express how nice it is not to worry about deadlines. Reptilian and demonic, they've been lined up behind me to one degree or another for some 44 years as I've struggled with whatever current task I've had. They jostled and clamored over one another for the next opportunity to sink their teeth into my forehead. They never relaxed that bite, either, until I had offered up sufficient of my sweetmeats to sate their hunger.

Moreover, even before I could force one deadline from my back, another would pounce and start pulling at my gut. Then, I'd immediately have to begin gathering enough of my labors' fruits to satisfy this next one, too. Constantly, I felt their endless writhing queue behind me.

Early on, deadlines were infrequent visitors. One would just sort of saunter up and lull me into procrastination.

"Don't mind me," it would purr. "You have plenty of time."

Then, as days shrank to hours shrank to minutes, the deadline would whisper over my shoulder.

"Time's passing," it would hiss insistently. Then with an oily smile, "But you work best under pressure. Plenty of time."

Before long, the demon took to pounding the back of my eyes, clawing my stomach and screeching, "Move it, Jerk. Look at the clock. You better get your ass in gear!"

At the same time, coworkers, bosses, friends would drop by smiling and add their demands to the deadline's growing weight. That's when beads of blood would dot my forehead as I strained to come up with that perfect sentence, best approach or most appropriate action. And not a single deadline would care if those added distractions had joined them on my shoulders and clamored for attention. In fact, the devilish deadlines had seemed to invite them.

Moreover, the current deadline would remain, claws lodged between my shoulderblades, forcing, ordering, pushing me into panic. I did, too. Often.

Maybe I've exaggerated my relief a bit. Nevertheless, the deadline horde now finally has turned to someone else: my successor (lucky him). I don't have to feed it any more.

Now, I can rise whenever I want (I choose 5:30 or 6 a.m.), shave and shower whenever I want ( shower daily, shave most days), grow a ponytail if I choose (gawd, I DON'T!), and be as active as I please.

Oh. And I plan to get after all those little hunnydoos, many of which I've neglected for years, that insist on scurrying around our house. There goes one now! STOMP! Got 'im.


Maybe, instead, I'll learn to dance....

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