(Note: I am newly retired. The 2015-16 school year, which where I live began the day AFTER Labor Day, marked the first time in nearly 20 years that I was not in the classroom at the beginning of the new school year. Here is Part 1 of what I hope to be a continuing series of “Life After Work(ing).”)
Don’t get me wrong, I AM still working — just not full-time anymore. In fact, I worked at two different jobs today.
The first, which runs Monday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., involves a young man in a wheelchair who has Cerebral Palsy. He’s taking a three-hour long computer class each of those two days and, because he’s in a motorized wheelchair, he needs assistance going to the bathroom. Check that: he doesn’t need HELP taking a leak or anything like that, but he does use a hand-held urinal, except that in his condition, he can’t hold it. I have to.
When I first met him and preceded him into the handicapped stall of the bathroom where his class meets, I asked: “How does this work?” He said, “Simple. I take out my junk, you hold the bottle and I go.” For that I’m getting $20 an hour, three hours a day, two days a week. Most of the time he only pees once; a couple of times he has gone twice. And once he did, in his words, “No. 2.” I prefer things like “taking a poop,” “dropping a deuce,” or, “taking a dump.” I asked the guy who runs this program if lifting and wiping was worth a little more. He said yes, but I haven’t learned yet whether or not it is. The guy was supposed to have mailed the check last week (today is Wednesday, by the way), but I found out he forgot my ZIP code, so he’s going to give my wife the check tomorrow when they get together for a regional meeting for their consumers.
So I worked my three hours today. “Sam,” as I’ll call him, only peed once. The rest of the time I was busy on my laptop, being occupied with my two newest hobbies. The first is collecting autographs, but it’s different from when I used to send out Sports Illustrated covers seeking signatures. That got kind of costly because, to keep them in nice condition, I would fold them just once and mail them out in oversized envelopes. I sold most of them — I had over 360 of them last time I counted — and bought a new big-screen, high-def, 39-inch TV for us a couple of years ago on New Year’s Day.
Since I love baseball so much, I decided I would send out baseball cards instead. There’s a dollar store not far from us that sells cards in packs of 20. Yes, the cards have been repacked and there are no Mickey Mantles or Stan Musials. The cards are mostly from the 80s and 90s, many of whom I am familiar with or have seen play. I prefer, however, to send out older cards to older players. For example, on three different occasions, I purchased 10 cards from 1960 at a hobby shop I frequent. In one batch of 10, I discovered that three of the players featured had died, but I still sent out the other seven and got six of them back. A couple of them even had notes responding to questions I asked; and one guy, who played in the first game I ever attended as a child, gave me his phone number and invited me to call sometime if I ever wanted to talk baseball. Cool.
Today I addressed 10 envelopes and wrote 10 notes. Now I have to wait for my “Sam” check to arrive so I can buy stamps. I was going gung-ho for a while, but now I’m trying to limit myself to 10 a week as stamps come in “books” of 20.
My other “new” hobby is playing “Words With Friends” on facebook. The internet connection is the building isn’t the best, so it moves kind of slow. I’m having good games with friends Chris and Mary and also with my middle son, Ryan. I usually win.
Today’s mail was late, but three of the envelopes contained signed cards. The other contained two cards I sent out to an older player along with a note from his son telling me his dad passed away in August, 2014. The web site where I get my addresses has not been updated. I feel bad.
I worked my other job tonight — sportswriter for The Holland Sentinel. The local Class A baseball team, the West Michigan Whitecaps, qualified for the playoffs and they hosted the first, first-round game tonight. They won, 5-2, over the Fort Wayne TinCaps and play again Thursday. If they win the series, the second round begins Saturday. At home. I hope they win.