Monday, January 30, 2012

Are at Least Three Legs Still Attached?

Here and there about town are small pipes sticking up out of the sidewalk, usually right next to buildings, often fitted with toadstool-like caps. In fact, many have been painted with spots to enhance that effect, which is whimsically charming. On Saturday, as I walked over to see my hospice visitee, I saw a tiny girl who was walking with her parents spot one of these faux toadstools, back up to it, and sit down. It fit her perfectly, and it was about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

Today I took Hammett for his annual checkup. He sees one of two different vets, depending on my mood. One is earnest and sweet and thinks it’s important to give your pet the best quality food. The other has a rather dashing air and thinks there’s not one bit of difference between the fanciest organic chow and the cheapest crap they have at Safeway, which I find rather scandalous.

The first carefully follows up on every symptom: “Maybe we’d better do an ultrasound.”

The second is casual about pretty much everything: “He’s not vomiting? Then I wouldn’t worry about it.”

I don’t know if this is the foremost criterion in choosing a vet, but the casual one happens to be quite attractive, so while Hammett may or may not need to see him on a given day, sometimes I need to see him, so we saw him today. But, happily, because he doesn’t get exercised over every little thing, it also was a lot less expensive than I thought it would be, only $55. He said it’s been two and half years since Hammett was vaccinated, and that while the recommended interval is three years, he personally thinks four years is fine.

While leaving my cube for the last time was harder than I expected, my first couple of days of unemployment have been much easier than I thought they would be. I thought I’d feel bereft, purposeless, culled from the herd, but I have a lengthy to-do list and no job to interfere with actually getting stuff done. I always did think I’d just about have time for my hobbies if I didn’t have to work. In sum, what's not great about doing exactly what you feel like doing all day every day? Why didn't I ever think of this before?

As much as I appreciated that my ex-job was fantastic in many ways, I also thought I was going to feel sort of lousy when I arrived at retirement and realized I’d spent 30 years at a corporation whose goals have little overlap with my own.

I received an email from a friend saying I’d better start looking for a job this second, because people don’t want to hire you unless you already have a job. A week ago, that would have plunged me into gut-twisting fear, but today it just seemed like his view of things and, instead of panicking, I decided not to discuss the matter with this person anymore.

The day before my last day of work, a surprising thing happened. In 1998, when the dot-com boom was happening, it occurred to me that I might be able to weasel my way into an entry-level technical job and trade up from there. One objective was to do this without paying for any more education. I was temping at the time, and found myself working for a technical recruiter, which places IT professionals in contract and full-time positions. I asked one of the recruiters what she thought about my idea, and she offered to see what she could do with my resume, and then they sent me to the company that just laid me off, for a two-week assignment doing something just about anyone could do.

My boss and I hit it off—he was a really great guy—and next thing I knew, I was an employee. My plan worked just as I had hoped. I remained pals for several years with the recruiter who did me that giant favor, but otherwise lost touch with the recruiting firm. Thirteen years passed, and then last Wednesday, the very day before my job ended, I got an email from the same recruiters asking if I’d be interested in a certain job! I was flabbergasted. Naturally, I turned it down posthaste, because it’s not in San Francisco, and I really, really don’t have time to commute (well, I guess I do right now), but the timing was certainly encouraging. Once I get my resume polished up, I’ll send it to them to replace the ancient one they have.

My mother blanched when I told her on the phone that I’d said I wasn’t interested in the job. At least, I thought I heard a faint blanching sound. Which is a lot better than a falling sound.

Not long ago, my mother said very casually, “Whenever I fall down, I’m always afraid I won’t be able to get up.”

I was horrified and demanded to know, “When do you fall down?”

“Whenever I feel like it,” was the smug reply.
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