Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you.
Forget the dead you’ve left, they will not follow you.
The vagabond who’s rapping at your door
is standing in the clothes that you once wore.
Strike another match, go start anew
and it’s all over now, Baby Blue.
(It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue / Bob Dylan, 1965)
My dad couldn’t tolerate having an indoor job. He grew up on a dairy farm, so working in a factory or an office just wouldn’t do. Not that he cared for cows so much, it was just the outdoors thing. After WW2 when he moved to Detroit and got married, he did give it a try working in the auto factories that were humming along. But something called him, and he gave up the opportunity to learn a skilled trade just to be outside, driving a truck for Joe Vlasic.
I have a bit of that in me too, but it got repressed in favor of higher levels of financial compensation. And truth be told, working indoors as a computer sysadmin had its appeal. Clean, quiet (unless you spend all your time standing behind the exhaust fans of a server rack), often requiring a bit of thinking, generally intelligent colleagues, and it paid pretty well. Also, flex-time and no bosses looking over your shoulder. Even if they tried, most likely they didn’t understand what you were doing anyway.
Most of the time I was working in a couple of 10+ story buildings in El Segundo, California, overlooking the LAX runways with 5,000-10,000′ mountains as a backdrop on a clear day. The work itself took place throughout various inner sanctums that had no windows, but your typical sysadmin likes to take full advantage of the recommendation of ergonomic experts to get up and wander around periodically. I’d wander into offices that had windows and practice my fifty mile stare while cradling a warm mug of coffee. Sometimes, Mario and I would even step on up to the rooftop where there was a helicopter pad. No lock or alarm on the door, so why not? That ability to get up and wander to where the views were nice perhaps was what made the indoor life tolerable.
But it’s all over now.
I pulled the rip cord a couple of Fridays back after 29+ years at Hughes/Raytheon. That picture above shows the last badge, a temporary paper one they give you after the security debrief where they take your real badge and any classified area add-ons. The paper badge is only good for the day you get it, and it won’t get you into any classified areas. But you do get to keep it as a souvenir.
A number of co-workers asked me why I wasn’t staying until the end of the year, or even longer, such as early social-security age. After all, that TS clearance made my job pretty secure, I was not being eased out the door. So I think about that verse from the Dylan song, a vagabond rapping at my door in clothes I once wore. As I am writing this, my old Richard Pontvert “Galibier” model hiking boots are sitting on the floor next to me, waiting for a light cleaning and application of water-proofing. They are clothes I once wore, having purchased them at an Ann Arbor MI outdoors shop in 1977. Heavy duty, meant for hiking in rough, rocky terrain. I’ve done a fair amount of that, to the point where I had the boots re-soled at a specialty shop in the gateway to the Eastern Sierra of Bishop CA. The soles and the uppers are in great shape, ready for many more miles, ready like me to get on the trail.
But first, a party is in order.
70+ pals from work, cycling, open mics, neighbors and relatives. I’ve done four real estate deals with Arda & Carl Clark, so as a gift they financed having Andy & Renee play at the party. The invitation specified no additional gifts, but some folks just gotta do it, bless their hearts. Such as
We had an open mic session, and then I got to play a song with Andy & Renee – the Tom Petty arrangement of his own song Cabin Down Below. Here are some pics from the party