Massive military retirement check? Um no, it's nice but you can't live on it. Well, I suppose I could if I did not mind moving to a Third World country. Which yes, I do mind. Though I'm good with languages, I kind of like my home country. I mean, "The Constitution!" Am I right?
Tropic isle? No, I live in Rhode Island. Which is not tropical by any stretch of the imagination and I don't actually live on an island. For you see, Little Rhody's official name is "The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations." The Rhode Island part is an actual island which is known locally as Aquidneck Island, or as the residents call it, "The Island," as if there is no other. I live in the "Providence Plantations" part of the state. Not an island, not tropical. (Last I looked, the snow was still coming down...)
My own private jet? Again, um, no. If I did own a private jet it would no doubt be made by Monogram or Hasegawa and would look nice on my desk but I couldn't go anywhere with it. Let alone fly. Not unless I put it in my carry-on luggage on a commercial airline.
So Dear Reader, when I retired from the blue machine, I had to get, what we in the military used to call, "A Real Job."
Regular hours, higher pay, different benefits, less job security. But when I retired, I was still looking. That is, I went from being in the military to being unemployed. (No, not like those guys in the picture. I did have the Air Force retirement check, those guys, they had very little. Or so I'm told.)
So what did I do? Ah, therein lies today's tale.
With that being said...*
After a long flight from Brussels, we stepped off the plane at Bradley International, The Missus Herself, The Naviguessor, The Nuke, The WSO, Pat (our German-born feline, somewhat bedraggled and not very happy about coming to the New World in steerage, after a fashion) and Your Humble Scribe. There to be greeted by my parents, who kindly offered their services as hosts until such time as I myself could find gainful employment, and they were accompanied by my brother The Olde Vermonter and his wife, the lady my sister-in-law, Mrs. Olde Vermonter.
We all piled in to a rather large van and after a two hour journey northward, we arrived at our temporary home.
We settled in to Mom and Dad's humble abode (not the house where I grew up mind you, The Olde Vermonter and his tribe were then, as now, the occupants of the ancestral palace) and I began my search for a paying job. Equipped with college degrees and a fairly good internet connection, I searched the electronic world. I believe Monster.com played a role in that search.
My father, being very old school, thought that looking through the want ads and pounding the pavement were the way to a technical career. I explained that, "No dear Father, this internet thing is all the rage now. I enter data, people look at the data and before too long... Voilà! I shall be employed."
He was, shall we say, skeptical. He did help some, taking me to offices where "we might have something..." and then later we went to job interviews farther afield. Each opportunity seemed rather like something a high school graduate could do. Things seemed rather, I don't know, "minor league"? Not that I looked down my nose at these opportunities, but they were all very tentative and "we'll let you know." One fellow actually mentioned that I might be, how do you say, "over qualified."
Of course, I was. But I wanted a paying gig, damn it. Someone hire me, I'm very loyal and won't go haring off to new opportunities just for a few more bits of silver. No, that's not my way. Trust me.
But all was for naught. It seemed that I might, perhaps, be living with my parents for a long time. All involved looked upon that prospect with a certain, shall we say, trepidation? Yes, yes, we will say that. Because guests, even beloved, blood relative guests start to wear upon a household over time.
And there were seven of us and three cats in one rather small house. Two bedrooms, there were days when the place looked like Oddball's encampment in Kelly's Heroes. Seriously.
Okay, kind of like that. But without the tanks. The music was different too, but if you've seen that film, you get my drift. It was, in a word, crowded. And disorganized.
Eventually the day came when I was contacted by a headhunter.
I don't know. Not material to the story and it's a bit of a digression. But you knew that, didn't you?
So within a day or so, I was in receipt of a package containing airline tickets, hotel reservations and instructions on where to go when I arrived.
Seems I was to fly to Geneva, there I would seek out a man wearing a red carnation in his lapel, carrying a day old copy of the Times. I would go up to him and say, "Pardon me, but aren't you Vasily Zaytsev?"
No. Of course not. I was to fly to Ft Wayne, Indiana, pick up a rental car at the airport, then drive to Don Hall's Guesthouse and check in. The next morning I would go to an interview.
The company I was interviewing with was (and still is) a defense contractor. So first things first, a urine test.
And here I thought I had left the military.
Well, the nice nurse started to explain the niceties and the whys and wherefores of the need to test...
I jumped in and told her that I had recently retired from the Air Force and knew my way around a sample bottle. Render it hither, says I, and do you need to watch?
At that she chuckled and indicated that I could fly solo as it appeared to her that I had no hidden vials of urine secreted about my person.
That being done, off I went.
Interviews went well. That afternoon I flew back to New England, after a lovely (uh, no) sojourn of eight hours in the airport at Pittsburgh. While there are worst places to spend eight hours, it was still eight hours.
A second interview (with a branch of the same defense contractor) happened a week or so later. This time I didn't need to fly anywhere. The interview was in Rhode Island.
Oddly enough, though I grew up in New England, I had never been to Rhode Island. Ever. Because, you see, Rhode Island is not on the way to anywhere from western New Hampshire (Mom and Dad's house) or eastern Vermont (where I grew up). So to have visited Rhode Island as a youth would have required us wanting to go to Rhode Island. Closest I got was Cape Cod. Normally we summered (a weekend here and there) in Maine. A glance at a map will show you that Rhode Island (from the aforementioned locales) is not on the way to Maine. Unless you get lost. Very lost.
Well, first time in Rhode Island, I fell in love with the place. All that salt water appealed to me, for I have ever loved the sea. (So why didn't you join the Navy Sarge? I said I loved the sea, didn't want to marry it. Besides which then I wouldn't be the Old AF Sarge, I'd be someone else. Then who would write all this and, and... - Yup, digression.)
So it came to pass that I received two job offers. One in Ft Wayne, one in Little Rhody. The offer in Little Rhody was five grand more than the one in Ft Wayne. Knowing what I know now about the relative cost of living in those two places, Ft Wayne was probably the better deal financially speaking.
But Ft Wayne has no ocean. No chowda, no lobstah, no quahogs.**
Choosing Little Rhody was a no-brainer. Not to mention it was a lot closer to family.
So that's how it came to pass that I live and work in Little Rhody. By the sea. Dining on chowda and lobstah every day. (No, not really. State law says I have to say that. Again, no, not really.)
Yes, I do like it here. Even though, as of late, the weather has been much too northern Vermont for my tastes. I mean there's a reason I went south. Kept going until I hit the ocean and could go no further.
What's that, a right turn then a left and I'd be in Florida? Where it doesn't snow?
Nah. Way too hot and humid in the summer. (Though right now, hot would be nice. Real nice.)
|Temperature in Little Rhody, as I type...|
** Chowda = clam chowder, lobstah = lobster and a quahog is a type of clam. That latter word is very, very Rhode Island. The other two words are very, very New England. Someday I will teach you about coffee milk and cabinets. But not today.