It didn’t take long for us to recognize that full-out retirement would remain out of our grasp for yet a while longer. Despite our best effort to wind up with an adequate pile of dough after the sale of our farm-minus-the purchase of our new house, we quickly realized the pile isn’t quite adequate enough.
Or maybe it is. Really, who’s to say? If we knew we’d be dropping dead in ten years, there’d be no need for additional income. On the other hand, should either or both of us endure to a ripe old age, the well will surely run dry. I’m no good at watching a savings account dwindle anyway. I tend to freak out. And no matter how long life might last, it’s the quality of the thing that really counts — so for John’s sake probably more than mine (being as he’s the one who’s stuck living with me) we began looking for part-time jobs fairly soon after we moved here.
I was the first to submit an application in response to an ad for part-time copy editor at the local weekly newspaper. I know darn well I could do the job, but understand why I wasn’t called in for an interview. A resume listing my profession as organic farmer the past 14 years doesn’t exactly scream “Proofreader!”
John, however, hit the jackpot on his first attempt at gainful employment. A nifty little local foods store in the neighboring town of Chimacum recently advertised an opening for evening checkout clerk.
He went in to talk with the powers that be and two days later was offered a position not as cashier, but as righthand man to the general manager, working four days a week primarily in the produce department doing the purchasing and acting as liaison with local farmers. It couldn’t be more perfect. (What am I saying? Of course it could. “Perfect” would be early retirement, baby, sleep in every morning and hit the pickleball court in the afternoon. But see paragraph 1, above.)
During John’s initial interview, the general manager asked if his wife might ever want to work there as well. The answer is yes. There are no positions open right now, yet it’d be nice if one day there might be.
Which is why I was a little nervous about meeting John’s employers for the first time at a pig roast the store was hosting as a kickoff event for the annual East Jefferson County farm tour, four days after John began working there.
The general manager was so harried and busy with the pig event, our initial encounter that afternoon was brief but pleasant. John also introduced me to his co-workers, all of whom were friendly and down to earth, just as one would expect from people who work at a place that’s so matter-of-fact about where to get food, and what to do with it.
Later in the evening, after dining on everything but the pig, John and I ventured back into the beer and wine tent for an aperitif where we ran into one of the owners of the store, a very enthusiastic man indeed. Once he finished raving about how Thrilled! they are to have “JD” (as they’re calling John) on board, the conversation segued from farming for a living to beef cattle — he was Excited! to tell us he has several — to where he met his wife. In medical school, it so happens, prompting me to ask what type of doctor he is.
“I’m an Interventional Neuroradiologist specializing in AVM Embolization!” he exclaimed, ebullient as ever.
Well well. Um. Hm. Isn’t that something?
Losing none of his fervor yet understanding the need to dumb it down for us non-med school types, he went on to describe how a typical procedure begins by threading a tiny tube into a vein in the upper thigh and snaking it up, through the heart and ultimately into the brain.
“I’ve had that done!” I shouted.
By then, see, his exhilaration had rubbed off on me. Or maybe it was the third glass of wine that did it. Whatever the case, there was no stopping us at that point.
“You HAVE!” he cried out. “Wow! Did you have brain surgery?!”
“Yes I did! Meningioma surgery in 2008, and I had one of those procedures beforehand! Truth is, though, I didn’t enjoy it.”
“Oh…you were awake for it?”
Oopsy. At that point, it dawned on me that I hadn’t let him completely finish what he meant by an AVM Embolization and realized the procedure I had done wasn’t actually one of those. Oh, they threaded a tube through my thigh, my heart and into my brain all right, but nothing was embolized. Or AVM’d.
I panicked. Should I disrupt the mutual elation we had going? What if I were to admit at this stage in the game that no, in fact it wasn’t at all what I’d had done? At worst, I’d appear to have been a liar; at the very least, it would break the momentum and quite possibly cause the conversation to devolve into uncomfortable harrumphs and ahems.
Before I could make up my mind, he said, “I’ve often wondered about the difference between keeping the patient awake as opposed to using general anesthesia.”
Right about that time, the store’s general manager pulled up a chair beside John. Immediately, the owner pointed to me and shouted, “She’s had brain surgery!”
Understandably, the general manager looked a little befuddled. Politely, he replied, “Oh, really?”
“Yes!” cried the owner. “Meningioma! A benign tumor in the lining of the brain!”
The general manager quietly excused himself from the table.
Which brings me back to the possibility of getting a job at the store some day. Whereas the owner and I bonded over the joys of meningioma surgery, I got the distinct feeling the general manager isn’t quite as enamored with benign brain tumors (weird!). And since the general manager is the one who does the hiring…
See you at the pickleball court!