By DON VOWELL
I can remember when I worried about the weather forecast. Most of my career was spent working outdoors. Not the world’s quickest student, I eventually realized that all of my workdays were outdoors, regardless of any forecast. So I stopped watching broadcast weather predictions and from that point forward was relieved of dreading the next day because of them.
Now I don’t have any career. This weekend was pretty wet and miserable. Weather is ordinarily just a quiet backdrop to all that goes on in a day, sometimes lovely and other times not. On Saturday and Sunday the weather shouldered right in, boisterous and extreme, demanding our full attention, even altering plans in some cases. I had the decency to remember my former peers out there trudging around in the horizontal sheets of rain. Still, it was satisfying to know that I could observe this sloppy meteorological pageantry while curled into a pillow at the corner of the futon.
That is a good-sized reward. My car is old and the warranty is expired. Our carpet needs replacing. It would be better if we had more retirement savings. My phone is not smart. None of that seemed a bother when weighed against the privilege of being released from mandatory drenching. I got to watch pieces of some very good college football games. I got to read. I got to stay inside. This may have been my first true understanding of retirement.
There is no system yet, no schedule. I had thought that I could dedicate some of the newly available leisure time to a more disciplined and broad reading about problems facing us as American citizens and finding some fresh avenues of thought for their solution. Nahh.
Problems are easy to identify and even some solutions can find general agreement. If we have Congress as the only means of enacting solutions then we are sunk.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the latest in a depressing series of congressional popinjays mistaking notoriety for statesmanship, yesterday said that he wishes Sen. Harry Reid wouldn’t shut down the government. Sen. Cruz is amazed at the resistance to any compromise on the Affordable Care Act. The ACA, as it stands, is already compromised nearly to death. It was enacted that way. The government option and much else was surgically removed. The only parties escaping damage were, as ever, the insurance companies. Sen. Cruz is resorting to extortion, having failed to have his way by finding support for any traditional form of lawmaking.
There are no solutions that will fit into a fifteen-second sound bite, or onto a sticker that will fit your bumper. To spend time reading media releases of these legislators seems like a horrible waste of retirement. The only solution I can imagine right now is to have the whole crowd, senators and representatives, join me in retirement. When we are all safely out of the way it will be your job to find some people with integrity, compassion, and humility enough to run the country.
(Don Vowell is a retired postal carrier. He lives in Keizer.)