As I signal my way into the left lane of U.S. 1, I immediately realize my mistake. Not five seconds after doing so, a pick-up truck also changes lanes and is now intimate and somewhat disrespectful of my car’s personal space. Tailgating is one thing, but this is more like bumper cars at the fair. When you can clearly make out the driver’s Circle-K coffee cup in his hand, perhaps things are just a little too cozy at 60 miles per hour.
Ah, yes, the morning rush hour commute. I had forgotten its charms.
I am running late for work. How the hell did this happen?
It had always been a pre-retirement plan of mine to return to work in some kind of part-time capacity. After making a few rookie mistakes within a month or two of our settling in Florida (i.e. applying for so-called “jobs” on Craigslist or sites such as Monster¹), I quickly focused on a more comfortable pursuit: being a full-time blogger and establishing street cred as a self-appointed bon vivant. I was in no hurry to return to anything that resembled my former life.
My undoing was subscribing to an email list of actual library jobs in the state of Florida. Along with my morning cup of coffee, I would skim through the daily listing of vacancies while whispering faux indignancies of “never,“ “are you kidding me?,” “oh, please“, or “when pigs fly, maybe.” The mere act of subscribing to this service provided me with a self-fulfilling prophecy to abstain from any formal working environment. Apparently no job in my former line of work could ever be good enough for me anymore.
Until that is when one that is perfect for me in every way ruined my beautifully constructed karma of late morning wake-ups and 9:30pm egg foo young runs. I had such a good thing going for myself too.
Without my knowledge at all, my computer clicked on a link, uploaded my resume, and applied for a job. It’s a scary scenario. One minute he and I are simpatico in spending our afternoons watching old Dean Martin roasts on YouTube (wasn’t Orson Welles freakishly scary when he used his immense girth to fake-laugh through those awful Foster Brooks jokes?), and the next he’s deciding that I need to get out more.
Everyone said, “Get a Mac, it’ll simplify you’re life!” I now live in fear of the damn thing.
Anyway, since August I have been working part-time at a county public law library. I answer reference questions from mostly pro-se litigants (people who represent themselves) and a smattering of local attorneys who use the library. I wouldn’t say I’m back in the saddle again, but it is pretty much like putting on an old fuzzy sweatshirt that’s sat in the bottom drawer for the last two years. It still fits, but it needs a good washing.
Because my knowledge of Florida law was sadly limited to media coverage of the “Stand Your Ground” statute only, I face a bit of a learning curve. But I quickly grasp the “Summary of Administration” rules to probate a will, how to change the terms of a court-ordered probation, and how to assist those who come in wanting to file for divorce or seek child custody. There are forms for each of these things, and I now (hopefully) know which of them to offer someone.
I spent my entire career focused on the sometimes high-minded and esoteric issues of federal law. This job, however, has me interacting with people who have concerns that are more immediate, pressing, and commonplace. It involves a slightly different skill set than the one I previously used. I noticed immediately that I’m rusty.
After three weeks of working alongside each of my new co-workers in informal orientation sessions, I am set loose to work my own solo shift. Poof! I’m an employed librarian again, skill set be damned.
My schedule is generally two days a week, approximately 8-10 hours total, with a mix of either morning or afternoon coverage. One Saturday a month I have to open and close the library from 9-1 pm. Back when I was working full-time I used to fantasize about having hours like these. So what happened the first morning I had to get up by 7:00am? I bitched and moaned, and Gorgeous gave me absolutely no sympathy. Put your big boy pants on, dude, and bring a carton of milk home when you return. She’s strict.
Speaking of pants, I still have no use for my former work wardrobe which continues to sit idle in my closet. I guess they remain for weddings, funerals, and bar mitzvahs only. This job allows me to come in wearing nice jeans, a casual button-down, and a pair of comfy sneakers. It reminds me of that silly “Casual Friday” phenomenon back in the nineties. I wish I had kept the missive management sent out giving us “permission” to dress down in an appropriate manner. In hindsight, it may have been my Buzzcocks t-shirt that inspired their memo. I certainly thought it was appropriate.
My start at this library coincides with an annual requirement that staff be retrained in CPR techniques. We all have to come in on a Saturday for a five and a half hour class on it, and are required to read a study book ahead of time. I skimmed the book only. Sadly, my interest in CPR and lifesaving is limited to watching Baywatch reruns and pretending to focus on the beaches and beauty of the California coastline. Somehow I made it through the class, though I clearly didn’t fool the instructor at all.
Next year Gorgeous and I will in all likelihood move to what I hope is our “forever home” in St. Augustine, which is about three hours to the north of where we live now. So I’ll lose this job. Perhaps I can latch onto something else similar up there. In the interim, it’s good to make a few extra shekels and build a tiny network of Florida library contacts. I even created yet another LinkedIn account after I unceremoniously ditched my previous one (“2014-2016: online philosopher, spirit mixer“).
So I do ask for your collective patience if you see me on the road on the morning or evening commute. I’m still a little out of practice with that whole rushing thing. And please: don’t be so intimate with my car.
Until next time…
¹ In hindsight I’m really, REALLY glad I never found a job from either of those sites. Only in some parallel universe can I ever imagine saying the words, “Yeah, I found my job off of Monster. Pretty cool, huh?” Who names a web site for jobs “Monster” anyway?