I used-to laugh about a line from an old rock song by THE WHO: “Hope I die before I get old”. Because I never thought I would live long enough to GET “old”.
Something happened on the way NOT living this long. I got out of my self destructive ways and decided to live as long as I could. But on the way…
Damn, I got “old”.
I have worked in a small factory for 40 years (if I am still there in early September 2017!). HARD work. PHYSICAL. Push, pull lift fall get crushed cut bruised. FOR 40 YEARS. Nothing broken. Ok maybe something in my lower back and tail cracked when I fell between loads of wood while loading it. I have done all kinds of jobs there. I have tried to keep fit to DO all kinds of jobs there. Get injured then get back to it. Keep at it so you can keep making a living.
Due to panic attacks and anxiety, I never got through college. Had to quit and never went back. Time passed and opportunities for a better job passed me by because I fear panic attacks. The factory was a secure place for me. Ok sort of: Year after year they talked about the place going down. Workers needed to sacrifice and work harder.
So I did.
I sacrificed my body and finally got to a point where I realized… I am getting too old too SORE for this shit but…
I have to keep doing it because I am deep shit in debt and nowhere else to go no retirement no nothing from that place.
Recently the boss put me on doing some assembly work. Faster! Faster! Then they had me assembling the heavier stuff. Laughing at me because I was slow. My body not responding to my mental commands to GO FASTER!
Then it occurs to me that … that damned place could cripple or kill me trying to do the work they want me to do so FAST. Be worth the wages they pay me! (No medical no retirement just barely survival wages).
For years it was a joke with my boss that if I became crippled (back aches) they would just have me wheel myself around and work from a wheel chair. That callous attitude about the workers. EXPENDABLE. I know that if I cannot work anymore that they can get a younger person for less pay.
They do not UNDERSTAND that at 62 I cannot be whipped hard enough to GO faster. I could work as fast or faster than others … If I was 40 or 30 or 20 … as I once was. They see me limping and walking stiff from years of accumulated old injuries. They don’t understand what happens what AGE DOES TO A BODY.
Today a coworker laughed by saying his son (age 19) could produce in 1 day what I do in 2 weeks. Possibly true. At 19 I was fast. At 19 I had endurance. At the big mouthes age of 44 I was faster. I had his endurance. Do I even remember “44” or “19” ?
I have been injured a few times trying to go too fast. Irony. 2 concussions from it. Cuts. More recent cuts because my hands freeze from exhaustion. Cramping.
I have come to that point now where I am aware that I got old. I feel rust eating into the body of this machine. I do what I can to keep it off and keep this machine going. I wish I could add some grease to my joints and replace a few parts here and there. I feel so many aches in this body and dread what will happen in 6 months or a year. “62 isn’t that OLD” I keep telling myself. I get up in the morning, sit on the edge of the bed and realized I never did that before. Sat there reluctant to start the day. I used-to jump out of bed and now I groan out of bed.
I used-to laugh at my dad talking about his aches and pains. HIS happened to him in his very active youth and cursed him in his old age. I realized listening to him for year that I have to have a better diet and lifestyle than he did. Be like an athlete training for the olympics. Eat good. Exercise. TRAIN. Get enough sleep. Live clean. Got most of that down but stopping age is not happening. It is chipping away at me and I keep trying to glue those chips back on.
It is scary to me now.
At my age I remember the bad that happens as we age. The illnesses and weaknesses that assail us.
I question how sharp my mind and memory is every day. When I bend to a knee I wonder if I can get back up. So far I have. I am writing this very fast so it shows my mind is fairly good. My memory is shit because it always has been shit.
There is an evil part of my mind that secretly wishes for my younger coworkers to get hurt and FEEL THE PAINS I HAVE FELT! The wisdom of age (the good of age) rejects it and replaces it with I hope you guys live long healthy lives.
The beauty and joy of aging is going beyond all the pains
all the bitching.
Put up and shut up then laugh about it all.
See younger people as foolish puppies shitting all over the place and barking non stop.
Things that THEY have not learned and may never learned.
Badges of courage for LEARNING all that.
Badges of humility for smiling when the youth winds blow
then blowing off their ignorance…
Nodding and smiling…
If you live long enough maybe kid,
Maybe you’ll understand why I was the way I was
and how it is,
I knew how you ARE.