Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Last of a Generation

Work is murderous at this time of the year. I sit out there in the yard, and watch the heat just rise off of the parking lot cement, making everything right above it look wavy. I soak myself off with the hose, and ten minutes later, I'm dry again. I love the summer and all it brings, but I despise working outside in weather like this. I mean, it's better than winter; my hands don't stop moving in the summer, and there's nothing like whacking your hand on something when it's 32 degrees outside- it hurts like a sonofabitch as that numb, ringing feeling runs from the affected area all the way up your arm.

I feel healthier in the summer too, somehow. There's something about the bitter winter air that plays hell with my lungs, and smoking just aggravates this even more; I hack like a mother in the cold. This never happens in June, even though I tend to smoke more working outside all 50 hours a week. I guess the moral of the story is that I should quit smoking, but I'll ignore that one.

The Yard at Night
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Now that the season has slowed down considerably, the quality of customer drops enormously. Instead of the normal people who come out to Garden centers looking for pavers or stone, we get the old fucking pain in the asses who will come around simply because they have nothing better to do. They come in droves, driving their Crown Victorias or their Mercrury Grand Marquis, wearing those huge black sunglasses they give you when you have surgery for cataracts. They drive slowly, so slowly that you wonder why they're not walking (at least it'd be good for them), and they look out the window with their mouths agape, looking in vain for the Propane Shed, or wherever it is that they are looking to go. The old men walk with their hands behind their back, and their women shuffle after them, yelling for them to slow down. If not for the normal height difference, you'd never be able to tell the men from the women...same short haircuts, bent frames, low, slow voices.

They're always looking for a deal, somehow, someway. Ripped bags of mulch are half off? They'll rip three of them and say they were like that when they came. It kind of amazes me; I mean, you're so close to death, and yet you want to save every dime that you can. It's ironic. If you lived as long as some of these bastards have, you'd think that they knew that you can't take the dough with you, and that the guy with the most of it does not win in the end. Maybe they have some noble cause that I'm not aware of, such as giving the money to their kids as an inheritance. Regardless, it seems strange to me that they're so old, yet so cheap. Christ, if I have enough money late in life, I'll be giving the shit away.

They can never hear too well, so you have to speak louder than you would normally. My great-grandmother was half deaf, so this never really bothered me. For the first ten years of my life I dealt with a woman who could barely hear, but loved me anyway (maybe why I can't really be that harsh). Either way, you have to raise your voice for them to hear you, and, subconciously I think, I make my lips movements a bit more pronounced, so if that's what they're good at, they can figure me out.

When I look at these people, it makes me cringe. Everyone tries to avoid dying young, but when you get old, this is what you get. Trying to pass the time, hoping that you die before your significant seems like such a shitty way to end a life that may have once seemed so meaningful.

When we're children, we're taught that we can do anything, and that the sky is the limit. Of course, no one ever wants to tell us the truth, which is that we have a limit- time. The years pass so quickly that before we know it, we're middle aged and wondering what the hell we were supposed to do in our lives. They say that after 21, the years pass like nothing. I never believed it until my buddies started turning 25; then it dawns on me that I'm really the youngest, and I'm still 22. This shit has flown by.

It's kind of like a cruel joke that the gods play on us, this aging thing. These people gimping about are the remnants of "The Greatest Generation", the ones who saved the world from the greatest threat to freedom in the history of the world. These are the survivors of Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge. This is why I can't be too hard on these old fucks- eventually, I'll probably be like them, and they accomplished quite a bit in their lives. I hope I'll be a little bit cooler than them, and that I'll tip better, but I suspect I won't. Scarily enough, it seems like I'm going to know far sooner than I want to.

I assume this is the reason that so many old folks go to Church. When you've watched everyone you know die, what more do you have except for some outrageous hope that we live past our natural death? All we can hope for is that we somehow live on, and that all that shit they told us in Church is really true. I myself take pride in ghost stories; instead of being scared, I think that it's proof of a God, and that we have somewhere to go after we die. I'm actually happy when I hear a place is haunted, or that those fucks on Ghost Hunters can't explain what's happening. It makes me believe, like no book of fairytales could (read, The Bible) that things are happening around us that we don't understand and can't comprehend. It makes me think that what I am doing on this planet will not be lost in the old, tattered pages of history, but might actually impact my life after death. It gives me hope.

These questions bear down on me every waking hour of every day. In the end, I keep coming back to the simple quotation of one of my favorite guys anywhere, the mighty Apollo Creed, and what he said to Rocky in Rocky IV.

"It's a shame we gotta get old, Stallion. It's a shame we gotta get old".

Yea buddy.

No comments: