Boarding the retirement train


That day is almost here. The day I knew would come.

And it seems to be coming quickly.

I mentioned in last week’s column that retirement is right around the corner for me, and some of my witty friends wanted to make sure I am aware of the unlimited opportunities that lay ahead of me.

One friend sent me a small pamphlet containing several motivational phrases to keep in mind as the big day arrives.

“The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.” — Vince Lombardi

“At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.” — Ann Landers

Still another friend sent me a curious partial David Letterman Top Ten List about Mr. Peanut titled, “A Few Surprises in the Mr. Peanut Autobiography”: 10. First name Keith 9. His mother was half cashew 8. Sleeps in a big pile of dirt 7. Peanut language not that different from English 6. Once appeared at the Clinton County Corn Festival.

I think he sent me the wrong list. I don’t know what Mr. Peanut or David Letterman, for that matter, have to do with retirement, other than one is retired and perhaps the other one should be.

“What will you do once you retire?” I am asked often.

My answer may surprise some people.

I have always enjoyed buses and trains. Thinking back to my childhood, a special delight for me was when my mother and I traveled to the Xenia bus station and rode the Greyhound bus to Dayton, and then downtown to do Christmas shopping. It is a romantic notion to be sure, but the experience left a lasting impression on me.

Years ago when son Greg was 9 years old, he and I traveled to Columbus and rode the bus to go shopping. We passed by the House of Magic as we made our way downtown, looked out the window and saw the Peanut House on North High Street. (Yes, there was a giant Mr. Peanut lurking inside the store).

We changed buses at High and Broad streets, and continued our journey out to the old Westland shopping center on the west side. I was in the market to buy a new police scanner and decided to go into the Sears store to look around.

My nickname for Greg is “Bud.” As I looked at scanners, Greg knelt down and was also looking at the different scanners when an elderly salesperson with the name “Bud” on his name badge went over to Greg.

With a scowl on his face and a loud voice, the man barked at Greg, “What do you think you are doing?” The older man scared young “Bud” so badly, Greg couldn’t seem to get up. Instead, he crawled all the way across the large room on his knees, back to the safety of my care.

I walked over to the clerk and told him he had frightened my son, and we were taking our business elsewhere. Greg and I will reminisce and often have a good laugh about the tale of the “two Buds” and our bus ride in Columbus.

As our talk shifts back to retirement, I told Brenda recently I might consider pursuing my longstanding desire to be a bus driver, perhaps in a large city, or more likely drive a tour bus for sightseeing trips and excursions.

On the other hand, railroads have always fascinated me, as well. There is the element of adventure on a railroad I find most appealing, and the possibility of meeting a diversity of people is alluring, too.

A few years ago, on an Amtrak train outside Charlottesville, Virginia, I heard the following dialogue between two middle-aged female passengers:

“I received an interesting call yesterday,” the one woman said, pouring herself another drink.

“Oh, really? What was it?” the second woman answered.

“Do you remember Hugh O’Brian who used to play Wyatt Earp on television?” said the first woman. “He is coming to town and wants to have dinner with me.”

The second woman didn’t look up from her newspaper, but said, “I think he died a few years ago. It sounds like a prank to me. Where are you going to eat?”

“He didn’t say. He is going to call back tomorrow,” the first woman said.

“Sounds like a prank to me,” the second woman said as she folded up her newspaper and said goodbye to her friend as they rolled into Culpepper.

So the next time you hear, “Go Greyhound and Leave the Driving to Us” or the words, “All aboard! Tickets, please” … Look closely.

It might be someone you know.

Pat Haley is a Clinton County commissioner and former Clinton County sheriff.

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