Totally jazzed about the Bay Lights, I organized happy hour yesterday at Palomino’s. I sent an email to a dozen friends, then sent an internal email to 17 work friends.
No one showed! Granted only one person confirmed (he ended up flaking on me), but still. I felt like the loner in school who has a birthday party and no one attends. I kept thinking, shit, Dean’s working so he can’t make it. I’m at happy hour which I rarely entertain these days. I’m married so I can’t very well start flirting with the bartenders. I’m a 4’10” midget stuck in a crowded bar, by myself, and utterly screwed.
Luckily I spotted a single seat at the bar and wiggled my way in. A much older man sitting by himself was seated to my right. He advised, “Get your food and drink right away. Everything is taking forever.”
I thanked him and asked if he would be watching the Bay Lights later. He said he was only waiting for traffic to die down before heading home. He went on to say he was a contractor for PG&E. He had retired over a decade ago at the age of 53, but continued to do contract work on a project-by-project basis, depending on his mood and his vacation plans.
“Ahhh, do tell,” I beamed, “How can I retire at 53?”
“PG&E offered early retirement and I decided to go for it. I wasn’t sure whether it was the right decision at the time, but it’s worked out. They call me every now and then to work on projects. It’s good. It works for me. It’s flexible and I’m happy.”
“That’s awesome, “ I responded. “I wish someone would offer me early retirement. I still want to work even after I’m retired, but I want to do something totally mindless like work at Trader Joe’s, checking out groceries. That would be cool.”
“Yeah those kids seem laid-back alright.”
While he flashed his credit card to pay his bill, a woman behind him begged, “If you don’t mind, I’m going to snag your seat when you’re done.”
He nodded, “It’s all yours.” We shook hands and he went on his way.
I offered the same advice to the woman who sat down. “They’re understaffed so whenever you get their attention, order everything at once.”
She said, “I come here all the time. I live in the building next door. It’s never like this!”
“Oh, do you work around here too?”
“Well, I’m technically retired. But I do a lot of volunteer work. My husband and I live in Moraga, but we keep an apartment in the city. I love it here. Plus we love the Giants!”
Was this fate or what? I think I’m meant to retire early. Two early retirees in a row sitting next to me in a crowded bar right before the Grand Lighting of the Bay Lights? This is a sign from God.