Work and having a profession bring order and routine to one’s life. When one is retired either by choice of by the contemporary term, so British but so universal called redundancy one feels adrift with the addition of intervals of doldrums.
The phone does not ring because most of a certain age eschew personal communications, be they in person or by voice. Two-thumb, two-way exchanges are safer and easier. When the phone does ring it is one of our daughters or my friend Ian who lives in North Vancouver, British Columbia. My other friends, acquaintances and contacts have become invisible.
I remember arriving at a Pemex gas station during my years in Mexico City and being accosted by people selling Chiclets and lottery tickets. They would also suddenly appear at red lights. It may have been in the Mexico of the late 60s that I met up with my first windshield washers who would start their job before I could even say, “No.” The best way of preventing any communication was not to look at these people in the eye. As a young man with no sense of ethics towards my fellow men I thought that this technique the same that I used with dogs (if you do not make eye contact with a dog, more often the dog will not climb on you or lick you). By the time Rosemary and our two daughters left Mexico in 1975 and moved to Vancouver I regretted these actions in which I depersonalized these people who at the very least deserved my consideration of their humanity. It was also at about the time when traffic in the Mexico City beltway, the Periférico became so bad that with cars virtually stopped at rush hour you could now not only ignore the lottery ticket and Chiclet’s vendors, the fire eaters but also the women offering blow jobs.
It was momentarily refreshing to arrive in Vancouver and experience the pleasure of not having to deal with anybody at the self-serve gas bar.
I am now committed after all these years to using the self-serve gas bars but I feel some regret. I have noticed how my prosperous new-immigrant neighbours arrive at their garages in their hermetic big SUVs and how the doors of the garages are whisked open and shut with me not being able to even say a good afternoon. These new immigrants just like yours truly who at one time hailed from Mexico, are not used to immediate communication with those who are not friends or relatives. We de-personalize them and that way they do not exist.
The above may be a long-winded attempt on my part to rationalize why my telephone does not ring. At least twice a day it does ring and that great invention, call display, that filters those who call, informs me it is an unknown number or a toll-free one. I know what to expect. I say, “Hello,” once or twice and by the time the robot caller can answer me I am gone. I regret even these actions as those who want to make that survey must feel very much like those who sold lottery tickets at the Mexican gas stations.
So it is with much enjoyment that my wife Rosemary and I prepare on Fridays what we are going to cook for my daughter Hilary and her daughters (my granddaughters), Lauren and Rebecca on Saturday. We fuss and shop. We vacuum and clean windows. Rosemary mops the white kitchen floor. I select what film we will see after dinner. We savour these Saturday afternoons knowing that soon they might be no more. Rebecca will have dates on Saturdays and not much after so will Lauren.
Rosemary’s cat (an 18 pounder) Casi-Casi also likes the breaking of our daily lack of routine. He seems to have a special relationship with Lauren. On Sunny Saturdays they sit on the metal bench in the back garden or he follows Lauren who lures him with long multi-coloured ribbons.
Today is a sunny Saturday. Fall does not seem far away. The roses are waning and some of them do not open. I cut some of these roses and scanned them for today’s blog hoping that I will be able to write, here, next year, at this time, on the very same subject.
Sometime soon, I hope, too, that Rebecca might be persuaded to pick up the phone and call and say, “¿Qué tal Papi, cómo estás?