Working Through The Pain

I’m working a physical job that causes me so much pain that throughout the day, I have to stifle a scream.

Because of the pain, I can’t work as fast as others and it’s probably only a matter of time before I’m fired. I should have set more money aside when I was younger. In my mid-60s, I have to work. I should have gotten special training in something because every other kid out of college has the administrative skills that kept me valuable. Shoulda, shoulda, shoulda, and I’m a bit low on options.

A wise friend, when things aren’t pleasant, asks: What’s the ray of sunshine? What good can you take away from this experience?

All my life, I’ve had office positions and pain rarely entered my mind. Sometimes I’d feel stress, but excluding some kidney problems, not much more.

My father, a slaughterhouse butcher, suffered a great deal of pain on the job. He didn’t complain, just went about his business. Many other jobs are painful and very few people seem to talk about it. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” – Thoreau.

One of the take-aways of my job is that I love my father more than ever, if that’s possible. What he sacrificed for the family brings me to tears. If I’d been engulfed in anything approaching the misery in his job, I couldn’t have hung in there — which makes my father a hero.

When I’d pass a construction site, I’d occasionally see a laborer with white hair shuffling through his duties. I knew that as people age they slow down but I didn’t consider the reasons. There’s discomfort! Or if not outright pain, a fear that a quick, false move could tweak a nerve in your back and put you out of work.

There’s an older guy in the produce section of my supermarket who, for years, has worked with his head down. It’s only recently occurred to me that he could be hard of hearing and doesn’t want anyone to talk to him.

I had an older teacher in eighth grade who regularly jotted reminders in a notebook he kept in his pocket. I figured he had a poor memory but I don’t remember thinking it was related to his age. Maybe he was struggling to hold onto that job until he could retire.

I should have paid more attention, asked God to rescue them.

How do old people get by when they’re getting knee or hip replacements? Or they get cancer or some other debilitating disease? Do they have good pensions or asset income? Do they have children who step up to the financial plate?

I try to not dwell too much on what’ll happen to me in a few years. Life seems to work itself out.

On the other hand, when I was in Hollywood, I saw many people living on the streets and some were old. It’s a horror to think I could end up in that situation. But if I do, I hope I won’t blame others. I could have done things differently, and ultimately, most of us have to pay the piper.

I thank God I live in a country that provides Social Security and Medicare. By themselves, they can’t sustain me, but they’re allowing me more time to come up with a solution.



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