While I look forward to retirement, it’s not because I don’t like my job. There’s two main reasons someone stays in a job for 17 years, as I have. One is that they’re so sorry they can’t get another job and the boss is too lazy or afraid to fire them. The other is that they enjoy the job so much they have no reason to look for another one. I’m in that latter group.
There are many aspects of my job I enjoy. But the aspect I enjoy the most is that I regularly get out of the office into “the real world.” Two earlier jobs involved my sitting in an office all day pushing paper. I lasted less than three years in each of those jobs.
A review of my calendar for this year reflects that by mid-November, I’ll have been out of the office 30 times. By the end of December, I’ll add another three or four trips. That comes to about 3 trips per month. After accounting for holidays and vacation, the average is probably one trip per working week.
Fortunately, I’m not out overnight. My entire region is within no more than a two hour drive from the office, so I’m back for dinner.
And, I’m not going to big cities with bad downtown traffic. I’m going to small towns most folks have never heard of. Thursday, I was in Malone. It’s in northern Jackson County, about 5 miles from the Alabama border. Their annual budget is about $350,000. They will receive a $600,000 grant to upgrade their water well. (They were happy to see me.)
Most of the trip was on the Interstate, but the last 30 miles or so was on a nice two-lane “country” road. It’s these portions of business driving trips that I like.
One of the communities I passed through on the way to Malone was a “landmark” because of it’s name. Yes readers, there really is a “Two Egg” and the photographic evidence is below.
One of the… interesting… things about Jackson County, especially the northen portion, is its small, family-owned cotton farms. (One of the cities is called Cottondale.) I passed many such farms on the way to Malone. And it was my luck that the cotton was blooming. For those of you who’ve never seen “cotton in the field”…
Of course, when you’re in the ‘country” and it’s lunch time, there’s often at least one “country” restaurant with some, as Susie puts it, “mighty fine eatin’.” That’s a perk of the job. My co-workers and I often have a “favorite” in each town and associate the town with a restaurant.
For example, when I’m in the Quincy area, it’s the West End Grill. In Blountstown, it’s Minnie Lee’s. In Altha, the Altha Grill. All these places provide a “choice of meat, any two sides, cornbread and iced tea or soft drink” special for anywhere between $6 and $8. My favorite sides are okra and tomatoes and either collard or mustard greens, topped off with some pepper sauce. And in this part of Florida, these are “staples.”
Some of us plan our visits based on what the special is at a favorite restaurant. I always tried to get to Marianna when Dino’s, before it recently closed, had their monster calzones on special for $7. I could only eat half of it and the other half was lunch the next day. And Friday is fried mullet day at the Altha Grill, so that’s the best day to be there.
A few years ago, I was in Live Oak with a group of various state agency folks. We were at a special County Commission meeting that had begun about 3:00. Just before five, the Chairman announced that we were adjourning for dinner because it was fried pork chops day at the Dixie Grill a block away and he wanted to get there before they ran out or the line became too long. Well, too bad for him but I was in the back of the room and shot out the door because I‘m very familiar with the Dixie Grill. Those fried pork chops are…mighty fine eatin’! (The Chairman was still in line when my pork chops arrived.)
I’m going to miss those country drives and those country restaurants when I retire. But I’m not postponing retirement either… Time to let someone else in on the fun!
P.S. As I was writing this, the TV local news was broadcasting live from Quincy about the opening of a $1.5 million park funded from my program, the State Parks agency and local funds. I was invited to the ceremony but since it was Friday and after five… Yesterday, the City held its annual October Fest at the new park with the O’Jays (and I’m old enough to remember them) performing in the amphitheater. That’s another aspect of my job that I like…visible results.