Friday, March 26, 2010

Bah, Humbug!

Today was not the last day for Bernie to work, and probably Monday won't be, either.

It's his own damn fault for being THE employee in Plastics who has a knowledge of all the jobs and the capability to make whatever is left of manufacture and assembly work smoothly. That kind of perception was his glory when he first started messing with automotive manufacturing back when Alex was two; thirty-two years later, it precludes him from being the first out the door.

Some of the employees were told on Wednesday that Thursday would be their last day, and Bernie said that they were cheering and dancing in delight. He said he had a hard time feeling happy for them, a hard time stifling the immediate resentment that he wasn't among them. In this, I concur.

It will be a grand opportunity to see a giant operation slowly roll to its knees, and then topple slowly to its side to slumber, and then to die. Not many people get to see that happen. Perhaps Bernie will get to hear the echoes of the plant as the machinery shuts down completely, and that will be a sensory feast so rare and so monumental that one could hardly pass up the chance to experience it.

On the other hand, everyone who works with Bernie, from top to bottom levels of employment, knows how little he likes having to stay beyond what he has to. They all know he's tired, and wants to be home with the family. How cruel for them to make him stay longer simply because he has always done the very best that he can for the company!

I'm tired of having NUMMI own his ass. I want it back, for myself. I want more than two hours a day to listen to him, and talk to him, and hold his hand. I want to sneak out before sunrise for walks in the dark by the river. I want to occasionally get in the car and say, "Hey, where would this road take us?"

A friend called this morning and in the course of the conversation, she asked tentatively, as though she were treading on sensitive ground, "What do you think you'll do when he's done with his job?"

"Uhh ... LIVE?" I sputtered. We'll get a life! We'll be bad kids and play in the sprinklers every day! We'll buy bags of cherries from the street vendors, and munch them and spit the pits out the moon-roof of the car while we're traveling 50 mph! We'll wear pajamas all day! We'll write stories and more stories and build stuff and play catch with the grand daughter and romp with the dogs and lie in the sun like fat happy lizards. We'll shop for bargains. We'll soak in the Joy of Existence, for which all was created.

We have no fear of this upcoming change -- we've been good little ants and socked away lots of seeds in times of plenty. (What else was there to do when he was working such horrendous amounts of mandatory overtime?) We lose nothing in this transition, except pain and stress and disgust.

Bah, humbug! It should have ended today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sifting for Peace

Bernie and his fellow employees were given their End of Job instructions the other day. They were told that they would have little time on the last day to gather their possessions, and then they would be escorted to the Personnel Building to sign some papers and receive their last two paychecks.

Whoa! The last two paychecks? At once? That would mean that Friday, this coming Friday, the Friday that is only two days hence, is their last day!

The company has been saying that April 1st is the last day, though I believe they would be paid through Friday, as Good Friday is a paid holiday. Certainly it makes sense to shuffle the workers out of there sooner than that, however, as shutdowns tend to bring out the stickiest fingers in employees.

We've had notarized and turned in the papers that allow Bern to roll his 401k into another retirement account; he cleaned out his locker last week. "Stuff" is done, and now it's a matter of counting down the hours, wanting the time to BE here NOW, with all the usual aches and pains and irritations tremendously magnified by anticipation of being free of them.

I will never miss seeing him so tired his skin looks grayish. Or seeing him limping, or favoring an arm because the 10-hour physical labor is wearing out his joints. I won't miss how angry he gets on his commute in the afternoon (we converse by cell phone -- hands-free sets, of course -- until he's safely there) or waking at 3am wondering if he's on the road, or just leaving the plant, and praying fervently and nervously that he gets home in one piece.

I also don't think I'm going to miss being alone so much of the time. Since we got down to the six weeks mark, it has been harder and harder for me to rally and work in the mornings. I want him to be awake, and not have to sleep until noon. I don't want to do things by myself any more, and find it difficult to get moving, because the time is so short until he CAN be with me.

So there's tension in our air, waiting, and this weekend, too, we're going to be "sitting Seder" here at the house, which is a big deal for us. We moved furniture last weekend, to make the big room clear enough for tables for 20; Lillian and I scrubbed baseboards; the lamb roasts are thawing in the fridge; the ritual foods are ready. The Seder Sing-Along Song Books are prepared; tomorrow I'll probably iron the Seder tablecloth. We arranged for chair rental today, and in keeping with the Passover time of year, both dogs are in the middle of spring shed, leaving drifts of black and caramel hair EVERYWHERE.

Tonight the nursing home called me to update me on Mom's condition. She actually weighs a decent weight now; she was severely malnourished the last time I saw her. (I couldn't understand how she kept going!) She's been having problems with incontinence, but that's Alzheimers for you: the perfect purgation disease. Having trouble giving up your worldly existence and goods? No problem! Alzheimers will take care of all that for you, from those pesky checkbooks and bills all the way down to your last shred of dignity! Anyway, the caregivers are not pumping her full of tranquilizers now, and so she's refusing to wear her dentures and yet complaining in the dining room that she can't eat because she has no teeth.

The beauty and poise of the freesias, especially the white ones, reminds me that there is a well of peace from which I can drink and rest easy in the times of turbulence. In spite of all the hurry and worry and twitchies, life is beautiful, and if we can just listen the right way, that strange thing we call "grace" with bring all of it into harmony.

The hard part is just stopping to listen.

Monday, March 15, 2010

More new computer crap

I did find a way around the Windows 7 vs. Photoshop 7 problem:

In Gmail, I choose to "view" the photograph, then right click on it. Copy image. Then in Photoshop, I select "New" in Files. The window that comes up offers a file of the exact right size. I open the empty new file, and Paste the image. Bingo.

That was a relief. I was happy again with the computer, until today, when I found out that the Bamboo Graphics Tablet hates Windows 7. Vista and XP were agreeable to it. Fine, I thought, I'll just draw the damned picture I want and scan it in.

My scanner will not work with Windows 7.

I did a search for a driver download, and found one. But not for free, babies.

Here are my options: Driver Download for $50. Might work.

Get the Windows 7 patch that allows me to use stuff like Photoshop, Bamboo Graphics Tablet, and old scanner for $100. Might work.

Buy a new scanner that works with Windows 7. God alone knows how much that will cost with the extra cable and the doo-dah. Probably will work if I buy a new enough model, which you know is going to run me well over $100.

Or, I set up the old computer and run back and forth through the house, scanning stuff with the old computer, emailing it to myself and downloading it back here at the far end of the house.

I know what I can afford ... and I know what I cannot bring myself to pay to pander to this Planned Obsolescence crap.

I need the exercise, anyway, I guess.