December 8, 2010

Attack of the Day People

image from

Selected as an Editor's Pick and cover piece on, Thursday, December 9, 2010

Today represents two weeks since I started my semi-retirement. I've discovered there is a whole sub-culture that exists outside a full-time gig.

These are not Jane-Austen lovin' zombies or vampires who want to make sweet love to you and then bite your neck. Or are they?

This miraculous, undiscovered sub-culture is what I refer to as: The Day People.

As I spent the last thirty years running from place to place during the work day, I was apparently oblivious to the archetypes I've seen repeated in my community in just fourteen days.

Old Folks Drinking Coffee. In the pre-semi-retirement days, I zipped thru one of the local coffee places at high speed. I chose among the usual suspects, Starbucks, local donut shop, or Mickey Dee's, depending on the numbers of cars in line. Most of the staff knew me by my car (recently my obscenely blue Sparkle-Crest toothpaste colored fleet sedan, er, rollerskate).

Now I go inside. And there they are, an entire sub-culture of people. Here's the scary part: some of them are READING A DAILY NEWSPAPER. Have you ever heard of anything so radical? Some of them are actually TALKING TO EACH OTHER.

And they don't text or read anything on their cell phones. Some of them don't even have cell phones.

I've overheard them talking in their secret, cult language. They speak of Part B, dollar cost averaging, and predictably in a doughnut shop, doughnut holes. They also seem to be obsessed with the weather.

"Gonna rain, Bert?"

"Cold enough for you?"

"How about that frost last night?"

They talk a lot about sports, a mind-numbling discussion that sends me into a hypnotic state if I overhear. Occasionally one of them will get up and leave for a medical appointment. Friends watch Ernie drive away in his old Park Avenue Buick or Chevy Malibu, the one with the bumper sticker that says, "I love my grandbabies."

Don't get too cozy here. Because they've eaten my brains. The reason I know about them is that in just two short weeks I've become one of them. Other retired/semi-retired/layedoff/fired fifty plus women who are my friends are calling and wanting to meet me tat one of these places, inside!

My friends want to talk. Have you ever heard of anything so radical? And no more no whip, two pump, skinny mochas. In semi-retirement you get the regular coffee.

Next the ex-beauty queens. I regularly trade at a franchise mailing store. Today I was mailing holiday packages and I stood in line bethind two women, slightly younger than me. I pulled up beside one of them in the parking lot. She drove a white Lexus SUV with one of those fish stickers on the rear window. I know she had to envy my car -- a red eleven-year old Honda sedan with a left crushed fender ("Son, don't hit the side of the house when you back out!")

The two women in line knew each other and I couldn't help but overhear their conversations.

"I'm sending Johnny a care package up at State University," said the first one, resplendent in a red snowman holiday vest, sporting perfect matching red nails, and white boots with fur around the tops. "He was just home last weekend, but I know he and his buddies will enjoy all this during finals week." She piled about ten Toblerone bars, a two-foot decorated Christmas tree, Sun Chips, and a box of tinsel on the counter.

"I'm so silly, I know he's coming home in a few days but I just miss him soooo much."

The second woman asked, "When will he get his grades ?"

"In about a week," said Miss Kokomo 1983, "He refused to set up his own password so I did it for him. Can you believe it? Now he has to type "I love my Mom Janet" everytime he checks his e-mail. Isn't that adorable?"

I feel my skull start to open, a bit of tissue oozing, oozing out. It is happening, my brains are literally being sucked from my head cavity by The Day People. I could feel my brains running down my body, over my Purdue Track and Field t-shirt down to my Walgreens sale sweatpants and onto my Keds.

Second woman, with hair that perfect shade of blonde that mine used to be when I handed over $80, said, "Oh, that's sooooo cute. By the way, is he still dating Chelsea?"

"Yes, I'm sending her a care package also," the first woman laughed and flipped back her hair in the perfect Cover Girl toss.

She made it to the head of the line, and the clerk handed her the UPS form.

"Oh, my God, I don't even know Johnny's address," she said, "Mind if I use your computer?" And then she held up the entire line while she checked his address.

I knew these women. I remembered. They were the same two women who insisted that the PTA meet in the daytime instead of evening. I met them at kindergarten roundup at my son's school in 1995. I never got involved in the PTA because the meetings were during the day, primarily because these two ex-cheerleaders wanted them.

I left. They were eating my brains, I swear. Beware, be warned about The Day People.

They will eat your brains and then spit you out in a perfect crystal vase by Waterford.