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Clouds in My Coffee

October 10, 2011

I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee

“You’re So Vain”, Carly Simon

“Clouds in my coffee” are the confusing aspects of life and love. That which you can’t see through, and yet seems alluring…until. Like a mirage that turns into a dry patch. Perhaps there is something in the bottm of the coffee cup that you could read if you could (like tea leaves or coffee grinds).

Carly Simon 5/17/01

A long time ago and on a continent far, far away, I made the decision to become someone involved in selling things technical.  I found it to be an ideal match of my mechanical aptitude and gift of gab.  Living in a town with more engineers per capita than anywhere in the US, the ability to comminucate with and for engineers (who as a group tend to the socially impaired end of the spectrum) was something seen as a competitive advantage.

Looking back, it was a great decision.

I’ve seen more of the world than I ever imagined – done things beyond my wildest dreams, while providing “the good life” for my wife and daughters.

I’d wanted, a quarter century ago, to be a “captain of Industry”.  Be my own boss, have people working for me who made stuff.  Funny thing happened in 25 years, though…Industry went away.  My company was bought out by a large conglomerate, taking much of the fun out of the job.

I’m halfway around the world, separated from my wife, my daughters, friends and family.


Healthcare.  Our premium as an employee of a large corporation is about $700/month; if we were on our own, the exact same insurance is $11,000/month – that’s right.  Eleven thousand dollars a month for top level healthcare if you’re self-insured.

When we were first married, we had better healthcare at $80/month.  We thought that steep.

The Pheebs called today to let me know we’d recevied an invitation for an American Express Black Card.  Google it if you must.  It’s an exclusive club, this card – one where the one time application fee is more than a Wal-mart employee takes home in five months.  You know the empty seats on sold out flights?  Black Card seats.  Those half-occupied front row seats at the concert sold out in five minutes?  Black Card seats.  Those people who got in at the head of the line?  Black Card holders.

Meanwhile, my eldest daughter, upon graduating from an expensive private college, is happy to have a part-time job paying….

Are you ready for this?

$5.75/hr in 1986 dollars.  Minimum wage in ’86 was $5.25, if I recall.  I made $7.00/hr working at a ski shop just goofing around, living at home; she’s trying to make a life for herself at what is essentially an unsustainable wage.  I have to supplement her income so that she may pay the bills; I have no idea how someone makes it on their own these days.

There’s something terribly wrong with this picture – a world where health care is effectively unaffordable, real wages are depressed to the poverty level while major corporations pay no taxes and a select few are granted a special secret passport  which allows them to jump the line, any line, anywhere in the world.

All men are created equal.

The land of the free.


I have no need for an anodized scrap of titanium with my name on it.  I have no desire to impress concierges and waitstaff halfway around the world.  I do have the need, however, to be with family and friends while providing for them the best I can.

The world has changed, and I with it.  It’s time to hang up the captain’s hat and strike out on a different course.

Wish me luck.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 10, 2011 7:23 am

    YES IT IS:) And everyone at home in Key West is waiting for your return:)

    • dangerboyandpixie permalink*
      October 10, 2011 3:34 pm

      Especially the Pheebs, I’ll wager.

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