These days I wear a handsome gold wristwatch from my employer, Manhattan Community College, CUNY. I can’t tell time on it, but I love it nonetheless and I don it first thing after my shower every morning. It is my trophy! I’ve been teaching English at the college for forty-five years. That I shower daily is ample proof of my modernity; I grew up in a one-bath-a –week, heat-your-own-water Brooklyn flat.
This luxurious watch, designed as a gift for an academician, obviously HAD to have Roman numerals! Ancients are happiest with the script of their childhood. Unfortunately, I can’t read those tiny lines etched in gold. I am legally blind.
Nevertheless, I am still a dependable member of the work force. There are so many of us survivors who are still working that a term has been coined to describe us: OLD OLDS. I ‘m fond of it; in the 1930’s my well-off Uncle Harry had a precious car he called his OLD OLDS.
The fact that I still work, that I like work and want to work troubles people, particularly my contemporaries. Why don’t you sit back and smell the flowers?” the coy ones wonder. You need a hobby, the bossy ones advise. Surely your pension can’t be so small, the estimators guess.
“I like work,” I say. “I like grammar and books and almost all the stuff that’s part of teaching English. And I have learned that is enough reason to brave the subways and the city.” No need to further try to share the esoteric pleasures of a busy day in school dealing with both serious matters and academic nonsense.