Saturday, February 16, 2019

"Moving Company Declares Chapter 60"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
The best thing about being a baby boomer, aside from believing that 60 is the new 40, which explains why I can’t balance my checkbook, is that you can still do everything you have always done, but if there is something you don’t want to do anymore, you can pull the age card.

Lugging furniture falls into this category. If you are the lugger, you will fall, too, wrenching your back in the process.

That is why the Zezima Moving, Storage and Hernia Co. is going out of business. I will say for legal purposes that the corporation is liquidating. The liquid, I hasten to add, is beer, which is what I have needed after each of the many moves I have made for family and friends over a painful period dating back to the Carter administration.

The last one occurred recently when I was assigned to remove a couch from my mother-in-law’s house in Stamford, Connecticut, load it into a rented truck and drive it to Long Island, New York, where it had to be unloaded and replaced by another couch that then had to be driven to the landfill, where I also would have ended up if I could afford the dumping fee.

There were three main problems:

(a) My mother-in-law’s couch weighed approximately as much as the truck.

(b) The house was evidently built around it.

(c) It was raining so hard that I should have rented an ark.

This required brains and brawn. Since I am sorely lacking in both, and have the soreness to prove it, I enlisted the help of my nephew Blair, who has a prodigious quantity of each, plus something I haven’t had in the 40 years since I was his age:

(d) Youth.

As the rain rained down, I had a brainstorm: I covered the couch with a drop cloth to protect it from the downpour. Unfortunately, the cloth was not waterproof. It was like putting a napkin on your head before walking under Niagara Falls.

To compound matters, the couch was leather. I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t leather kinky? Answer: Yes, which is why I got a massive kink in my back.

Leather is also slippery, which makes it hard to grasp, so I had to bend down and lift one end. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning coursed down my spine and stopped directly above my end.

Then Blair and I had to tilt the couch this way and that to get it through the narrow doorway and were instantly drenched by the monsoon outside.

With the aid of my wife, Sue, and our younger daughter, Lauren, we got the couch down a walkway, over a wall and into the truck. I drove back in the pathetic vehicle, whose original owners must have been the Flintstones, and headed to Lauren’s house.

There, my son-in-law Guillaume and I risked further back trouble (he already had sciatica) by carrying the couch up a flight of stairs. We looked like Laurel and Hardy doing the same thing with a piano in “The Music Box,” for which they won an Oscar.

Guillaume and I deserved a Harry because we were harried by our wives to get the couch into the house, from which we had to remove another couch, which thank God was lighter, and drive it to the dump.

“I’m too old for this,” I told Sue after we had returned the truck and got into my car for the ride home. “The next time furniture needs to be lugged, someone else can do it.”

Later, I settled my sore back onto our couch, which isn’t going anywhere, and had a beer. It was the best move of the day.

Copyright 2019 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, February 3, 2019

"A Long Bout of Social Insecurity"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
Now that I have turned 65, which makes me old enough to know better but still less mature than my grandchildren, I am contemplating retirement because, according to the Social Security Administration, it doesn’t pay to be working posthumously.

So I went to my local Social Security office to sign up for Medicare and encountered so many people that I figured I’d still be there when I turn 66, at which time I can get full benefits.

“You can die of old age in this place,” I said to a nice couple named Janice and Andrew, who sat next to me in the back row.

“Medicare won’t cover it,” said Janice, who’s 69 and still works as a school secretary.

“And if you’re dead,” added Andrew, 66, who lost his job as a machinist at a company with offices in Connecticut and on Long Island, New York, “you can’t get Social Security anymore.”

“It pays to stay alive,” Janice said.

“If you can call this living,” added Andrew, noting that it was the third time he and and Janice had been in the Social Security office.

“This is my first time,” I told them.

“You always remember your first time,” Janice said with a wink.

I figured my visit would be unforgettable when I arrived at 10 a.m. and walked into what looked like a Cecil B. DeMille epic.

“I’ve been here since 8:41,” said Harry, 50, who sat on my other side. He used crutches because he had leg surgery and was on temporary disability.

“What’s your number?” I asked.

“D606,” he said.

“Mine is A228,” I told him.

“You’ll probably get called before I do,” said Harry. “They won’t take pity on me.”

“You’re just using that as a crutch,” I said.

Harry got up and limped away. He returned about five minutes later.

“Was it something I said?” I wondered.

Harry shook his head and replied, “I had to go to the bathroom.”

In less time than it would take a kindergartner to read “War and Peace,” my number was called.

“Bye, everybody!” I said and walked up to, appropriately, Window 0, behind which was a nice young woman who asked why I was there.

I told her I wanted to apply for Medicare, adding: “I would get COBRA, but I’d be covered only if I was bitten by a poisonous snake.”

“May I have your Social Security number?” the woman asked.

I didn’t want to yell it out in a place containing the approximate population of Luxembourg, so I wrote it on a piece of paper and slipped it under the window.

“You can sit down until you’re called again,” she said pleasantly.

When I returned to my seat, Janice, Andrew and Harry said in unison, “Welcome back, Jerry!”

I scanned the room. Some people were on their phones, others were chatting, one woman was reading a book (not one of mine, unfortunately) and a fellow geezer was snoozing.

Another guy was wearing a sweatshirt with the skull-and-horns logo of the heavy metal band Five Finger Death Punch, which prompted Janice to say, “I’d like to give this place a one finger death punch.”

Actually, it wasn’t that bad. The Social Security folks were courteous and helpful. And the people I sat with, despite their grumbling, were friendly and funny.

“If you don’t laugh,” Janice remarked, “you’ll cry.”

I cried for joy when my name was called. I went to Window 1 and was told by another nice young woman that the earliest appointment was in two months.

“See you then,” Janice said as I left. “We’ll still be here.”

Copyright 2019 by Jerry Zezima