Kuhreihen
2. Joe

A couple of years ago Joe lost a job he’d had for over a decade.

He didn’t let it ruin his supper. Sometimes when you asked him about investing a third of his life in a company that traded him in for a newer model he’d get a little melancholy.

“I gave them fifteen years.”

He wouldn’t stay down long.

“But the economy. What are you going to do?”

If you’re Joe you’re not going to waste time thinking about a huge company that doesn’t need you anymore and can’t be held accountable for throwing away good people.

It’s just plain silly. Dry your tears and pick up some odd jobs. When you’re stuck at home finish those projects your wife has been nagging you about for years. Send out rèsumès. Make a few cold calls. Never wait around for someone else to save the day.

“Anything come today Joe?”

“Nothing yet.”

“Well. Things will work out. We won’t be out on the street.”

He did finally find something. It was no dream job, but it was work.

“Hardly half as much as I was making before.”

“It’s something babe. It’s a tough time. We’re really lucky you know?”

“I know sweetie.”

“Really lucky Joe.”

Comparison is a bitch.

To keep his head clear Joe kept watering the lawn and fixing the shelves and unclogging the drains and reading the paper. He and the wife had sex once a week and dinner out twice a month. Sometimes in places that required reservations. If the budget permit. Their life, he knew she was right, was good.

“Right?”

Joe’s going to be 47 this year. He and his wife never had kids. They tried once and when things didn’t work out neither one of them spent too much time beating themselves up about it. They were comfortable and they loved each other. A sincere love. It wasn’t edge of your seat love anymore, but they were happy. Happy enough.

“I talked to your mother today Joe.”

“Yeah?”

“She’s glad you found something.”

“She’s always a mother.”

“She just wants what’s best for us Joe.”

“I know baby.”

Happy enough is another way of saying that Joe was just unhappy enough to fall into this story.

He was just the kind of masculine restless that comes from passing middle age and somehow avoiding a catastrophic mid-life crisis. He just had a little one and his wife had helped him avoid a system failure. She gave him the kind of steady love and encouragement that helps a man to find the things he loves outside of work.

“You don’t have to be defined by your job.”

“Was I ever?”

“You’re a hard worker. That’s something I always loved about you.”

“And now?”

“You’re not any less of a hard working man.”

“Thinking of trading in the Town Car.”

“The Lincoln?”

“Thinking about it. Is that a bad idea right now?”

“Doesn’t have to be.”

He knew a new car wouldn’t change the facts, but cars had raised his spirits before. This happened weeks ago. They didn’t have the money really, but he still wanted a new car. It didn’t have to be assembly line new. Just new to him. Something other than his ho-hum sedan.

“I don’t look silly on it do I?”

He ended up keeping the Lincoln and buying a broken down bike, an old Triumph. It spend as much time running as being tinkered with in the garage.

“Of course not babe. How can a motorbike make you look silly?”

“I just don’t want to look like a guy having a mid-life crisis.”

“So what if you are? I don’ think there’s anything wrong with having a bike at your age. Enjoy it.”

The Triumph was a lot more fun than his Lincoln, when it was running, but it wasn’t the kind of fun he remembered from his youth.

Those first few beat up cars he owned were like being thrown down the Grand Canyon on roller skates. Fast and rough and not all that safe. But the bike was good enough. He was happy enough with it. He kept the faith.

“Thanks darling.”

“Just be careful on it.”

Faith is a tricky mother. It’s sometimes the thing that points and laughs at what a gullible schmuck you are. Joe had it anyway and good sense too. If he allowed himself a motorcycle he told himself he’d stop eating so much red meat, would drink less coffee, and get more exercise. Because what’s faith really but your bargaining strategy with God?

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