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Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: It’s Tuesday, right?

I think I’ve finally figured out why so many people in Spokane often seem confused.

They don’t know what day of the week it is. And what’s more, many of them don’t really care.

OK, we’ve all encountered individuals who are momentarily unsure about whether it is Wednesday or Thursday. Sometimes this occurs on weeks with a Monday holiday or some other quirk of the calendar that throws us off our normal schedule.

But there also are those who seem to exist in a perpetual state of uncertainty about what day it is.

These people are known as retirees. Spokane has a lot of them.

I’ve recently gained some personal insight about this, after stepping away from a deadline-oriented career that had as a basic requirement knowing what day it is.

So all right, I don’t want to make too much of this. Many of us know retirees who are every bit as tightly wound as when they were in mid-career form, slugging it out against competitors and in-house rivals.

But I’m here to tell you, something happens when you don’t have to wake up at a certain time, have a work project completed by a specific date, adhere to a strict routine, et cetera.

You chill.

Occasionally losing track of the days of the week is just one symptom.

Oh sure, there are still plenty of markers that signal what day it is – football games, church services, medical appointments, grandkid wrangling, bills-paying.

As you no doubt know, being retired isn’t a one-way trip to Margaritaville.

But there is an inherent freedom about setting your own schedule that liberates one from the need to worry too much about whether this is Tuesday or Wednesday.

After they moved to Spokane, my elderly parents used to turn not knowing what day it was into a form of recreation. They seemed to celebrate it.

It was as if they marveled at the very idea of not knowing the day of the week.

I guess, after decades of being on top of work schedules, social commitments and their children’s calendars, it blew their minds to not be plugged into the days of the week.

“It’s Saturday,” I would say with a theatrical weariness, the memory of which makes me wince a little.

Many retirees, I’m quite certain, eventually establish new routines, new schedules. Once again, certain things happen on specific days of the week.

But I suppose there is another possibility. A person could confront the fact he or she is unsure about what day it is and come up with a ruling: Who cares?

Of course, there is an easy enough solution. The day of the week is printed at the top of every page of the newspaper.

Sometimes it’s helpful to review the basics.

Sort of like when the iconic counterculture figure Wavy Gravy was manning the Freakout Tent at Woodstock in 1969. He would start to coax festival-goers out of a drug induced haze by starting with simple stuff.

“Bob! Your name is Bob, man.”

He might have added, “It’s Tuesday, man!”

Just a thought.

Other times, it’s just nice to go for a bike ride blissfully unaware of what day it is.

Speaking of my parents

Back when they lived in Vermont, they would always call us in Spokane to report their Eastern time Halloween trick-or-treat head count. It was always an impressive figure.

One year, when we lived in Browne’s Addition, I was on the phone with my dad as my wife could be heard in the background trying to maintain law and order.

“No!” she could be heard exclaiming. “No fighting!”

Eventually my father had to ask. Were we encountering some unruly trick-or-treaters?

“Oh no,” I explained. “That’s just Carol dealing with some raccoons on our balcony.”

You see, we put treats (cat food, grapes, etc.) out for them on a daily basis. And on that Halloween, sharing wasn’t a peaceful process.

Speaking of retirement

Last Tuesday, I wondered about the need to shave every day.

Several readers of a certain age offered their perspectives. Among them was Steve Wilder.

“I have opted for the every third or fourth day method, or when it’s needed in case I will be in a public setting where I don’t want to look like a hobo.”

Erv Koller, another retiree, cautioned against becoming the old man with hairy ears.

“My wife trims mine,” he wrote.

Something to think about.

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