Musings On Turning 65

Big Red Car here walking on egg shells because today The Boss is turning 65 and I’m not sure how the old boy is going to take it. [Probably a micro-aggression calling him the “old boy,” Big Red Car, you dumbass.]

So The Boss has made it to 65 and with his end of the gene pool is likely only at the halfway point of his life. Haha. [Big Red Car trying to make up for the “old boy” comment, no? You suck up, Big Red Car. Shameless.]

How did this happen and what does it mean?

The last conscious thought The Boss can remember as it pertains to age is getting out of the Army at 27 years old at Fort Dix, New Jersey, at 2:00 AM on a Sunday morning. He had resigned his commission in the combat engineers because he thought there would never be another war. Ever. Why be a warrior if there were to be no more wars?

In typical Army fashion, he was scheduled to be discharged at that God forsaken hour because it was a busy discharge point during the Viet Nam War and they had never changed the rules though the war had been over for a few years by then.

The Boss had dropped by to check his files (as requested by the Adjutant General’s office) and asked if he could just sign everything and have them send it to him — “No, sir. You have to be here at 2:00 AM. You might want to be a little early.”

The Boss, having stayed up all night packing his TR-6 with all of his belongings, was discharged in his uniform though that made no sense to him as he was going to become a civilian on the spot, no?

He arrived at 1:30 AM and the place was empty. A Spec Four got him a cup of coffee and he sat there listening to some shitty music and hearing some folks talking somewhere in the back. The room looked to be about ten thousand square feet, was filled with chairs, and had processing points lined up behind counters on two walls. That morning it was only him.

Since he was an officer, he sat in an area designated for officers.

Right at 2:00 AM, his name was called by a Staff Sergeant who had all of his paperwork. The Staff Sergeant did not rise to greet him and did not say anything by way of greeting. He handed the paperwork to The Boss who read nothing and signed his name several times. Then the Staff Sergeant said, “We’ll mail it to you.”

Nobody was there to picket or to thank him for his service and the entire process didn’t take four minutes — five plus years of service reduced to less than five minutes.

He walked out a civilian but he was lugging with him everything he would ever need to know to found, build, and operate a business. He got in and roared away in that TR-6 passing through the Post Gates whereat the Military Police on duty at that time saluted him. The Boss, now a civilian, did not return the MP’s salute.

It had been a pretty good trade. A degree in civil engineering in return for five years service. Some are tempted to say it was a dangerous trade but The Boss was in his early twenties and he liked the danger and the derring do. He also was now eligible for the GI Bill but he had already used part of it to get an MBA. So, it was a damn good trade and he valued the experience.

You see, The Boss had been a company commander of a combat engineer unit as one of his last assignments. He’d had more than 400 soldiers — way over the authorized strength of 186 for a number of bad reasons. At 25 years old, he had his first company. It was an awesome experience and a huge amount of responsibility.

He had an authorized strength of 186 plus gobs of dozers, front end loaders, graders, cranes, trucks, and explosives. He had a basic load of more than two tons of explosives at all times. He had even mastered fishing using C-4.

He had all of the 12B MOS (military occupancy specialty combat engineers) getting out at Fort Dix that year. He had a ton of soldiers awaiting their final appeal at the Court of Military Appeals whose lawyers, JAG officers, were stationed at an office on Fort Dix. It was a circus.

In this particular instance, the circus was his and the monkeys in this circus belonged to him. He could honestly say, “My circus; my monkeys.”

He had learned how to organize, train, discipline, feed, pay, and take care of all of those men even the ones who were convicted felons. Every morning he ran them 5-15 miles as a means of taking the edge off their testosterone and getting them to go to bed early. There is a long story there but that’s for another day.

What is a mystery is what has happened in the interim. Oh, there is a beloved wife (married far above his head) and two almost perfect children. Lots of memories, great houses, and lots of “stuff” none of which means anything really.

Several businesses founded, a few of which entailed trips to the pay window. There are some high rise landmarks and some renovated buildings which folks suspect The Boss talks to and, worse, they talk back.

Then, there are the friendships made. It is a shame that The Boss was born and lived most of his life before the invention of the Internet because it makes it more difficult to stay in touch.

There are his Brother Rats, the most exclusive club The Boss has ever had the privilege of being a member of. He would take the last grad of his class before the top grad of most other schools.

Soon, there will be Medicare, Social Security and staring down the barrel of the next chapters of his life which he has already begun to write. No, The Boss is not going quietly into that dark night, y’all. Not a chance.

The Boss told me he still remembers being 27 and cocksure of things. Life has beaten a bit of it out of him but once upon a day there was a time when he commanded America’s best and nobody will ever be able to take that away from him. Nobody. He was good at it.

So, look out, world, because that Son of a Bitch still thinks he’s 27 and that was a dangerous time and he was a dangerous young man.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Pay your taxes on time because The Boss is counting on y’all for Medicare and Social Security. Is this a great country or what?