I am currently going through one of those inevitable life cycle changes, and it is quite fascinating in some respects. I've gone from a coach/teacher/discipline administrator and overall servant of the people to a domestic servant of extraordinary talents.
For 36 years my job description included stuff like coach the football team, get hollered at by irate fans who wanted me to call for pass plays instead of running plays, teach both the motivated and unmotivated students of the world, putting little Johnny in ISS for behaving inappropriately at school, having conferences with annoyed parents who didn't believe little Johnny deserved to be boxed up in ISS and touring the high school halls in search of miscreants intent on skipping class. Those activities usually made for an interesting day at the office; never a dull moment.
Since my retirement last May things have changed dramatically, and I have had to hone my skill set to match some new challenges.
Now I must face daily tasks that include things like washing dishes, vacuuming the house, washing clothes, shopping for food (as well as other household necessities), making up beds and cleaning nasty bathrooms. I'm pretty sure you get the idea.
I have an excellent coach (in fact I think she's going to be in the Hall of Fame) to help me through the trials and tribulations of learning this new career and I'm fast becoming proficient in many of these new skills, although I've not graded out above 60 percent yet according to my instructor. She's tougher grading my performance than I was on grading offensive linemen back in the day, and I now have a better idea of the frustrations those lineman must have had when they tried real hard and Coach Richardson assigned them a “D” for their blocking performances.
One of things I've learned so far is that there is a proper and an improper way of putting the dishes in the dishwasher and that some dishes should be washed by hand in a particular way. Attention to detail in this area is of utmost importance, and I'm showing marked improvement in this portion of my training.
I'm also learning that in order to vacuum a house properly there are eight different gadgets that should be used at various stages of the process and that a thorough cleaning should take no less than four hours if it is done properly. These are things I did not know and my grades are now on a steady incline.
The washing of clothes is another area of expertise in which I was sorely lacking. I now know that there are correct and incorrect ways to use the washer and dryer in order for clothes to be deemed suitable to wear. One must use the correct type and amount of powder, and the settings on the machines should be in their proper place depending on the type of garments that are to be cleansed. There is also a little thing called a lint catcher that I never even knew existed until recently. That small unit is crucial and must be cleaned out religiously or the entire drying cycle must be repeated. I now know that lint is my enemy. Although I'm showing improvement in this area I am not yet allowed to wash and dry my mentor's clothes. I can only do my own until the grade rises above 90 percent.
I've also become fairly proficient at shopping at Walmart and Ingles. The fact is I've been in those two fine establishments more times since May than I had been in the previous 25 years combined. I'm learning that there are certain brands that should be purchased and some that should be avoided, that shopping for the best deal is vital, how to tell a good banana from an inferior one, and that it is of utmost importance to look at the expiration date on each item that is placed in my cart.
I'm becoming highly efficient at cleaning up the bathrooms. Once I overcame my penchant for gagging at the thought of scrubbing the funky commode everything was better. I won't go into further details on this one.
Sadly I must report that my progression in cooking and dusting is lagging far behind the rest of my new skills. My cooking is confined to the microwave, the toaster oven and the grill and my dusting grade is what might be referred to as the low man on the totem pole. I can't seem to get the hang of dusting mainly because I can't see the dust and have not yet learned where dust likes to hide.
All in all I can report that domestic servant hood is quite different from being a servant of the people but it can be very rewarding though very tiring. In all honesty I believe there should be courses in college that cover the details of how to perform these tasks, and even though I have a good coach it would have been nice to have had a little heads-up on some of these things.
I'm going to have to run now — the buzzer just went off on the dryer and I've got to go clean out the lint catcher. I'm bucking for an “A” in clothes cleaning this week and attention to detail is the key.
Columnist Alvin Richardson can be reached at email@example.com.