Campbell or Camp to all who know him, is one of five councillors at city hall. He is also the owner of ‘Coast Books’, “one of the few surviving independent books stores in the world”, as Camp puts it, right here on the Gibsons harbour front.
“How was your holiday,” Camp asked me yesterday as soon as I sat down at our usual table on the glassed in and heated patio, overlooking the calm waters of the harbour with Keats Island about a nautical mile off shore. No view of the mountains on this grey day.
“We loved the summery weather and the beach.”
“Well, you didn’t miss anything. Here it just rained. Then it poured and the rest of the time it was just gray, wet and cold. Like if you can’t see the mountains, it’s raining and if you can see them, it’s going to rain soon.”
“I checked the weather daily and I have to tell you I felt sorry for you all, not sorry like if you had an accident, more like sorry if you missed your train. And how is council business or should I ask ?”
“They’re still dithering with the marina expansion and the development around the harbour front. Anywhere else in the world they would just build it and then bitch about not enough consultation and public input; here they bitch right from the start, about too much or the wrong kind of consultation and the public input always comes from people who are personally impacted, like loosing views, increased traffic, taxes, noise etc. It’s never about the good of the town, the local economy and the common disinterest, although that is undoubtedly what everybody proclaims it to be.”
“I’m glad you had a good time too,” I said, taking a swallow of my beer.
“Here it is Camp,” I said, “Clare, my alter ego and partner in all things, and I examined our busy, stressed out lives and concluded that it would be beneficial for our health and welfare if one of us would just quit the rat race, and take care of the home front. In other words: Shopping, cleaning, yard work, laundry, paperwork and cooking.”
“I can see where this is leading, which is a call for another pint I believe,” Camp said, holding up two fingers for the waitress to see.
“We decided that I should be the Stay-at-Home-Guy. Since Clare has the passionate career and my job in the film industry is more like being a carney: setting up rides (sets) and then tearing them down. They call us Mexicans in sweaters. Pushers, movers, pullers, lifters and runners. Paid, hired and fired by the hour. It’s much easier for me to quit. We should be alright, that is if we buy our wine for under twenty bucks and eat at home.”
“Makes sense to me,” Camp said, “all you have to do is not answer the phone when it looks like work, it’s not like you have to quit a career and officially hand in your retirement request.”
“That’s exactly what Clare said.”
Up to now my idea of staying at home had meant sleeping in, goofing off, watching late night flicks and day time soccer games, the occasional lunch at the pub which would sometimes extend into a game of pool and beyond. I also had to get over the stigma of the out-of-work syndrome. No, I was not unemployed; I was now retired. As a film technician I’m used to have weeks or months between jobs but this was different. It meant that I would turn down jobs and do I need to spell it out: no income ! In exchange I would get to be the boss or is it the slave of my own time.
“We all know that a happy wife is a happy life,” Camp stated, staring morosely into his empty glass. He’s been recently divorced and doesn’t like to talk about relationships. “So what do you say if somebody asks you what you do with all your free time?”
“I’ve already thought about this,” I said, I have my standard answers for inquiries into my work status. First of all I’m always busy. ‘The days are just packed’, will be my standard answer and ‘work is overrated.’ To the serious questioner I’ll explain our life style choice with the simple facts.”
“How dare you have fun while the rest of us grind out a living.” Campbell said. “Congratulations.”
Here is my stay-at-home-motto: Plan nothing long term, deal with immediate concerns, make sure the bathrooms are clean, don’t mix the whites with the colors in the wash, make priority lists and try not to fall off the couch during the afternoon nap.
A large part of my routine is shopping and cooking. It turns out that I enjoy both. “I get to meet all the house wives at the store and I’ve received lots of helpful tips from old pros at the game. Not just about groceries or food but also some interesting stock and investment tips.”
“Here is my tip,” Camp said, pointing an accusing finger at me. “Don’t ever – and I mean never – act on a stock tip you receive in the lineup at the grocery store!”
That was yesterday, Thirsty Thursday, which makes today Friday. Since my existential status has changed I now have to watch which day of the week it is. I love being retired.