Saturday, March 5, 2016

Tilla says provolone works just the same—um, I sure hope so



Friday, 11:45 am.  I’m at the little market up the street from my apartment, in line at the deli counter.  While Bob slices the meats & cheeses, an eldely woman named Tilla calls out “next!” and takes care of the various potato & pasta salad orders. 

Who’s next?  Ohh, hi Buster… hey I just work here, I don’t do any of the hiring.  Come back in an hour when the owner gets back from lunch.  Heh heh! 

(Tilla & I aren’t exactly on a first-name basis, but I’ve been a customer here for a long time and she’s an ornery character who enjoys teasing me for not having a job.  When I began showing up in the middle of the day a year ago, she asked why I wasn’t coming in after work anymore.  When I told her I was giving early retirement a try, she raised her eyebrows but didn’t say anything.  Ever since, when she sees me she likes to have a little fun.  Whatever!)

Haha, thanks Tilla… okay let’s see… can I have a 1/2 pound of the mozzarella?

Bob, you get that?  Huh?  Whups, he says he’s fresh out of the mozzarella.  You want another cheese?  How about some of this pasta salad, we just made it.

No thanks, I’ll try again next time.  Nice seeing you Tilla!

I pick up a jar of Prego sauce, a carton of breadcrumbs & some bread.  As I head to the checkout, Tilla yells “whaddya need that cheese for??”  I yell back “chicken parmesan!”  She tells me to come back over.

We can fix you up, we’ll slice you some provolone. 

That’s okay, I’ll just make a trip to Kuhn’s Market.

You don’t need to do that!  Provolone works just the same, melts just the same.  The only difference is provolone slices are round & mozza is square, can you handle that?

Haha!  Are you sure?  I’m not exactly a great cook y’know… you better just give me 6-7 slices.

You can trust me.  Hey you want a slice of birthday cake?  Don’t worry Mr. Moneybags, it’s free it won’t empty your pocketbook--today’s my birthday, I just hit the big 7-0!

Aw, happy birthday!   Hmm, I guess I can handle a slice…

Here y’go, here’s a fork.  So tell me, are you really early-retired?  Aren’t you still in your forties?

Haha I wish--I’m 54, but thanks.  As for the early retirement… to be honest, I don’t know.  I have all my money tied up in the stock market, but I lost about 10% in 2015 and then another 15% right at the New Year.  If it drops anymore… I don’t want to think about it.

Huh.  We have something in common, you know.  I retired at the same age as you.

Really?  How come you’re working here?  Just to keep busy?

Oh yeah--sure!  You know the Verizon building over on South Balph?

Sure, I live about 10 houses down from it.


Oh, do ya—well, I worked there 30 years, when it was Bell Telephone.  In 2000 I figured I had enough invested and did just what you did.  Told them I had enough of the business and I left.

So what happened?

We had that big crash.  Do you remember that?  The big crash in the stock market in 2000?

I didn’t own much stock then, but I remember… that lasted about 3 years.

Yep!  And I lost everything in about 3 years too.

Tilla, how?  What do you mean?   Even if the value of your stocks dropped, you still owned the shares.  It took long enough but they climbed back up.

I had one of those guys.. a stockbroker?  He managed all that for me—he’d tell me he was selling this, buying that, he was always sending me stuff in the mail to look over.. I figure he was trying his best.  

You know that’s how they make their money--every time they sell this or buy that with your portfolio…

Well he told me 3 years in, ‘Tilla it’s all gone.’  So I got another job, then another…. and then I wound up here.  The owner says I can retire when I’m 85, I told him not to get my hopes up.  Heh!

God!  I sure am sorry you lost everything.  That is so not right! 

Tell me about it.  I’m just warning you, you could be back on the job like me when you’re 60.  Do you have a good financial manager?

Tilla, I don’t have one. 

Then how do you expect to make any money?? 

Just letting things ride and keeping my fingers crossed I guess… thanks for the cake, and the heads up about the provolone.  Hope you have a nice birthday…

You’re welcome, but dont come back lookin’ for more free handouts!  Heh heh! 


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