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A New York Yankee and His Free Time

A New York Yankee and His Free Time

I grew up rooting for the NY Yankees. Consequently, I hated the Boston Red Sox. I always thought that Boston should have been named the Yankees because we considered people from New England Yankees. I grew up with what was considered “Yankee” principles or traits. Things like: keep to yourself, do things yourself, be independent, be self reliant, be straightforward, be frugal, be humble, and do it all with integrity. These were the traits that were pushed as admirable in my family. While some may question how I've fared with that last part, I pretty much have adopted these ideals. I've always been very self-contained. I like being by myself. Being by myself energizes me whereas being with others drains me. I am also empathetic. I don't know if those two are particularly “Yankee” but if you put that with the other traits I think that goes a long way towards explaining who I am. Of course putting those two together makes an odd combination. While I can easily share another person's feelings, demonstratively showing it is not in my nature. Another “Yankee” trait which I left out is hard work and the idea that it's good for you. I have often questioned this. I get the work hard part, but the hard work was somehow good for you part I have never been too sure of. I always enjoyed not doing nothing and have found that to be good for me, at least in my own mind.
During my work career I was always looked on as a consistently hard worker. I was always told that I was a hard worker, frequently the hardest worker in the place. However, I liked to totally relax once I got home. Am I a hard worker outside the workplace? Well, once I get started yes, but it's not always easy getting me started. Let's just say that getting me started can at times require more effort than one might care to exert.

I frustrated my Father with my at home work methods. I would often choose a method to accomplish tasks that was apparently not “Yankee approved”. I worked hard while performing the task but my work plan was not always appreciated. One thing I would often do is put off my chores until the last minute. For instance if there was something I was required to do on Saturday and it had to be done by say lunch, I might fiddle around in my room until just before lunch and do the task then. My father could not understand why I just didn't do the task first thing so I could be free for the rest of the day. One answer I gave him was; “Suppose there's an emergency and we have to go immediately. If I did the morning task and this happened during my free time I would lose my free time but if I had my free time first then I'd only be losing the task time and I prefer to lose my task time.” Of course this really had not factored in to my modus operandi but it sounded like a logical explanation to me. It didn't go over so well with Dad. Looking back I sometimes wondered how he put up with me.

Another thing I would sometimes do was break the task into parts. Take, for instance, mowing the lawn. I would cut the back lawn first because it was the more difficult due to its size and a hill. I would then take a break and lay in the hammock while I had something to drink. Then I would finish up mowing the front yard. My Dad's favorite saying was “be the labor great or small; do it well or not at all”. He never actually offered me the latter option. He just could not understand why I didn't do the whole yard at one time. He would say just do it all at once and relax after. I don't know, but there is something enjoyable about taking a little time to relax at a time when you are supposed to be working that is different. It's like the weekend is mostly special because you have to work or go to school on the other days. Of course when I had a real job I was always one to work until the task was completed or the day was over. So I guess I adopted Dad's way after all, just not when he was around. Well there was also the fact that you could get fired in a real job. Of course I couldn't get fired from my chores. If I could, I would have figure out how to do it.   

I was always protective of what I called my free time. Free time was very important to me from a very early age. Free time was time where I had nothing scheduled. Time where I could choose to do whatever I wanted to do at that time. I remember telling my Dad that I didn't want to do some task the Friday after Thanksgiving but rather wanted to do it on Saturday, I wanted the day off. He replied “you just had a day off yesterday, Thanksgiving”. I said that's not a true day off. I may not have had to go to school or work but it was a pre-planned day and it wasn't even planned by me. He then said I thought you liked Thanksgiving dinner with the whole family. My response was that's beside the point, it was still not a free day. It was a day that was determined for me. The Friday after Thanksgiving is a true day off and it can be a free time day by pushing the chores off to Saturday when I usually do them anyway. I think he was beginning to think I was an alien...

This trait or whatever it is has stayed with me. I have never wanted much of anything planned. Before Kris I did not do many vacations. I would take a few days off here and there when something came up that I wanted to do. I would generally just go visited friends or go backpacking but regardless I did little planning, just made a phone call, packed up and went.

When Kris and I got together I tried explaining to her that when I buy a ticket to something, like a show, a sporting event, or whatever, I looked at it as an option. When the day or the evening of the event comes I have the option to attend but I also retained the option to not attend and do something else. I want to feel free to do whatever appeals to me at that moment and I don't want buying a ticket to be something that robs me of or reduces that freedom. Buying the ticket should increase my choices not decrease them. Once I bought the ticket the money is gone. If the day comes and I find I'd rather do something else why would I let that ticket keep me from doing it. That's kind of a lose-lose. I spent the money and now I'm spending time I'd rather spend elsewhere. No, keep the money, I'll keep the free time!

As you might suspect this required a bit of a negotiation once I married Kris. I married a woman who enjoys planning. I like to plan as little as possible. The problem here of course is obvious. When we went on our honeymoon, we went to Austria for skiing, I convinced Kris that we could make reservations for the first week and leave the second week open, and to do that second week my way. On the third day of our honeymoon I realized that she could not relax with that second week left open (not so good for a honeymoon). So, we went to a local travel agent and booked lodging for week two. Well, we've been together for over 30 years. Needless to say, I have learned to live with time being planned and Kris has learned to leave me a good amount of free time (as well as ignore my not so positive comments when informing me of what's in store for the coming week.) I sometimes wonder how she puts up with me...


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