The most jarring aspect of turning 65? Surveys.

Now officially a senior citizen, my age has entombed me in the nebulous 65 and over category polling agencies disdain. That means my opinions will be diminished, if not altogether discounted then dismissed.

At 65, it’s been arbitrarily determined my input has less to no importance. It will be weighted lighter, if not disregarded.

The views of know-nothing 18-year-olds today carry greater heft than mine. I’m someone who knows more than just something. I know plenty. These views should be prized. After all, they derive not only from years lived but also experiences amassed.

Like most people who’ve been diminished by ascendent generations, I’ve synthesized experience and knowledge into judgment.

Those who compile and tabulate surveys believe gold emerges through the views of respondents who’ll most likely navigate a search engine before he or she can answer. What a mistake! That’s not gold. That’s pyrite. Having knowledge on hand, I don’t have to scroll first.


Relocating to Las Vegas, Nevada, has benefited me financially. I’m only here through circumstances beyond my control.

In 2010 when I was riding high back in Metropolitan New York, anyone suggesting that by 2024 I’d already have lived in the Mojave for over a decade would’ve had me suggesting he or she seek help. And then after explaining to me why my bedroom window vista now opens upon Frenchmen’s Peak, it would be enough to get me speed-dialing the rubber room/butterfly net gang so they’d hurry over and collect a real loon.

Here it is 2024. Reflecting soberly, none of the explanatory spiel would’ve been crazy after all.

My former profession filled a lot of niches. There’s no neat description for what we provided. Let’s just say we produced weird stuff and leave it at that.

Without a doubt the market for such services we provided was extensive. Copious good word of mouth meant that place never needed to advertise. Trade walked through the door without coaxing.

If there was any added allure, it helped the boss was a retired army colonel. With the percentage of Americans who’ve served our nation becoming miniscule, that the man in charge had risen so high during a military career shouted competence. A tall, broad through the chest man projecting an attitude verging on cocksure, he would’ve broadcast confidence himself. Thus, you bet the boss becomes “The Colonel.”

Moreover, many of the assignments fascinated. As did many of the people who engaged us. Other than Henry Kissinger, none were bold-faced names. Celebrities, perhaps, though none of the extra-stellar ones. But their position in the firmament awarded them attraction. What they did, who they were, made them substantial figures. Substantial, not necessarily prominent.

They made pilgrimages to see us. Except for Kissinger. A delegation visited him.

And what these grandees asked of that firm let us insist they pay through the nose. Overpaying and taking satisfaction from it. A status thing, right?

It’s hardly an exaggeration stating the Colonel could throw wild numbers on the wall and clients’ heads nodded in agreement. Nor is it an exaggeration claiming the business capable of earning as long as everybody kept breathing. Okay. Didn’t even need pulses. Just keep the bodies warm.

If there’s a concept behind making bags of money involuntarily, the old firm practiced it. How could something so amoeba simple go awry? Easy. It’s called the Curse of the Third Generation. Those readers of a certain ages already know the general outline of what follows.

The Curse begins benignly. An enterprise starts two or even three generations before. The founders can be rough-hewn or show ahead of their time initiative. The successive generation gains advanced knowledge, worldliness, refinement, as well as expands nets of acquaintances. Techniques improve. Connections don’t just grow but become more intricate.

The second phase inevitably lifts living standards. This increases volume and worth of material possessions. It’s all the third generation will know, views from the aerie. Rather than send any progeny into the salt mines where they’ll learn from whence their cushy lives derive, the sires instead feel strange obligations to lavish trappings and symbols of luxury.

For the Colonel’s parasite children, it was beyond suburban splendor. Split-level ranch with an inground pool. Country club privileges. Dressage for the girls. The boys learned how to sail in the “greatest domesticated body of water in the world,” Long Island Sound. All drove carelessly on the parkways and wrecked unfair shares of vehicles behind the wheels. They knew smashed steel and aluminum were temporary inconveniences new purchases would soon remedy. Glossy magazine destinations increasingly formed vacation choices. Eating in exquisite restaurants where the fine cuisine set before them rarely registered on palates; the sole goal being able to brag about having dined in the establishments – the crasser the better.

One easily imagined this family the sort who hurled dinner rolls across tables. Even as middle-aged adults.

Hard to believe any in this bunch were contemporaries of mine.

Family business as he proclaimed it, none of the Colonel’s children involved themselves in his firm. That was until the end. When it was absolutely too late. Otherwise, they wasted much of their lives idling. Despite the advantages bestowed them, none advanced beyond marginal existences. Without a strong mind at the helm, the Colonel’s enterprise was destined to wither.

The manager at that time recognized what ought have been her opportunity. Then in hi slate 70s, the Colonel was losing a step upstairs. No successors from his family line presented themselves. She did the right thing by pressing for a percentage of the business. After all, under her whip the ledgers were blacker with fat numbers than they’d ever been. Astute as hell, she was a tyrant who made employees and owners a lot of money. Dislike her personally, no one begrudged the weekly piles o’cash each of us realized.

While nobody is indispensable, she’s the only person I’ve ever met who’s come pretty damned close. Under her lash that place spun like a top.

The manager saw the future clearly. A family business? Eh. A capable family member who could be entrusted with maintaining the firm’s success? Nope.

She and the Colonel had a morning sitdown. The manager let her ambition lead. After presenting several dismal options, none of which assured his company’s viability, she gave him an ultimatum. She either got a chunk of the business – um, about 40% — or she was out the door. Old school as he was, the idea of a woman challenging him must’ve been enraging.

Her “impertinence” must’ve assaulted his manhood.

He must’ve believed she bluffed. The poor sap called her on it. She left that same afternoon, taking energy and brains with her.

That place last saw her back in October 2006. By late 2007 our once always sterling results started tarnishing.

Forget having a new Plan A in his back pocket. The boss didn’t even have a backup plan anywhere. Those in the industry who’d previously worked under him managerially had gone off and established their own firms. Any of them would be likelier to tender offers to buy his shingle than work for or partner with him. Since foot soldiers like me had been excluded from company’s sensitive areas, and given the Colonel lacked energy to cram tutor us, he resorted to the worst of all choices.

Of his five children, three still survived. The Colonel enlisted that motley trio to take control. To grab the reins. His remaining son showed no enthusiasm whatsoever. He’d become a carpenter who preferred casting fishing lines off his boat in the Sound. The second son, as well as third daughter, had been alcoholic drug addicts who’d succumbed to their monkeys.

That left a pair of daughters, both nitwits who together couldn’t have formed a halfwit. Their father had given them “ghost” jobs. As in pull a few hours in the office so it would “legitimize” their salaries and benefits.
I knew more than both women. Plenty more. And let me admit I wasn’t qualified to guide the place.

The older of the two sisters asked me early on whether I had confidence in the pair’s abilities to maintain the company’s standards. Rather than fake optimism, I told her the truth.


My bluntness failed stirring either sister. It ought have angered and emboldened both. It was just the slap that should’ve summoned supreme efforts. Of course, all to prove me wrong more than keep the family firm solidly in the black.

Instead, both women continued their errant ways. Religiously deserting the office early to attend daily happy hours. Arriving late to their desks invariably hung over. Calls stopped being returned promptly. The quality of our labors continued their gradual slippage. Business plummeted over time.

Though staffers sensed impending disaster, even asking for information or alerts, none came. Rather, an ugly scene brutally informed us.

On a Friday in mid-October 2011, we left work believing our employer solvent. Returning on Monday, we were greeted by a line at the door. The property manager, representatives from the power and phone companies, and all kinds of suppliers snaked to the door. Each demanded payment. Our company was in deep arears to all. Without payment the building’s locks would be changed. Power and phone service would be shut off. Suppliers’ legal processes would start dropping like snowflakes in a blizzard.

And of course, the company bank accounts were empty. Apparently, they had been catching dust for a while.

There was no need to give the above matters any thought. I went to my desk, packed what was mine, headed into the Colonel’s office. My employment there lasted 24 years. The least I owed him was a goodbye.

He was seated behind his desk as calmly as anyone neck-high in deep shit could’ve been. Whatever he said about “the situation” went in one ear and out the other. He then offered to write me a letter of recommendation. You know, to help my future prospects. Instead of laughing in his face, I might’ve sighed. What prospective employer would take seriously such a missive by someone who’d crapped out his own business?

Neither of us wished the other luck.

On the way out I collected paperwork necessary to file for unemployment. For the only moment during their disastrous tenure, both women were brisk. Which was good because I was brusque. Even more so once I learned they’d burned through whatever severance we could’ve expected. After over two decades I’d walk out carrying the same empty bag I brought with me in 1987. Oh. The sisters had also let the staff’s medical insurance lapse. For three months we’d all been one hospital visit away from potential bankruptcy.

My suddenly former co-workers had congregated in the break room. Agitation vied with loudness. Married men with dependents and mortgages, they shared the same fears. None had any contingency for this. Who would’ve?

Unencumbered by minor children or house payments, I had nothing to offer. While we’d all lost our jobs, they verged on potentially losing much more. Me? I’d only lost money. Money and any chance of finding a local gig comparable to what I’d lost.

The few interviews I scheduled all skidded off the same road. A known commodity as I was, every interviewer skipped the foreplay. Each asked what I had to do with the defunct firm’s demise. They asked knowing full well my distance from the decisions, indecisions, the daughters had made through their Weegee board.

Recognizing the obvious, no new real employment awaited me in New York. Furthermore, being in my early 50s at the time, I knew I would not be able to climb anymore mountains there. What I needed was a nice soft spot to land until Medicare started.

Mother obliged me to linger in New York. I was her last Mohican. Her passing in January 2013 unmoored me. By August I resided in Las Vegas.

Tucson was my original Plan A retirement site. If the Colonel hadn’t preferred 100% of nothing to his ejected manager’s offer of a merciful percentage of continued profits and high industry esteem, I’d now be packing up for Southern Arizona instead of writing this from Las Vegas. And yes, I still could’ve landed in the Desert Margaritaville. However, 10-plus years of toiling down there until qualifying for Medicare would’ve tasked me.

My Las Vegas life has developed from purely fiscal considerations. Earnings and expenses have been far more favorable in the Big Mayberry than the Old Pueblo. Maybe if the severance both daughters hadn’t squandered had gone to the deserving, I likely have chanced Tucson. Much as I prefer Tucson, the associations and connections I’ve obtained, retained, and maintained there, the environment and atmosphere, so the Sonora Desert in total, reaching 65 itself needed to be a coldblooded calculation.

It came down Las Vegas dollars and cents, yes, real estate, too, providing a wholly advantageous economic cushion.

Besides, as some people who live in Southern Arizona will tell anyone who wonders, “There’s no money in Tucson.” True. Unless you bring it along.