Time Flies

A Brief Vacation

By Douglas E Gogerty

Jim was finished with his paper, and he would receive his diploma at the end of the semester. Years of hard work and sacrifice would pay off at that time. Jim was the leading, and perhaps only authority on inter-time viewing. It was a title that made Jim very proud.

On the occasion of Jim's upcoming graduation, Dr. Decker threw Jim a party. It was on this happy occasion that Jim received some unhappy news. At this party, Dr. Decker announced his retirement. "I have pictures to paint and stories to write," Dr. Decker informed the people in attendance. "I sure hope none of this interferes with my watching the Cubs on TV!"

Everybody, including Jim, was at a loss, but Dr. Decker assured Jim that he would recommend that Jim take over for him at the university. That assurance did not ease Jim's fears. Dr. Decker would be missed; most of all by Jim, but almost everyone believed the line of excellence would continue. It would be the inevitable passing of the baton from mentor to student.

Jim naturally applied for the position vacated by Dr. Decker's retirement. With the strong recommendation from Dr. Decker, Jim felt confident about acquiring the empty place in the Physics department. He was very popular at the university and had a most impressive academic record.

Because of fair hiring laws, the university posted the position nationally. Despite the overwhelming array of qualified applicants, Jim felt very self-assured. "Who would be more qualified for the post than me," Jim occasionally thought to himself. "Besides, who would want the job?"

A search committee was formed and interviews were performed. With each step in the hiring process, Jim became more and more confident that the position was his.

The final decision was to be made in late July or early August. Jim wanted to take this opportunity to take a long needed vacation. He did not take any summers off in his college years because he always went to summer school. With some money he had saved up, he decided to do some traveling during that summer. It would be a well-deserved rest.

His final interview was on May 22nd. After the interview, the search committee informed Jim that he was one of the three finalists. With that news, he felt that it would be useless to worry. In fact, Dr. Williamson, who was one of the hiring committee members, told Jim, "Why don't they have you sign a contract now and cut out all this rigmarole?"

Jim nodded modestly and returned to his apartment to make some plans. He was looking forward to seeing some of his old friends, and partaking in some sort of adventurous activities.

It did not take Jim long to decide where he wanted to go. He decided there were two longtime friends who he kept in contact but hadn't seen in several years. He talked to a travel agent, and he would leave for Florida on June 1st. This would give him plenty of time to get his affairs in order.

Before he left, Dr. Williamson asked for an address where Jim could be reached "...just in case something comes up." Jim gave him the information Dr. Williamson wanted, and Jim embarked on his adventure.

Jim's friend Ken Michaels met him at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International airport. Jim wanted to spend a couple of weeks in St. Petersburg and then he was going to visit another friend, Wayne Leonard, in Charleston, South Carolina. He was greatly looking forward to being somewhere tropical. The summers in central Texas were a little hot and dry. It was not exactly what Jim wanted on this vacation. Furthermore, something about the Atlantic Ocean had always appealed to Jim.

Ken took Jim to several sights in the area. Jim saw Busch Gardens, Tiki Gardens, the Salvador Dali Museum, and various other sights in the St. Petersburg/Tampa area. However, Jim spent most of his time at the beaches. Jim loved to swim and bask in the sun. He spent several hours at Clearwater beach, reminiscing with Ken.

Ken was a high school friend of Jim's who was now a professor of philosophy at the University of Tampa. They argued about everything but were still the best of friends. Sometimes being a philosophy professor would give Ken an arguing advantage, but Jim was a good debater in his own right. At times, the two friends got several strange looks from passing beachcombers, but this did not bother them. They would continue on arguing about who was better Batman or Spiderman or what was the best movie of all time.

It was a very relaxing time for Jim despite the occasional agony of defeat. He did not like losing any of the debates. Jim always loved a good debate and Ken was more than willing to oblige him. After two weeks of arguing in the sunshine of Florida, Jim had to press on. He hated to leave, but Wayne and Charleston were waiting.

Jim and Ken had one last debate on the safest mode of transportation, but before the issue could be resolved, Jim had to bid his friend farewell and head for South Carolina. Wayne was one of Jim's most interesting friends. Wayne was a forest ranger in the Francis Marion National Forest. Jim was about to spend two weeks in the wilderness. Being from Montana, Jim was quite at home in the wild; however, he had spent several years at the university in the middle of Texas. There was not a great deal of wilderness in the city of Austin. Further, the South Carolina wilderness is very different from the wilds of Montana or Texas for that matter.

Being in this lovely forest setting gave Jim the chance to take pictures. He did take some pictures in Florida, but Ken was a bit impatient when it came to that sort of thing. When at a particular sight, Ken would not wait around very long. In South Carolina, Jim took pictures of everything. Wayne was very patient and sometimes took some pictures himself. Jim had a digital SLR camera, and he loved to take photos, especially of the scenery. He barely filled his memory card in Florida, and he almost needed to purchase another one to get all the sights of the South Carolina area where he was staying. He spent one whole day taking pictures of wildlife in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.

Wayne and Jim also reminisced about the old days. They used to camp in Wayne's back yard when they were little. They thought it was the greatest in those days. Wayne especially loved it. He would always say that is why he became a forest ranger. There was nothing like the thrill of the outdoors. Being a ranger allowed Wayne to camp out regularly. When he was not camping, he was at least in the wilderness. Wayne was the picture of a contented human being. Jim could never think of a happier person than Wayne. Seeing someone so happy made Jim happy. South Carolina was a very relaxing leg of his trip.

After a couple of weeks in South Carolina, Jim went home to Montana. Jim's dad still lived in Great Falls. His mom had died when Jim was an undergraduate, so he tried to get back home as often as he could. He became really close to his dad after his mom died. He never dreaded coming home to spend some time with his dad.

Jim's dad was the owner operator of a hardware store. Jack Millard never went to college, but often regretted that he never got the chance. Jim's grandparents were never that well off, and they could not afford to send Jack to college. After Jack graduated from high school, he went right to work. He worked in several retail settings until he got the opportunity to open his own business. For ten years, Jack ran a very successful store, and he probably would have retired if his wife had not died. The store was now his reason for getting up in the morning. It was very good therapy for him.

Jim and his dad often talked about Jim's mother. Inevitably, this always led to the same question. "When are you going to find a wife?"

This question Jim could never find a good answer for, and it was the reason he did not often wish to talk about his mother. It always meant having the same conversation.

"How have you been Jimmy?" began Jack.

"Dad, when will you stop calling me that? Do you know I have my Ph.D. now? I am no longer your little Jimmy."

"Sorry, doctor, old habits die hard."

"OK, I guess I can forgive you. I have been fantastic. Ken and Wayne say 'Hi!'"

"How are they doing?"

"Very well, they seem to be very happy."

"Are any of them married?"

"Dad! Are we going to open this old can of worms already?"

"Well?"

"Ken has a serious girl friend, but she is in Paris on some sort of trip or another. I didn't get to meet her. Wayne, well, he lives in another world, and he hasn't met anyone who wants to share it with him. He has met a few women, but nothing serious has come from them yet."

"What about you? Have you met anyone that trips your trigger?"

"Dad, I don't know? It is not that my standards are too high; it is just that nobodies standards are that low."

"Don't sell yourself short son."

"I won't dad, but most women are afraid of me, and the rest have this preconceived notion of who I am. I can't live up to either perception. Thus, I am stuck being alone."

"The big problem you have is you are too shy."

"I agree, that is part of my problem. However, another part is the fact that I actually like being alone. Not many people can understand that."

"I suppose you're right."

"Besides, Jack Jr. has already made you a grandpa. You don't have to worry about that."

"I am just concerned about your happiness."

"Thanks for your concern, but I will be all right. So, how is the store?"

"Business is good. So are you trying to change the subject?"

"Me? No, never, I would never try and do anything like that."

"Son, I would like you know, that I am very proud of you. By the way, the university called they wanted you to call the committee in the morning."

"Did they say what they wanted?"

"Nope! Sorry, I didn't ask either."

"I guess I will find out tomorrow. So, how are Jack, Carol, and little Sean?"

Like always, the conversation of the father and son went long into the night. They talked about just about everything. They even revisited the marriage conversation. When they were equally exhausted, they went to bed.

Jim called the university the next morning. The committee wanted to meet with him in mid-July. He arranged the meeting with them for July 22nd. They were not very specific on the details of this meeting. He tried to find out what it was about, but they were very tight-lipped about the whole thing. He would have to wait until July to find out what they were considering.

This delay would still give him some more time with his dad. He may even meet up with some high school friends that still lived in the area. He was not sure who was still in town, but a few trips around town on his bicycle would let everyone know he was in town.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on April 23, 2006 6:55 PM.

"1000 Word Friday" was the previous entry in this blog.

"Terra Mortis II: The Gathering" - Epilogue is the next entry in this blog.

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