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boomer line


You won’t see the boomer line until it’s too late.

One day runs to another, week to week, year to year, until you look around and wonder, “What happened?”

You made plans, you read books, you knew what you were doing, but it still fell apart and you’re left to pick up the pieces.


Talking Heads said it like this:

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself
Well…How did I get here?

How did you get there?

The classic baby boomers, the first wave, saw their future and tossed it over for a life they chose for themselves, not something from Leave It To Beaver or Father Knows Best.

Boomer knows best showed up in the mid-60’s when the choices were go to college or get drafted for Vietnam.

One man, a PhD entomologist, a bug man, stayed in school to avoid the draft, finished his doctorate, then got drafted. He went in as a captain charged with spraying bugs in areas for fire bases.

His big complaint? Guys with Master’s degrees were also captains, and there he was with a PhD. For all the effort avoiding the war he fit right in with his rank-envy.

Other people moved through those years and found themselves on the outside looking in. One man, the son of a retired Army colonel, lost touch with his parents because of a disagreement over Vietnam. He’d already served and saw the problems.

His dad saw things from a WWII point of view and crossed the boomer line.

Still others took the advice to turn on, tune in, and drop out. Some of them are still dropping and haven’t hit bottom.

The boomer second wave saw the work the first wave put in and rolled with it. By then the war was winding down, the draft gave way to an all-volunteer deal, and life seemed to normalize. No one thought of starting over in Canada by then.

This is a second wave written blog. I’ve always been fascinated by hippies and communes and the freedom they seemed to represent. Older boomers knew how to move around, fix things, make do with what they had.

Instead of the life lined out for them if they behaved themselves, they took the other route.

B.T.O sang it in 1973:

You get up every morning
From your ‘larm clock’s warning
Take the 8:15 into the city
There’s a whistle up above
And people pushin’, people shovin’
And the girls who try to look pretty
And if your train’s on time
You can get to work by nine
And start your slaving job to get your pay
If you ever get annoyed
Look at me I’m self-employed
I love to work at nothing all day

Were they bragging about it? Sounds like it.

Working at nothing all day isn’t the goal, and anyone who’s played in a band knows it. There’s always a conflict of interest and it leads to a break up. Look at the Beatles.

But life goes on.

Where is the boomer line today?

We’re used to automation, smart phones, and facebook. When things breakdown we find someone to fix it. Angie’s List, craigslist, and yelp reviews help. So does a lack of pride.

Your grandpa fixed things. You’re dad and mom fixed things. Now you’re as old as them and you have to call people? For shame. You ought to be able to do the easy stuff. If not, you’re crossing the boomer line.

What if you have a leaky faucet in a tiny bathroom? It’s an old building, too old for normal plumbing.

You take the faucet apart and replace the O-rings, grease up the threads, and put it back together. If it doesn’t leak, you win. If it still leaks, buy a new faucet.

Now you’re under the cabinet in a tight spot looking at hard pipe leading down from the faucet and pressure connected in the middle to hard pipes coming from the hot and cold handles in the wall.

Wtf? Call someone? Pay a handyman $50 an hour, a plumber $150? Or stay in there.

Three hours later you’ve installed the new faucet with flex-hose and no leaks. You stayed in your lane and got it done. You feel like Superman, but it’s just a faucet replacement.

Where does that burst of joy come from?

Hours of making tiny quarter turns on a crusty nut on a long threaded anchor? Facing an unknown ending that feels like disaster? Or is the joy from self reliance.

You did something related to all of civilization: You did the best you could with what you’ve got.

Let the celebration begin. What’s your celebration? Leave a comment.

About David Gillaspie
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