Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Years ago Barbara Bush, who was one of my favorite first ladies, Hillary is the other, wrote a book called "Millie's Book" which was about life in the Bush family through the eyes of the first dog, Millie. It is a funny and cute book that pokes fun at just about everything.

At one point, while recounting the long list of George H W Bush's jobs in public service , Millie muses that George must not be able to hold down a job. As I keep telling about all the previous jobs I have held, I can't help but think of that line of Millie's and that you probably are thinking the same thing. Couldn't Patti hold a job? However if you consider that I worked for 48 years, and that two of those jobs ate up 29 years, I wasn't really a serial job hopper. That did leave 19 years of floundering about though.

My last job came after I retired from the state. I really wanted some extra play money and wasn't yet comfortable in the role of "retiree." About one mile from where I lived, there was a beautiful gated community that catered to hunting and riding folks. I had been inside many times for high bill complaints when I worked for the power company and yes, the wealthy also hate high light bills.

Miles of dirt roads wound through pine forest and oak hammocks. There were almost 50 miles of riding trails for the horse lovers and acres of hunting areas. The homes were on the minimum of 2.5 acre lots and were beautiful. Some were cabins and some sprawling estates. Not marble and glass though for they had to conform to the country setting and be approved by the board of directors. Even the color they painted their barn was regulated. It was the regulations that would have strangled me but it did not stop me enjoying the beauty. The people who lived there were of the wealthy, woodsy sort.

The Club had the obligatory club house , swimming pool and tennis courts but it also sported its own airstrip. I often told the Realtors that they did not have to "sell" the homes and lots. All they had to do was drive the prospective buyers past the gate house and the place sold itself. It was a high priced paradise.

Deer and turkey were everywhere except during hunting season. Then the hunting areas were barren and the wild life were all gathered safely around the homes of the more benign residents who put out food for the wild creatures. A war of words was constantly waged between the animal lovers and the hunters.

Working there as a gatekeeper had been in the back of my mind for a long time. The closeness to my home, and the fact that I would only worked three, 12 hour days a week appealed. That gave me 4 days a week to play. However for those 12 hours, I was confined to the guard house with no breaks. My job would be to charm and protect.

True, while there was a bathroom, two way radio, phone,TV, A/C and a microwave, it was still pretty confining and isolated. That I was surrounded by beautiful woods helped as well as the delightful residents that I tended to hold on to as they came through.

There were 300, two and a half acre lots in the club and a large percentage were occupied or visited regularly. On an average day 200 cars passed through the gates but in a 12 hour day that only amounted to not quite 17 cars an hour. You really had to be content with your own company, which fortunately I am.

I basically had to memorize almost 300 owners, their spouses, their 2.5 kids, relatives, their cars, their friends and employees. My job was to allow only the approved persons through the gates. Simple huh? Did I mention I was 62? I had always been a bit smug about my memory but this was a challenge and I was way past my peak.

A month into the job, I was driving to town one day when I saw someone I had known for years pass by. We did the usual wave but then it dawned on me that I could not remember his name. I reasoned that I had crammed my mind so full of new names, that some of the old ones, just leaked out. Seems my brain had reached capacity. My memory smugness took a dive.

On the whole, the residents were totally delightful people that I became fond of and I have kept in touch with several since I moved to Arkansas via the Internet. The only time the job got unpleasant was during election time of the Board of Directors. As with all politics, the residents became sharply divided. I had to play like Sweden and remain neutral.

You have now met the Club. In the future, I will tell some stories of that delightful yet complicated place that existed as its own tiny county.


  1. Is that the county I'm in right now? That sounds like a good job. I used to work 12 hour shifts at a hospital and love the time off.

  2. I know we are in for some funny occurrences...aren't we Patti!!!
    Can hardly wait to hear them!!!

  3. oooh I bet you have some stories to tell, I can't wait. And, did you get a bathroom break or have to go to the woods?

  4. Sounds like a neat 'retiree' type job.... I retired young at age 62 and thought about working part-time. But --a part-time job did not come through for me, so I just relaxed and enjoyed life. NOW at age 67, I do NOT want to go back to work...

    Loved reading about your gate-keeper job. Must have been interesting.

  5. Is there any place today that does not involve "political" conflict. This place sounds like a world of its own.

    Why did you choose Arkansas for your retirement?

  6. I bet you do have some stories to tell, patti! I am looking forward to reading them all.

  7. We have a good number of places like that around here, and I am sure they have stories to tell, too. Andrew Young and his wife lived in one of them while they were still friends with John Edwards, and I have delivered wedding flowers to the clubhouse on many occasions.

  8. Linda Starr,
    Just a bit farther south in Okeechobee county. I liked that time off also.

    Some will be funny, Friday's story..not so much.

    Park Wife,
    There was a bathroom in the guard house but when the toilet broke once, I did make like a bear in the woods.

    Know what you mean. Today I wouldn't work for any reason short of starvation. Do love my leisure.

    Three back to back hurricane plus
    the fact that Arkansas is a beautiful state . Also this state gave me the most bang for my Real Estate buck.

    Hope I don't disappoint. It was interesting.

    My what a lovely couple of creeps. ot sure who was worse. did you get to see them?

  9. That sounds like a job I would love. I'm sure you met some characters. Looking forward to more of your entertaining stories.

  10. Sounds like an interesting set of stories in the wings. Can't wait.
    Thanks for ringing the Bell Thursday at 2PM EST. It's really turned into a joyful noise event for all cancer survivors.

  11. Oh My god.. I envy u so much !!!! Job at 62 .. I 'm thinking of retiring from my job now only ..:P.. and di di tell u that I'm only 25 .. He he he.. anyways ..
    who wouldn't want to guard the place which is so beautiful ..
    Very well written .

  12. What I want to know is what bad behavior did you employ fighting the boredom? As the cars passed by did you ever throw water balloons? or shoot the irritating teenagers with a paintball gun? Spit wads would be silent and stick to those black Mercedes nice and quite like. Hee hee
    Or what about instituting a toll - Patti's retirement fund.
    I know you did at least one bad thing.

  13. Patti it does seem you have had a lot of jobs....I am so glad you are able to find a story in all of them....When I worked at AT&T I worked escallations. There were about 10 of us that sat in an area. When it was slow one of my co workers would turn to me and say, 'Helen, tell us a story." I always had one...

  14. SVB,
    It was oddly stressful trying to keep 300 people happy but I really did enjoy it.

    I have my bell ready. Thanks for the post.

    Ah... you are such a puppy, I envy you your youth. Enjoy it, every minute of it.

    Toll would have been a good idea and since I had done a tour of duty as a toll collector it would have been a natural. Rats, always too late with ideas.

    4th sister,
    I know people who worked one job all their lives, I could never have done that. Did you make up the stories or tell real life ones? They must have been good to have recieved requests.

  15. wow.. do u have to remember all those names? i m sure i couldnt and i m not 62 yet.. phew.. u r doing good and cool!

  16. My half sister had the wherewithal when her husband died, to live in a gated community. She wandered through all the options, and finally chose to complete renovate their home into HER home which she spent enough to buy a nicer other house. But she is happy.

    At 73 I would dislike the task to memorize anything, musch less 300 names.

    My husband would be good at that, except he doesn't like cabin fever.

    At my age I would rather have a condo with lawn and maid service! However the usually ban dogs. (IF I had the wherewithal)

  17. reanaclaire,
    Thanks. I did it but it wasn't easy. Right before I left, a bunch of new people came in and I was glad I didn't have to remember them.

    Know what you mean. I am kind of dreading Spring for all the work involved but so far, I think it is worth the aches and pains. Maybe someday.

  18. You have so many interesting jobs Patti....You realy should write a book, my dear!

    I have problems with Clubs and Gated and Private Communities...I guess because as a young person so many of these "Clubs" were 'restricteed'. But I look forward to reading more about you and your job there.