I just got off the phone with my one-time office spouse, and I’m feeling guilty.
An office spouse is that work colleague with whom you are so close you develop a bond that is like marriage — one of complete trust and confidence. But not sex. So that’s not what I feel guilty about.
Like me, Mary is recently retired after a lifetime of interesting, challenging jobs, mostly in journalism, or related fields. Her husband is retired, too, and through their hard work, they are “well off” now, even after having put kids through college.
I have done less well but I faced fewer college bills — not my own, and not my kids’. Financially, I am “comfortable” (providing I don’t live too long).
As I talked with Mary, I realized that I am pretty much in a bubble.
I am retired, I draw a Social Security check each month, plus a pension check (that will expire some day, as a previous owner of the Daily News and Inquirer shut it down about a decade ago.
But it is there for now, and that is something some other people will not get, as employers have pretty much dropped pensions and moved toward 401K investments (which are a good deal, but not as good as a “defined benefit” pension, uncoupled from stock market shifts, up or down).
I do not have to worry about losing my job, a tragedy that has struck millions of Americans due to the pandemic.
I do not have to worry about child care, a burden that millions of Americans carry as two parents work to support the family.
My expenses are controlled, I can pay mortgage and utility bills, but I know millions of jobless Americans can not.
I am in a bubble.
I stay at home most days, because of the pandemic. When I go out, I wear a mask, and gloves. I avoid people like the plague, pardon the pun.
I know what they say, but I am not wearing the mask to protect you. I have it on to protect me. Sorry if that sounds self-centered, but that’s how I feel. I wish you would do it, too.
My bubble has insulated me from the fear of disease felt by essential workers, who must work the busses, staff the hospitals, punch the cash registers, drive the cop cars, trucks, fire engines, ambulances, garbage trucks, and who stock the shelves. They risk their health every day.
Being in the bubble makes me feel fortunate, and a little guilty, too.
I don’t have anything I haven’t earned, but it is good luck, too, that I have dodged the bullet.
So I make periodic contributions to a couple of the many charities that have been overburdened by the current crisis.
If you are feeling fortunate, find a charity and give a little.
You will feel even better.