It’s been close to a month since we found out they were closing the plant I’ve been working in for over two decades. There’s been plenty of second-guessing, mild panic, quiet moments of reflection, and craft beer or two drank. Despite the anxiety of the great unknown, I’ve pretty much come to terms with the reality that my employment for the last 22 years will be coming to an end within the next two to three years.
So what to do next? Well, I don’t really know. Despite this town being the orthopedic capital of the world, orthopedics just isn’t looking all that great. Besides us closing our plant, one of the other big players just canned 65 employees this week. They’re calling it downsizing, and someone I work with that used to work at said plant stated they heard from someone that still works there these folks were cut for “performance reasons”. That’s a whole lot of people doing a terrible job. I’m not buying it. This other orthopedic behemoth is simply doing what most big business in America is doing, sending jobs off the mainland to cheaper labor and low to no taxes.
So needless to say I’m done with orthopedics. I want to go elsewhere. What’s my skill set? Well for almost 30 years I’ve worked in shipping and receiving; I unload trucks, I work with purchase orders, I drive a forklift, and deal with suppliers and drivers and purchasing and planning. I’m not an office guy. I get my hands dirty. By the time I leave my current job I’ll be 50 or almost 50-years old. I don’t really want to get my hands dirty anymore, but I’m not against working hard.
I’m thinking a nice spot in distribution somewhere. Hopefully on day shift with medical benefits, paid vacation, and a reasonable wage. I’m not planning on finding something that pays as well as what I make. Those jobs just don’t exist like they used to. But something I can do for 10 or so years to get me to retirement. A placeholder between here and there.
Not sure if this will happen or not, but Sweetwater Sound is only like 40 minutes from me. I’d love to work in their distribution center. Sure, it’s just musical instruments in boxes on skids in racks. But I feel like sending folks musical instruments would be a very satisfying job. And the place is pretty stunning and state-of-the-art. Lots of amenities there, too. Free gym access, on-site doctor office, great cafeteria, and of course lots and lots of guitars.
Who knows what will happen. I know I sure as hell don’t.
I feel that my days of record collecting are going to go by the wayside. Okay, I’m not going to completely stop buying albums. I’ll still keep collecting old jazz records and soundtracks. But as far as new albums go I just dont see myself spending $35-$40 on a single release. The way the industry is going in regards to pressing delays and lack of raw materiels to make said LPs is causing prices to rise. I honestly see the vinyl boom exploding(or imploding) and we all just go back to digital. Or the less expensive route of CDs.
Honestly, I’m having a bit of a CD rennaisance myself. I bought a car over the summer, a 2008 Honda Accord XL-E. It had almost 150,000 miles on it, but the car itself was in great shape. Plus, we paid cash for it. It was supposed to be for my wife, but after I drove it for a bit she asked me if I’d rather drive the Accord and she keep driving her 2013 Ford Flex. I confessed my love for new/old car and she happily let me keep the gold beast. Our son is driving the 2004 Honda Odyssey now, the car I’d been driving for the past 6 years. We bought it brand new in 2004 when we found out we’d be welcoming a third(and final) baby into the Hubner fold. And since that baby was our son we figured it was only right he inherit the old blue tank with 225,000 miles. Still runs like a champ.
Anyways, back to CDs.
So this Accord is the fully loaded model, which includes a 6-disc CD changer. I bought a couple 5-disc jazz sets a couple months ago, one of Herbie Hancock albums and one of Wayne Shorter albums. I’ve been driving around like a cool cat, blasting out some serious hard bop in the gold machine. The stereo in that car is TOP NOTCH. Sounds incredible. So it’s been so much fun pulling CDs out of the collection downstairs and loading them up into the car stereo. I’ve also got a Pioneer 25-disc CD changer upstairs hooked up to the home stereo system. Been loading Coltrane and Miles box sets up and playing those while cleaning the house. I don’t have to worry about flipping LPs while dusting and swiffering floors. It’s pretty great. Plus, six hours of some of the finest bop and fusion going through the house is pretty damn fantastic.
I don’t know. Vinyl has been a pretty substantial chunk of my existence over the last decade or more. As far as true collectors go I don’t have a truly massive amount of vinyl, but it is spread out over two areas of the house, with soundtracks, jazz, and hip hop in the upstairs living room and the rest downstairs. I’ve got close to 1,100 albums in my collection, so it may not be a lot in terms of vinyl heads but it’s sure a hell of a lot of plastic to contend with if and when I decide to move. Or for my kids to deal with when I kick the bucket. Either way, it’s got me thinking that maybe it’s time to pare down the vinyl hunting. CDs are smaller, cheaper, and sound pretty damn good, too.
In fact, I was doing some digging around Discogs and looked up a couple vinyl box sets I had in my collection. Both were going for about 3 to 4 times more than what I bought them for. I never really play them, so I figured what the hell I’ll throw them up there and see if I can sell them. Three days later I was $530 richer. So yeah, I guess vinyl is an investment after all.
I’ve actually been thinking a lot about music, not listening but making. Been spending a lot of time playing my Jazzmaster downstairs in the studio. I’ve been getting a lot of joy out of playing and trying to improve. There’s something really satisfying about creating sounds with my hands, some strings, and a tube amp. I love spinning records, but there’s more to things than that. I’ve always been a music maker, since the age of 18. I’ve played guitar since I was 12, and started coming up with riffs and melodies right out of high school. I’ve continued to play, but with less frequency over the last few years. With everything that’s going on in my work life, the guitar has been a tremendous outlet for me recently. It’s got me thinking that I’d like to invest in a couple more guitars, build my rig up a bit before that luxury won’t be possible for me.
Saturday my son and I headed up to Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne, IN. It’s kind of like Wonka’s Factory for budding musicians and old timer’s like me. A plethora of fantastical music gear and music-making nerds. Long-haired teens and dads in New Balance coalescing among Gibsons, Fenders, Moogs, oh my! It’s mecca for anyone with the itch to create sound collages, whether it be with guitar, bass, drums, keys, or anything in-between. I’d had my eye on a Squier Classic Vibe Jaguar, and since I had some prepaid credit cards via my work’s Rewards Program, plus that cool vinyl green in my Paypal account, my wife said I should pamper myself with a brand new axe. When I get the okay from my wife, then I don’t have to be told twice.
Now some of you guitar guys and gals might be thinking, “Squier? Aren’t those cheaply made Fenders?” Well the short answer is yes, they are. But I’ve gotten over the whole “American Made” guitar snobbery. I used to think that if it wasn’t an American made Fender or Gibson it was junk. But my first electric guitar was a Fender Squier Stratocaster I received for my 14th birthday. That guitar did right by me for my whole high school career, and beyond. I loved that guitar. I still own that guitar, in fact. The Squiers and Epiphones of the last few years are actually pretty solid guitars. My J Mascis Jazzmaster is my main instrument, and has been since 2013 when I bought it. Sure, the pots and input jacks aren’t top notch, but if I can spend $425 on a solid guitar and then spend $250 on some Seymour Duncans and some better hardware(including a proper setup, of course), then I’m still only spend around $700 on a killer guitar as opposed to $1,500 to $2,000. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
So I picked up the Jaguar Saturday, as well as a nice hardshell case that will also fit the JM. It needs a little tweaking but it sounds great. Nice and jangly, plus it’s a beautiful sunburst finish. I’d considered the surf green at first, but after looking at it I thought I’d probably tire of the clolor after a bit. The sunburst is a classic finish. I had a tobacco burst Strat a lifetime ago that I loved. This is a bit lighter, but still close. Once I get it set up with 10 gage strings and install some Seymour Duncan Antiquity pickups this guitar will be smokin’.
I’d love to get a Fender J Mascis Tele at some point, as I sold my American Tele a few years back. My daughter had the oppotunity to go to Canada her senior year of high school. It was to a Shakespeare festival or something. Anyways, I thought the experience of the trip was more important than me having my Tele into retirement. I don’t regret it, but I would like to replace it someday.
So this is where I’m at mentally, emotionally, and existentially right now. Considering life in a new job, paring down what has been a major part of my happy place for over a decade, and replacing some of that happy place with more things. But things I can create with. Things I can improve myself with. Things I’ve been flirting with for almost 3/4 of my life. I feel like that’s a pretty even trade. At least this week I do. We’ll see what next week brings.
That’s all for now. I got a new guitar to play.