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Thursday, May 22, 2008



Would you believe that the cheapest airfare off Mau'i isn't a direct flight to my destination? While my flight will entail more travel time, I'll save between $200-$400 by flying to Phoenix and then on to northern California. And I got this deal from a travel agent out of Michigan. And speaking of travel agents, they have become non-existent in Kihei. Used to be that every shopping center in town had at least one agency. Not anymore. And the last one left in town is shutting their doors at the end of the month. Does that tell you something about the local economy? People that live here aren't going anywhere.

Sadly, my kitty Bear won't be able to go with me. None of the airlines take pets anymore, whether as cargo or inside the cabin. I have found him a good loving home. I bawled like a baby. He moves tomorrow. This is my last night with him. I have had him since the day he was born. For over 8 years he has been my constant companion. I am going to miss him sooo much.

Packing progresses. I am downsizing my life to the absolute necessities. Judy and Richard are taking in most of my stuff, accumulated over almost 15 years, and will have a yard sale in the near future. Four piles:
  • TAKE.
  • SHIP.
  • SALE.
  • TRASH.
The SALE one is the largest.

I'll be at my son's (& family) place before the 1st.

I am going to try and make this transition as seamless as possible for the blog. There will be a "facelift" on June 1st that I hope you enjoy.

I arrived on Mau'i on January 24, 1994, with a hefty amount of money in my pocket. For the prior 4 years I had been involved in the retail end of the "adult" entertainment business, as a regional manager of stores in northern California and Nevada. Judy and family had already moved to Maui and an opportunity arose for me here. Naturally I made the move, who wouldn't, and things didn't quite work out as planned. Something I was to learn is a common occurrence on the island. Eventually went to work at one of the major car rental agencies at the airport, where I discovered that I was only a mediocre salesperson. In the Fall of 1999, I suffered a heart attack while at work. It was months before I could return. Luckily I had purchased both long and short term disability packages from the health insurance plan the company offered. When I did make it back, my commission checks started dropping rapidly. I discovered that the company had changed how commissions were calculated, to their favor. Eventually I left when the situation became intolerable. Hard times for about a year until I started driving cab. I was happy again. The island took on a new splendor. Money was coming in hand over fist. Then the company changed hands and business began to fall off. Slowly, but always a little less income than the prior month. Then that spate of bad luck I had in December and February with unavoidable traffic collisions. After the company refused to lease me a cab, I tried to find other leases. By that time the economic downturn had become a significant factor and there was nothing available. Tried to capitalize on my managerial expertise but I was the wrong ethnic background. Not so much racial prejudice as just people taking care of their own as things got worse. Most locals are inter-related in one form or another. I wasn't needed or wanted. My friend Van, who I've never mentioned before is also my landlord, finally came up with the suggestion of going to Asia to teach English as a second language. He has done it and gave me the contacts that I needed. Sadly, I was running out of money and wouldn't be able to get all the necessary paperwork completed before I would be homeless. Called my son and he agreed to take me in. The rest is now the future that awaits me.

I have enjoyed living in the land of the endless summer. Temperatures never exceeded 98f or got lower than 55f. The warmer days always tempered by the natural air conditioning of the trade winds. The majority of the people I have met on Mau'i have been extraordinarily friendly. The notable exceptions being native Hawaiians. The cost of Paradise, as I have often documented, is beyond belief. Housing, utilities, goods, food mean that making $50k a year was just allowing a person to live on the verge of comfortable. On Maui, a single person earning less than $25k a year is below the poverty line. That line is about $45k for a family of 4. In most areas of the country, let alone the world, that much income would guarantee a very enjoyable livestyle. Here it is subsistence.

My health has deteriorated drastically since 1999. Getting old more rapidly than my years can account for. I hope for 5-10 more but acknowledge that each awakening is a blessing. My energy level, my physical strength, etc. just keep going further south everyday. Luckily, that stuff between the ears hasn't depleted as rapidly as everything else.

Another great sorrow is that the odds are against Judy and I ever seeing each other again. We have been friends since January of 1980. We've had our joys and our disagreements and have gone months without speaking because our paths never crossed. But we have always been there for the other. Of course we'll stay in contact but the odds of laying eyes on each other again after next week are pretty low. We love each other very much, in a platonic way. Other than our children, we've both known each other longer than anyone else. There'll be a lot of tears when I leave.

Once I get the necessary paperwork completed, the future does look bright. As the economies of many Asian countries emerge, the people are seeking business opportunities and need the ability to speak English in a conversational manner. Not the rigid, precise way a second language is formally taught but the ability to converse about a multitude of subjects and the need to learn idioms, humor (lets face it, American humor is strange to other cultures) and different regional dialects. The version of American English that I speak is basically neutral. Classified as American Broadcast Standard. I sound just like every newscaster across the nation. In fact, people often thought I was from their part of the country when they rode with me. If I can teach students to speak in my style, they'll find themselves easily accepted where ever their future takes them. A very minor bit of immortality for me.

I am glad I have lived on Maui. With all the ups & downs I would still rate it at a B+ grade level.

But I look forward to whatever the future holds. Life must be experienced. You are dead forever.

See ya in the morning.


Over The Limit?
Please don't drink and drive

"Let's all be careful out there!"