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Every once in a while I have a conversation with my landlord. Now, he is a pleasant guy, and he’s let me know that I don’t have to replace everything that breaks in my apartment. That may be true, but doing stuff around here helps to keep me sane. You see, he knows that I have gone from being a starving unemployed tenant, to a starving unemployed writing hack tenant. Only trouble is, I haven’t made enough money to become a plain ordinary hack. I think neither of us really minds.

Anyway, a few years ago, one day, he was asking why I was walking every where. I didn’t want to say it, but he put me on the spot. He knows that my Tercel is in good working order. He also knows it is a sturdy mechanical beast and that it is economical.

So he asks why I’m not using the car, exclaiming that the car gets forty miles to the gallon. My response: Not on AIR it doesn’t!

Anyway, I knew he was exaggerating a bit about the mileage. Of course he jumped the gun by saying it would if I let it coast on the down side of hills. I couldn’t burst his bubble by saying that my hills lately were all in the up direction. Getting steeper every day.

We got around to my retirement. He was cursing how military retirees get all these good bennies. I guess the less than standard free medical care I get was a gripe. But so was the money for college, among other things. Had to straighten him out there. I showed him copies of my records that showed wherever I was injured and the one time I was dangerously ill with a sinus infection, that I was given motrin (ibuprofin) either until I came in on stretcher or I fainted due to the pain. Oh yeah, I also showed him the six thousand dollar bill I received for not being able to participate in the VEAP (Veteran’s Educational Assistance Program). Oh yeah, they also mentioned I could sign up for something I didn’t qualify, namely the New GI Bill.

He kept saying things like ‘wow, I didn’t know’. ‘That’s okay’, I kept telling him, at least I still get my 989 after taxes. Of course my rent was close to half that, not to mention phone, power and water bills.

‘No wonder you walk every where.’

‘Yeah, I haven’t figured out how to get 40 mpg out of air, yet.’