Hi everyone; just arrived in the Real World. I haven’t visited here in a long time. For three decades, I was living happily in Alternative World. There was no schedule in Alternative World. No bedtime, no starting time for work. Over 10,000 mornings without setting an alarm clock. In Alternative World, it was not necessary to commute. Lunches were leisurely when I worked for myself.

I could stay up to 1 a.m. and sleep until 9 a.m. I had no boss and no set work schedule. I did my work in whatever order I chose and took off work for reasons I considered important: my kid’s games, dance recitals and school events.  I felt very blessed to have this flexibility and my family appreciated it. 

But I began living in the Real World on Oct. 6. It was a tough adjustment to get up early. I noticed that coffee is the key substance in the Real World. People gulp it in the morning and have a little pick-me-up in the afternoon. After about six cups, I was finally feeling chipper enough to face the world.

Part of this process required putting on presentable clothing. Back in Alternative World, it didn’t matter what I wore. Those of you who work from home know what I’m talking about. Instead of easing into my day, sipping coffee, while watching the news, I had to find two socks that matched and rush to the Blue Line on time. I know all of this sounds normal to you but it was a shock to my system. If I wasn’t on time, my boss would let me know. 

When I lived in Alternative World, one day was no different from the rest. In the Real World, I learned that each day has its own identity.  On Mondays, I feel a bit brain-dead. I’m still recovering from a busy weekend, not quite ready to face the new week.

As for the other days, I have some guides to help me navigate this new schedule. I was asking my wife if she ever felt really tired, like she was just trying to push herself to the finish line. “It’s called Thursday,” she replied. I asked my daughter if she had ever felt completely drained and empty inside. She said, “Yeah, it’s called Friday.”

In the classic Blues song, “Stormy Monday,” ‘The Eagle flies on Friday.’ My eagle didn’t fly. It ate a little Chinese and collapsed on the couch. I found myself going to bed early on weekday nights. Last week, I turned down an invitation to a concert. I actually said to myself, “This job is more important than having fun at night.” 

As I make this adjustment to the Real World, I have found certain perks. A couple of weeks ago, my boss handed me an envelope. I opened it. It had a paycheck inside.  He promised to give me one every two weeks. Wow, I had never received a regular paycheck in Alternative World. So, that’s why the Real World is such a popular place to live.  

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.

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