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It was an easy question, one I should have fielded with little difficulty.

“How are you today, Bob?” the waitress politely inquired.

After a pregnant pause, I replied: “You know, I’m really not sure.“

It was a sincere response. I feel somewhat discombobulated, out of sorts.

It’s like residing in a world that’s half-real, half-imagined. Some factual; some facade.

After retiring a couple of years ago I came to grips with the quintessential question: Which are you going to run out of first, money or life?

I gradually realized it would be life. Though hardly a Mr. Moneybags, I am financially stable, comfortable. Forty years of hard work and four decades of minimalist spending saw to that.

I assumed we were living in a meritocracy so I endeavored to be a man of merit, a guy with a strong work ethic. I still write a few human interest columns for fun, but I don’t need a paycheck. Those days are in my rearview mirror.

So why so confused about this puzzle, this economic landscape before me? It appears incomplete, as if a few vital pieces are missing. Why can’t I answer the question posed by the waitress?

The edges are far too blurry for Bob. Something doesn’t feel right. There’s something askew here, as if I’m limping through an episode of the Twilight Zone.

For the past few weeks I’ve been seeing signs stating: “Now Hiring! Help Needed! Jobs Available!”

Where is our workforce? Has everyone retired? Or, are they at home playing video games?

I asked the waitress, “Why are you so short staffed?”

She smiled, then explained. “It’s not just us. Everyone needs workers.”

Perhaps the circumstance is not as dire as President Biden suggests during his rare speaking appearances.

“I know people are really hurting out there,” Biden has uttered repeatedly.

Maybe that $1,400 stimulus check will help.

Then again, maybe not.

“Some people decided to stay home rather than work,” the waitress stated. “The government is paying for everything.”

I was raised on a principle of responsibility. Develop into a productive human being and work will provide sustenance and self-esteem.

Nothing discombobulating there.

“Hurting” has become both a vague and vogue word these days. Dad would have seen this as a deteriorating development, one spiraling dangerously out of control.

Yes, sometimes we must rely on the kindness of strangers. But living off the government is a precarious practice. Printing and borrowing more money seems neither practical nor prudent.

If people aren’t working, how do we pay for all of these other promised entitlements?

Did I mention I’ve been discombobulated?

I’m sure our leaders will figure it out while perpetually campaigning in Washington DC. However, sometimes I wonder if they have our best interests at heart ...

Work is not optional. America must be industrious to thrive and survive.

Remember, freedom isn’t free. It must be earned.

Contact Columnist Bob Bridge at 812–276-9646 or

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