It began three months ago when I cancelled my 10-dollar monthly auto-payment to Planet Fitness and matriculated to the Aerobic Center in Greensburg to take advantage of my Silver Sneakers fitness benefits. “Come into my office, Bud, and I’ll get the questionnaire filled out for you.” We breeze through all the questions, and I give my assigned trainer the release signed by my doctor. Then it’s “Come on over here, Bud, and we’ll do your stretches.” Next, he took ‘Bud’ through the nautilus circuit. You get the idea.
Nobody had ever called me ‘Bud’ at Planet Fitness or anywhere else that I can recall. This may be the price I have to pay to continue to execute my ongoing budget cutting strategies initiated in January of 2013. The idea has been to trim monthly expenses to get the biggest bang out of a fixed income. The most complicated element of this strategy was refinancing the mortgage to knock off a few more years and to lower monthly payment by about 20 dollars. Purchasing a hybrid wagon to replace my 13-year-old sedan has been saving me 60 to 80 dollars a month on gasoline. Dropping the house phone, switching TV service to Dish Network, jockeying back and forth between discount and mainline supermarkets, and taking a stab at shopping for utility suppliers—the most preposterous thing they ever came up with—were other moves made in the direction of tightening the budget belt.
Of course, this is an ongoing challenge as charges and rates fluctuate, especially in the area of health insurance. With the onset of the Affordable Health Care Act—known as Obamacare—Medicare Advantage Plans are now receiving less subsidy from Medicare, so premiums for those plans are increasing at an even higher rate than those for Medicare supplemental policies. After two weeks of annoying phone calls—in which I became ‘sir’— to the Medicare Advantage Plan I can no longer afford, the supplemental insurance to which I am applying, and to the office of my holistic primary care physician, I mailed my application to elect the new plan two weeks ago. This could result in a potential savings of about $100 a month if my health profile continues on an even keel for 2015.
I won’t jump for joy just yet because I am pretty certain that as soon as the ball drops in Times Square at Midnight on January 1st, new price increases, utility rate hikes, and rising food prices will wipe out much of my health insurance savings before I ever notice any surplus in the budget.
Lest you conclude that I am miserly by nature, vigilant budget control keeps me away from part-time retail work. That allows me time for reading and writing, participating in writing groups and workshops, pursuing lifelong learning classes at the University of Pittsburgh, and volunteering as a docent at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. I also volunteer once a month on Sunday mornings to wheel residents at Westmoreland Manor to and from mass at their in-house chapel.
Just as I continue to wear many hats in my retirement years, I consider my varied monikers now and in years past. Way back in undergraduate days at IUP, my slow, deliberate modus operandi earned me the nickname, ‘Flash,’ courtesy of my Chippewa House mates. In my teaching years, I was primarily ‘Mr. Knoepfle’ or ‘Mr. K’.
In my final six years at Greater Latrobe Junior High, I sometimes heard the name, ‘Special K,’ hurled in my direction by “admiring” students. I thought it was kind of cute until I discovered that ‘Special K’ was the new street name for a certain white powder with which I did not wish to be associated. Closing out my teaching career with three rewarding years as an adjunct instructor at CCAC, my students at the Allegheny Campus and at the Homewood-Brushton Center grooved with ‘Mr. Dave.’
When I sold big-screen TV’s and other electronics at the Greensburg Sears, I reincarnated into ‘Dave K’ by necessity. When I had first landed at Sears, there were two other ‘Dave’s’ in Home Electronics, and the Operations Manager of the store was a ‘Dave.’ Even after the three other ‘Dave’s’ moved on, ‘Dave K.’ stuck to me like the Blue Crew shirt and khakis I wore.
When I left Sears at the end of March, 2012, for a 16-month stint at the Delmont Wal-Mart, nobody seemed to care about ‘Dave K’ anymore. I was simply ‘Dave’ of Electronics. Of course, wearing many hats is a trademark of the Wal-Mart experience. As needs dictated on any given day, I became ‘Dave’ issuing hunting and fishing licenses, ‘Dave’ cutting fabric, ‘Dave’ bundling and pricing pictures spewing out of the photo machine, not to mention ‘Dave’ mixing paint. Maybe I should have been called ‘Jack’—as in the ‘Jack of all trades.’
In my tours with fourth and seventh graders last week at the art museum, I introduced myself as ‘David,’ your volunteer docent. On the tennis court at the Greensburg Racquet Club on certain Monday or Tuesday evenings, my wicked cross-court, fore-hand return reveals the ‘Killer’ in me. At home the cats know me as ‘Daddy Dave.’ Then, too, Cokie often calls me ‘Myoww’ when we do laundry together. Patches, whom I have caught myself calling ‘Bud’—short for ‘Buddy’—commands my attention with ‘Maaaaallllllllllll’ when he is lusting to help me with yard work and bird watching on a sunny day.
In the spirit of being a fearless writer, I will tell you that a birthday or other greeting card from Jay often begins with ‘Dear Davy Boy,’ to which I reply in kind. The address of my website, designed by John R. Miller (whom I occasionally call ‘Johnny’) is ‘davidknoepfle.com.’ Yet, I sign my writing as ‘Dave Knoepfle.’
I have no easy answer when people at meetings, classes, and workshops ask me if I prefer ‘Dave’ or ‘David.’ I really do like them both. ‘Dave’ is the casual me; ‘David’ the more formal. I usually tell people to use the name with which they feel more comfortable. I assure them that I will respond happily to either.
I suppose that, just as I have done with my Silver Sneakers trainer, I might even answer to ‘Bud.’ In retrospect I had never thought of myself as a ‘Bud.’ So what is a ‘Bud?’
I think ‘Bud’ is that guy or gal that I see almost every day—that ‘Bud’ who holds the door and smiles at me; that ‘Bud’ who donates his or her time to serve the community; that ‘Bud’ who performs the small acts of kindness for those less fortunate. In fact, ‘Bud’ touched me yesterday by offering to corral my supermarket shopping cart along with his own after we had loaded Thanksgiving groceries into our vehicles, side by side.
If being called ‘Bud’ places me somewhere near the company of all those other ‘Buds,’ those regular guys (and gals) who brighten every day, maybe I don’t mind at all. I still prefer ‘Dave’ or ‘David.’ But if you do call me ‘Bud,’ just flash me some teeth and friendly body language until I get a little more used to it.
© Dave Knoepfle