“The way the U.S. does CAFE standards is not good energy policy.” Sue and Bill Cherolis are techies of the old school variety. Bill was a metallurgist for a variety of automobile and steel fabrication plants. Sue was a lab technician in hospitals. But that does not mean they are aligned with outdated industrial policies. “In Europe there are no CAFE standards; they don’t need them. They just have better fuel pricing, which induces conservation. You don’t see a person driving a pick-up as a personal vehicle in Europe.”
Sue and Bill built a large house on a lake in Santa Claus about fifteen miles from BiIl’s last plant assignment, with an eye toward retiring there. Last winter, their first year of full retirement, they spent two months on the Gulf Coast. The rest of the year they enjoy Southern Indiana.
They recently installed solar panels on their house and Bill showed me the distribution curve of his solar daily collection. “We have net metering in Indiana, so the utility company buys what I don’t use. You have to have that system to make solar work.”
Sue and Bill have a daughter who lives nearby and one son who’s on his fifth deployment to Afghanistan: three while on active duty and now two while in the Reserves. Another son, Tony, lives in Hartford CT where he gave up a corporate job at Pratt and Whitney and sold his car. Now he rides his bike and works at the Latino Culture Center in Hartford. It takes all kinds. Sue and Bill host cyclists in appreciation of all the people who have hosted Tony in his travels.
I asked Bill if he missed work. “There’s energy in problem solving. I was a manager; I had different work every day. I enjoy being retired, but I miss that energy.” Yet retirement presents Bill with a puzzle. “We’ve saved enough to live a long time. I just don’t know how to convince myself to start drawing down. You save your whole life; it becomes your way of thinking. You can’t just turn that off and start spending.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“I see a lot of turmoil on the immigration issue. We are a nation of immigrants. My grandparents came from Greece in 1914. My mother was a Smith; she came here in 1717. But they were all immigrants.
“I’ve heard of a truck convoy of semi’s where the lead is actually driving and the rest are automated. The steel plant I worked at in the mid-1970’s had 20,000 employees. Now it has 1700. It makes as much product, of better quality. Automation doesn’t get rid of all work, but it’s a different kind of work. It’s problem solving, not muscle.” – Bill