Work You Love

John Hudspeth

At 76, my friend John Hudspeth took a job as a dishwasher.

Sounds like a retirement horror story, huh?

Not really.

John says the job has extended his life. I’ll let him explain in his own words, but, first, you should know that he didn’t need the work to pay bills.

After 42 years working for the Texas Department of Transportation and another eight doing stone fabrication, John had plenty on which to retire. Which he did for about four years.

But the inactivity wasn’t good for him. In his words, “I was an overweight couch potato just waiting to die.”

Then, in February, his son-in-law opened a new restaurant at Tradewinds Airport in Amarillo (that’s Shelby’s Diner for you local readers). As you know, help is hard to find these days so John volunteered to wash dishes for free. After a couple of weeks, he started receiving a salary (though I’m not sure he cashes all the checks).

So my friend did it to help family and be around his wait staff grandkids. John says that’s important to him: “I only knew one grandparent and didn’t know him very well.”

And there’s this: John has always loved airplanes (both his sons became professional pilots), and he gets to see aircraft and talk to some of the pilots every day.

For you aviation aficionados, there are Beach King Airs, Cessna Citations and an occasional Pitts Special, Extra 360 (designed for aerobatics) and an Army Apache helicopter.

John says he has lost weight and lowered his blood pressure. Which is not bad considering the two free meals he gets daily. For the record, I sampled one during our interview—sumptuous but I doubt I’d be losing weight with these.

So it seems a happy retirement can mean doing work you love. If so, my friend’s smile says it all. In his words, “I could be a dishwasher until I’m 100.”

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