Coffee with Friends

For her column this month, Anett Gabriel sat down with Marfa resident Steve Wilcox over coffee to talk about life after retirement. In her newly titled column, “Coffee with Friends,” Gabriel interviews local artists, business owners, friends and neighbors.

Anett Gabriel: What’s your day like?

Steve Wilcox: It’s really good. I woke up with a smile on my face, because I get the chance to do some good in the world, help people out.

AG: How has life changed since you’ve retired from the railroad? What’s your daily schedule?

SW: I worked 43 years on the rail and have been retired since I was 60. Now, you don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to, because you don’t depend on a time schedule. You still have responsibilities to do around the house and to the family, but it’s not a sense of emergency.

You work hard when you’re younger, so when you’re retired you don’t have to work, and you have to make room for the younger generation. It’s kind of strange, but I’m glad to be retired.

I wake up in the morning around 4:30 a.m. to take care of the animals. I feed the chickens and then during the day, I clean the fence and make sure that all the animals have plenty of water and then just do miscellaneous chores around the house beside my wife, Vickee.

AG: How much do you sleep?

SW: I sleep about 4 to 5 hours a night. I don’t want to sleep too much, because I might miss something. There is as much going on at night as there is in the day time.

AG: You’ve been wearing gloves all year, even before the pandemic. When did you start wearing them?

SW: I first started wearing gloves in 1979, when I got a bad flu with a high fever. At the time, I was staying in downtown Houston in a hotel apartment complex where I met a Chinese couple who referred me to a local herb doctor. I went to see the doctor and asked for prevention. I explained to him what kind of public work I do and he said to wear gloves. He said everything you touch has germs on it and, everything has been touched by someone before you. And when you touch things and don’t wash your hands and rub your eyes, that’s when you get sick. I have not been sick a day since then. And I always keep two pairs of gloves around.

AG: What’s your favorite TV show?

SW: Trailer Boy, a Canadian comedy on Netflix. And I love to watch the old Star Trek.

AG: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen?

SW: They say lightning doesn’t strike twice. Well, back in 1995, one night on the train, about 100 miles outside of Houston, lightning struck a big old oak tree by the track. It was so bright. Then the next day going back to San Antonio, I went by that tree and you could see the big streak on it’s side. About two to three years, later the lightning hit the same tree. I happened to be there both times. And to this day, the oak tree is still standing.

AG: How often are you stopped by a tourist?

SW: About every two to three weeks. They love my tie dye t-shirt that Vickee got me from the thrift shop, I’ve even been photographed when wearing it a couple of times.

AG: What’s your favorite meal?

SW: Spicy spaghetti with skinless fried chicken.

AG: What’s the last thing that made you laugh?

SW: When I saw a guinea chasing the chickens this morning. You sit there and watch all the birds and they act just like people. They have different personalities and there is always someone in charge and you can always tell who the boss is.