The act of retiring, ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, at least that is the feeling, the angst as things draw near are a constant. Things go from picturesque steam belching train through fall foliage in New England to a soot-covered, filthy freight train hauling the Last Ringling Brothers circus to its final destination.
All the degrees of acceptance and denial are interwoven, just getting to RETIREMENT. The oddity is they are arranged differently, and some of the labeled degrees repeat.
Bear with me as I try to go back through it all, emotions is such a dirty word for me.
“Wait, what did he just say?”
Yes, despite what you may know about me, the dreaded thing called emotions does exist at some level. I prefer not showing any, ever. I at least have this little voice saying, insert feelings here. I once took a test that tries to categorize you, yea good luck with that. One of those feel-good work seminar things. An area tested for was labeled Empathy. After answering all the questions, the results were as I expected. I flunked.
Several years ago, I toyed with the idea of retiring. No one would believe I was considering retirement, despite facing an age of Social Security. I was too mean to do nothing. Voted most likely to be the guy who yells at kids about the lawn has always been a badge of honor. I wore it like armor.
I announced a timeframe a few years into the future to test the waters. No date was chosen, no month of finality. Just started saying, “In a few years, I won’t be here.”
Management was slow to come around to my thinking, but in time I wore them down. They started taking me seriously. The deeply embedded work efforts that only I understood were slowly passed on to others. The level of acceptance of my retiring gained traction. My goal of saying it often and loud was gaining traction. I started a chalkboard countdown a good thousand days out. No lie. Peers came by to see the number.
Everyone knew, and I began to realize that many were living vicariously through my journey to retirement.
This timeframe was safe, a few years to go, and all would be good. This would be the first ACCEPTANCE phase.
At-home, dinner conversation was about the “How do we accomplish this? What do we do then? What will life look like, and so on?” Then came the realization that Plan A, the real plan was not happening, “Why haven’t we hit the lottery yet?”
In those two-plus years, we went through several iterations of the “What to do, sans Lottery?”
First was the Full-time RV life and the excitement of realizing we could. Then came the whole defeatist thinking about my Macular Degeneration.
We spent several months looking at retirement communities in Florida.
This all leads to the DENIAL and even anger and depression on both our parts. Even thoughts of maybe I shouldn’t retire just yet. After all, there is safety under the employer umbrella. Boy-oh-boy, is there ever safety under that umbrella.
The talk slowly sparked again, and we swung back, admitting the idea of a retirement community wasn’t us. Who wants four walls and weekly pot-luck with a bunch of old people?”
We are not old, just aging gracefully.
“If we did the RV thing, could we do the eye treatments for Wet Macular Degeneration? We forged ahead, and as things happen, without real proof of that, we jumped with both feet when we saw a particular motorhome. We were committed now or should be. The Jury is still out on that.
We had purchased the motorhome and driven it home from Texas, you can read about that trip in a prior Blog. (#8- Getting the Motorhome home.)
About the time I returned to work, having gone through the arduous journey home with the BEAST, even I was doubting all of this nonsense. Marlene had had enough and exited the BEAST mumbling NEVER AGAIN. Well, not really, but it felt like it.
I forged ahead and made modifications to the BEAST for more comfortable living. No looking back now. Bunks, for kids, came out, and office space was built in. My writing location, when not out on a picnic table sipping a pina colada, is approximately 4 feet six inches wide by 6 ft long, roughly a closet. My man cave! Bathroom vanities were ripped out, adding valuable legroom. The typical RV toilets were replaced with ordinary throne room-sized RV toilets, yes they make them. Amazon is your friend!
As I reflect on my employment days left, there is apprehension and sometimes a little pang of “Am I doing the right thing?” Then I remember I locked into this endpoint six months ago in HR. Ok, easy to fix, on the long drive to work in the morning, I recite, “Do you prefer paper or plastic?” then a chorus of, “Welcome to Walmart.” Each rendition turns south when I add to the first. “Do you prefer paper or plastic, and if you are writing a check, get it out now and fill it out.”
“Welcome to Walmart,” turns into, “Welcome to Walmart, get your crap and stop back by so I can make sure you paid for it.”
Enough on the idea of my being employed long in retail.
Then the last five days arrive. Holy Crap. Did you ever feel the Universe was against you or something your doing? Try this on for size.
Two weeks ago, the one car we have and plan on turning it into a tow alone behind the motorhome started making a knocking noise. Did you know sparkplugs are fifty dollars apiece now? Made out of some frigging moon dust or something. Five hundred dollars later, it is working through a carbon build-up causing preignition. If that isn’t enough, my Retiree healthcare, which my now former employer graciously provides won't kick in until I have Medicare PART B in place. Breath Mike, just breathe. Then the Corona-virus infects the Stock Market.
Yes, the very same week, all this is happening, I watch unrealized capital in the 401K disappear like it never existed.
There is an unexpected ‘thing’ as you say goodbye to co-workers that you have been with for nye onto twenty years. It comes down to an empty cubicle, a handshake, or a hug, and you are gone. Anyone is replaceable!
They did throw a retirement party on the Monday of the last week, even invited me to it. Stories laughs, and a roast of me. Loved it.
If I have learned anything, it’s the small things that simply don’t matter. Let them go, and soon they too shall pass.
Indeed a fantastic twenty years have ended.