One of the advantages of being retired is that I no longer have to do a lot of things that the unretired still have to do. Our friend Jim, for example, took off his wristwatch the day he retired from teaching, about 15 years ago, and to my knowledge has not put it on again. If he’s like me, that’s because he can’t find it, but my point is still true. He is free from clock time. Maybe that’s why he was a half hour late for dinner, but I didn’t have anything else to do, so who cares? And yes, a number of youngsters don’t wear watches except as retro decorations, but they are always playing with their cell phones, so that does not count as freedom.
Being retired also means you can let go of the weekly calendar. Kim and I were worried that we were, perhaps, drinking too much, so we decided to limit our drinking to weekends. Of course, that means Friday, Saturday and Sunday since we don’t have to go to work on Monday. But then, just the other night – it was a Tuesday – Kim said to me, “Does it feel like a Friday to you?” It did.
Kim’s dad retired and moved to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where he lived on 180 acres of woods. He told me that one of the good things about retirement is, “You don’t have to deal with assholes any more.” Kim’s dad did not own a computer, so he never had to phone Comcast for tech support, so I’m not sure how well his statement applies to me. Besides, I still have to deal with myself on days when I’m the one who is the asshole.
Retirement also means I no longer have to pay attention to my wardrobe. No more neckties, though if truth be told, I gave up wearing a necktie ten years before retiring from teaching after a student evaluation mentioned that my ties were “ugly.” But now I’m pretty much into blue jeans every day, and, luckily, every shirt looks OK with blue jeans. I don’t go quite as far as my friend Rob, a retired attorney, who always wears blue jeans and a blue denim shirt as a matter of principle. (Rob is a man of principle, and this is one of them.) Kim is not altogether comfortable with my wardrobe neglect, as she is the one who has to look at me or be seen with me, so she occasionally helps me dress, which only confirms that I don’t have to pay attention to wardrobe.
The alarm clock is no longer part of my day – except for days when Kim wants to go out to photograph birds, or perhaps butterflies with dew on their wings. This is OK once in a while. We gave away the alarm clock in a garage sale and now rely on our cell phone alarm clock app when we get it to work. When it does work, we still have the option of turning it off and going back to sleep.
Kim and I don’t usually have to worry about ending breakfast. The second cup of coffee is mandatory, usually taken while watching birds from the breakfast table and not taken while running out the door.
Many retired people remember that when they were working they tried to make a good impression on a boss, a client, a colleague, or in my case, my students. No more! Now I occasionally strive to make a good impression on my wife, but when that fails, we can always declare it a weekend, and the problem usually disappears.
Along with the list of things I no longer have to do, there is, of course, a list of new things I do have to do. This list varies with the individual, so I can only suggest a few items on my new list:
· Hug Kim every morning.
· Taste the food.
· Enjoy the sky.
· Follow my sports teams.
· Watch Netflix.
· Walk, when possible.
· Garden, but not too much.
· Call your friends.
Cary Bell (firstname.lastname@example.org) comments:
Thanks again for the weekly fun read!
I particularly related to the retirement wardrobe. I always wore a suit and tie as a principal and I gladly gave them away to the Salvation Army.
I had enjoyed garnering students' attention by wearing a different colorful
or novelty tie each day of the school year. So I had various holiday ties, patriotic ties, tourist site ties of places visited in my travels over the years, and copies of famous art works. I dumped these in a clothing drop box. All but a few of my favorite "Save the Children" ties that were actually designed by real kids.
If I were clever like my grandmother who raised me on a farm in Virginia and had the practical skills so common to her generation of southern black women, I could sew these ties together and make a fabulous heirloom quilt. If I get a sudden burst of retirement energy, I may just do this. I see they have a quilting class at my local public library, and maybe I'll enroll.
From Angie George:
Could identify. My hardest decision some days is what to eat for lunch.