Friday, November 9, 2018

Too Young to Retire

During the last few months, I can’t count the number of people who have asked me if I am retired. (And for a guy who works in engineering sales, you’d think I’d be able to count to five.)

A couple of the people who asked if I’m retired had never met me before. After being introduced and then some idle chit-chat, they just blurted out, “So, are you retired?”

Being the self-conscious person that I am, I interpreted this question to mean: “You look like you’re at least 70, so let’s talk about senior citizen stuff.”

Well, I’m only in my early 60s. In fact, on my last birthday, I turned fifty-eleven, so I’m nowhere near retirement age — unless I worked for the government, in which case I would’ve been able to retire with a lifetime pension about a decade ago. But I live in the real world, so talking about retirement is way too premature.

No wait, “talking about” retirement is fine. Actually retiring is premature. In fact, according to those informational emails I receive from AARP every 30 seconds or so, I should’ve been talking about, and planning for, retirement a long time ago. Financial experts say that I needed to begin saving toward retirement at age 24, the exact moment I decided I could have a more fulfilling career in the private sector rather than taking a state job. Yeah, you’re right, for someone who works in engineering sales, at times I can be as dumb as bag of doorknobs.

Well, that’s all water under the bridge. As the old saying goes: “You can’t change the past, all you can do is cry about the future.” Umm, I don’t think the word “cry” is part of that old saying. It must’ve slipped out of my subconscious.

At this point, I’m not sure which is more disturbing: the fact I’m a couple decades behind schedule in my retirement planning, or that people think I look like I’m at least 70.

The thing is, I don’t really want to retire anytime soon. I like my job. Certainly, there are moments of frustration at the office (usually self-induced, when I have one of my “bag of doorknobs” moments), but overall, I find my work very enjoyable.

Also, during the last few months, I can’t count the number of people I’ve met who recently retired, only to discover retirement is not all it’s cracked up to be. (All right, I’ll take a guess: four people.) One guy told me he’s worried his savings will run out and so he obsesses over every nickel he spends. Another guy told me he’s bored and he spends too much time watching mindless TV. One guy told me now that he’s home all the time, he and his wife are getting on each other’s nerves. And the final guy confided in me that since he quit working, he feels fairly useless and he’s starting to think society wants him to die and get out of the way. (Gee, I don’t know why he would think that, other than the fact former Colorado governor Richard Lamm once said out loud what many others are thinking, that old people have “a duty to die and get out of the way.”)

In the interest of full disclosure, during the last few months, I can’t count the number of people I’ve met who recently retired and said they now are having the time of their life. (All right, I’ll take a guess: 50 people.) OK, so a lot of people do enjoy being retired. Fine. It’s just not for me. Now I have to get back to my engineering sales job. What do I sell? Bags of doorknobs.

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