Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Secret is Out

At last, I can blog about this. I've decided to retire. My last day of work will be June 30.

I've been sitting on this like a hen on an egg since the beginning of the year, when I stomped into the office intending to tell my boss I wanted to retire, and couldn't find him. It took 3 weeks for our schedules to mesh to the point that we were both in the office at the same time; and I refused to do this by email, or phone, or (God forbid) instant message (which is how an awful lot of work gets done around our office). Trouble is, there are people at work who know about my blog; so I couldn't even hint at it here until I had made the official announcement to the boss. And then, he wouldn't tell anybody until I had formally called the retirement people and started the process, and then come back and asked him, when are we going to tell other people. I wonder if he thought I'd change my mind if he gave me time to think about it. However, the immediate team has known for about a month now, and the word is beginning to spread to the rest of the department; so I can post it here for the amusement of my 3 readers.

I've been working for a living since March 1969; that's
38 years. With a few interruptions, of course: 8 months or so after the divorce in 1976; a month off between jobs in 1988; two 3 month sessions in 2001 and 2005 while I replaced one and then the other knee. The rest of the time, on the job: seventeen years as a librarian; two years running a small mail-order surplus business; nineteen years as a systems programmer. In the office every day at 9 if I could manage it, 8 if I had to; I'm not really an early morning person, although I can do it. Home as early as I could manage, not always very early. Going to bed early so I could get enough sleep, which meant I never had any time to read books. I can nibble at magazines and stop when it gets late; but with books I want to follow the story all the way out, and the next thing I know it's 11:30, and my tomorrow is shot. I could argue that I'm retiring so I can catch up on my sleep, I never seem to get enough; I'm tired now, my eyes are scratchy.

Soon, now, I get to answer the Great Question: who am I when I'm not working? As Satchel Paige might have said, who would you be if you didn't know who you was? If you think about this even a little bit, you realize how much we define ourselves by what we do for a living. I read a book or article once, I forget where; but someone was comparing the English and the Americans, and they said that when an Englishman wants to know who you are, he asks what your family is, and when an American wants to know who you are, he asks what you do. I've been a technician, a good one if I say so myself, for a long time now; what do I do next? "Retired" is an acceptable description for "what do I do", but it's sort of like, "out of here" - it isn't a destination.

I began to come to terms with this when I realized that what I really do next, is to figure out what to do next. It's time to reinvent myself again. The majority of those 38 years have been spent "working for the man" - for companies with a bottom line, mainly in the financial industry. Yes, even the library work: Google "Special Libraries Association" to see what kind of library job I had. (And imagine telling your accountant boss, in 1976 or so, that you were attending an SLA meeting after work...) I still don't know what I want to do next, but I have a list of possibilities, and not one of them involves working for anybody who makes a profit. I don't hate people who try to make a profit; I just want to try something else.


  1. Good for you. I seem to be taking retirement in unwelcome chunks, but there's something to be said for having enough time to do things you want to do rather than spending on things you have to do.

  2. Anonymous6:30 AM

    Gud on ya. Ah, the things you can do! Well, I sure know the things I could do. All the things I squeeze in bits of here and there because they are like candy sitting there in a bowl, and after a while you can’t ignore it even if you are watching your weight. I won’t be retiring for a while yet, largely because I have retired so often in the past. When you take off several years in a row to go sailing in far corners of the ocean, you don’t exactly pile up money in the bank for later. I raise a glass to your rediscovering you.

  3. Anonymous6:52 AM

    Well I’m only 36 so retirement is a long way away, but I’m already looking forward to it. I took the last week and a half off and found out it is a lot of fun to just hang out with my wife and work around the house. Enjoy and HAVE FUN!!!