While I was pre-occupied with the onerous work of shopping for groceries, I was accosted by a relatively young man who announced that he was about to retire. “Your mortgage paid up, and your credit cards?” I asked; he explained that he had that all sorted but his statement made me inquisitive and so, as is my wont, I asked around.
The following statements are not quotes. They are what I recall about the conversations that I had.
GEORGE: Rita and I had our mortgages and other debts all paid up so, when I pulled the plug and sold the business, we took off to the Caribbean and bought a yacht. We were going to spend our retirement cruising warm seas, but after two years, we sold that ‘hole in the ocean into which we had been pouring money’ and came home. Both of us were bored to tears and Rita told me I was becoming an alcoholic. We started up the present business.
DORIS: I thought it was going to be fun when I retired but, after a few months of being home with Archie, I had regrets. Only one of a couple should retire, otherwise you’re in each other’s face all the time.
MATTHEW: They say that work expands to fit the time available to do it and that’s the way it is when you retire. At first you do very little, then you get bored, then you take on more hobbies, volunteer work even and, before you know it, you need to retire from retirement.
FRED: We both were school teachers, Naomi and I. We were used to being together day in and day out for eight weeks in the summer so, at first, retirement didn’t bother us. However, I was in the dentist’s office the other day and a woman was yipping away to the receptionist about her husband not wanting to retire. By the look on the receptionist’s face, she too knew why the poor fellow was hesitating about leaving his job; when you both retire, you’ve got to learn to modify your behaviour before all hell breaks loose.
JACQUELINE: For me retirement is impossible. I don’t have enough saved up and no pension save the government O.A.P. and C.P.P., and they’re not very much, I hear. I’ll keep working, trying to keep up until I cash in my chips. That’s a dismal fact of life for me.
HENRY: When I retired, I kept feeling guilty about not working. I am no Christian but I was suffering from the Protestant Work Ethic — a horrible ailment. I went looking for other jobs to do but, gradually, I settled down to almost enjoying myself. Right now I am so busy, I wouldn’t have time to go to work. That’s a fact.
GEORGINA: Retirement is unnatural. If a person is healthy enough, what she needs to do, especially later in life, is to switch to another job.
JAKE: Joannie and I bought a super camper ready for my retirement (she had quit her job earlier) But, before I even handed in my papers, she died. There was no way I’d be off travelling on my own, so the camper sits there blocking my driveway and I go on working.
CHRIS: I was so pleased for my parents when Dad was able to quit his job. It was killing him and Mom too. But now the pair of them are driving me and Dot (his sister) mad. They keep visiting and staying over for days at a time. I reckon that a visit for two nights is long enough for anyone. Dot says there are times when she could kill them both. I hope she’s kidding but the visits are putting a strain on her marriage.
ME: When I first retired I was confused because the school board didn’t immediately replace me at Mount Baker Secondary School. I thought that it was because I had become irreplaceable but, I found out, it merely was because they couldn’t find out what it was I had been doing there for thirty years.