Today is my first official day of retirement, even though it is the weekend and not a normal working day. I suppose the distinction is that yesterday, April 30th, a Saturday, I could have went to work and got paid overtime. Today, May 1st, I would be barred at the door. So how does it feel to be retired? I really don't know, I seem to be emotionally numb about it at the moment.
I used the flying condom method of retirement planning. That is based on the old joke, "did you hear about the flying condom, the one that got pissed off." I had never given retirement any serious thought. It was one of those subjects that I felt an undefined dread. "Well I will think about it when I turn 58, then 59 1/2, then 60, then 62, then 65. Always put it off to the distant future, don't maintain any cognizance of the finances, shudder and keep on working and don't think about it. It was sort of like estate planning or scheduling a colonoscopy. It was something that I should do but avoided like the plague. Then one day last September I got pissed off. I wrote a post about it at the time, Have Enough. Like that condom, I flew off on an uncontrolled trajectory with no planning, no goals, and damned little thought about where this may end up. I don't know where I am currently in that trajectory. I may have an impact with reality in the next hour, day, week, month, or year. All I know right now is that I am flying through the emotional and intellectual space-time with about as much awareness as that condom. If I am mid-trajectory, I should impact reality in November, seven months from now. When I hit, stand up, and dust myself off, will I be in the land of bliss or terror? I have no idea. I have heard of only two modes of retirement. "I love it, greatest thing I ever did!" or "I hate it, I wish I could go back to work." I have never heard anyone say "Well its OK. I could take it or leave it."
The last couple of days at work were weird. Friday, my last working day, all I had to do was sign the papers and leave. The company gives one a paid day off after the papers are signed. So that meant Thursday was technically my last working day. I had a couple hours worth of work: emails to write, computer files to copy and send to the appropriate people, and get my final affairs in order--turn in my cell phone and credit card. My boss had wanted to have a retirement dinner. I refused it and I asked him not to have any cake or pizza in my honor. I just wanted to slip out the door unnoticed. I also promised myself that I would not go around shaking people hands and saying goodbye.
There are some reasons for that besides the fact that I am a miserable anti-social bastard which is part of the truth. I have never enjoyed socializing in large groups. I like one on one and get increasingly uncomfortable as you add more people. I absolutely hate being the center of attention. I am a slinker to sidelines...a method of socializing that does not work well when you are the guest of honor. But the real problem with these affairs is that I have MS and I am very susceptible to unbidden tears even when I am genuinely not upset. I can weep over the stupidest things, and the wise ass critic in the interior of my mind looks on in amazement as I make a weeping ass of myself. The last thing I wanted to do was break down in tears after I had essentially said "take this job and shove it. I am retiring." So the plan was to get my little bit of work done and then lay low and slide out the door to be never seen or heard of again. Sextant who?
So what is the first damn thing I do. Try to turn in my credit card over at purchasing.
"Hey I hear you are retiring."
"Yeah, this is my last day, tomorrow I just come in and sign the papers."
"Are you excited?"
"No, I am kind of gloomy about it really"
"WHY?" (Thinking are you out of your mind?)
"I don't know."
"So what are your plans?"
"Well, I hope you have a long retirement."
"Yeah, but only if I am aware of it."
So that started it. I went around all day saying goodbye and shaking hands--exactly what I said I would not do. Around noon my boss called me (I should have turned in my cell phone first thing) and said there was a problem on my time sheet, and that I had to correct it right away. Next thing I know, I am standing in the technicians lunch room facing a huge cake. Oh shit. "Speech!" "Speech!" Oh double shit. Well somehow I managed, without a tear or lump in my throat, to give a 90 second farewell, thanks for the great support and so on. I then stuffed my mouth full of cake so I wouldn't have to talk any longer. They gave me a card with gift card inside. Then I resumed my handshaking rounds. I ended up trying to leave at 10 PM, when I got my few hours of work completed. "Ok grab your retirement card and go." I couldn't find the card with the gift card. I looked through all my stuff that I was taking home, my empty desk drawers, under the desk...not there, it is gone. I must of left it on top of my desk, and somebody took off with it. "You dumb son of a bitch, the guys collect money and you lose it." I was just about to leave, when I remembered that I placed this year's purchase orders in a file pocket and set it in my almost empty lateral cabinet. I looked in the pocket and there was the card. Only took 30 minutes to find it. On Friday, I had another round of hand shaking with some people I missed the day before, ate lunch with the guys, signed my papers and left after four hours. So I figure that I spent about 14 hours saying good bye and shaking hands. Now that is sliding out the door unnoticed.
Both Thursday night and Friday afternoon, I left the plant with no emotion, no looking back. I had felt much more emotion about the lab in Maryland and Augusta Georgia trips than I did leaving the plant for the last time. Well, as I said, I am mindlessly flying with no planned course. I don't know if I enjoy retirement or not. I am not excited, and I have no plans. And there you have it...the flying condom retirement plan.
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