Like some of the elders discussed in Part 1 of this series, I was forced into retirement before my time but luckier that it was before the 2008 crash. Laid off in 2004, my young colleagues were finding new jobs within six, eight or 10 weeks while my unemployment dragged on.
There were not many interviews and some of the hiring managers who were eager to meet me after speaking on the telephone, suddenly discovered the job they'd listed had been filled overnight when this 64-year-old face showed up the next day for the interview.
Because I had been employed as a independent contractor (probably illegally), I was ineligible for unemployment insurance and after a year, the only solution to my alarming debt that climbed higher with each passing month was to sell my New York City home and find somewhere less expensive to live.
That took another year. Then I scrimped by until I was eligible for full Social Security at age 65 and eight months.
My point in repeating all that (2005 posts about it here and here) is that I did not choose to retire and in fact, oblivious to the passing years, I had never thought about when I might stop working or made any kind of plan. I'd had no idea the day I was laid off with a dozen colleagues that I would not work again.
Other people, looking forward to their retirement, do plan for it. Like this guy, Tony Lopez, whose first day off the job was 16 March:
That video is from “Day One Retirement Story,” a promotional campaign for Prudential who would undoubtedly like to become your and my financial adviser. Ordinarily, I steer away from anything on this blog that would promote commercial services, but I think this is a well-done series with some thought behind it that applies to us at TGB.
One of the most common things I hear from other retired people is their joy in giving up the alarm clock, of no longer living on someone else's schedule. I agree and so does Nadine Peterson whose first day of retirement was 31 July 2011.
At the Day One website is a growing collection of audio, video and still photos with quotations from recent retirees who have been interviewed for the project. As you would guess, health, family and grandchildren are common topics of the retirement stories but the three folks who made these observations put a big smile on my face:
“Happiness is an inside job.”
“I am even considering joining the Peace Corps.”
“I'm going to start building another boat.”
In this video, Mujahid Abdul-Rashid, whose Day 1 was 30 July 2011, says the prospect of retirement made him realize that he had almost skipped the father part of life and now he wants to do the grandfather part a little differently. Here's his story:
I'm a bit jealous that I slid unknowingly into retirement and don't have a Day 1 after the job. Now, eight years later (has it really been that long?), this blog and through it, trying to demystify what getting old is really like, has become my job.
In the past few months, I've taken on a couple of volunteer positions related to aging with the city I live in and the county, but the blog and exploration of age remain foremost. Except that I don't get a paycheck, my days are not much different from when I worked, almost as though I've not retired and that's fine with me.
If I had my druthers, I would still be in my apartment on Bedford Street in New York City. I would like, too, to have been gainfully employed for at least an additional five or six years.
But life doesn't always go as we want and given the circumstances of the economic times we live in now, it would be a churlish of me to complain. Retirement just rolled a different way for me than for many others.
Now, it's your turn. If retired, did you plan how it would go? How's that working out? Or if you're not retired yet, what are your plans? Do you think you will be able to achieve them? And for both circumstances, how has the recession/depression affected your retirement?
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Stroppy: What Makes a “Readers' Write?”