Not … quite ready … to … retire …
Guess what? I’m retiring!
My fellow Baby Boomers are retiring at a furious rate – about 11,000 each day, according to the Washington Post.
This includes high school classmates and many friends born from 1946-1964 (a long generation), who saved their money and can sleep late and do nothing if they wish, or visit Europe and Montana and Las Vegas and Sanibel Island, and set up shop in Arizona or Texas or wherever.
I feel sick, ‘cause I’m going to have to work ‘til I’m at least 105 in order to afford retirement.
Far off (hopefully), over the horizon, lies the day I wind up in a nursing home, paying $3,000 a month to watch the Twins and Vikings, play Bingo and Wii, and take the obligatory bus trip to Branson. Or I’ll wind up shivering in a nice big cardboard box with a perfect view of Target Field and U.S. Bank Stadium if I can’t afford the Old Folks Home.
I wonder what Hollywood stars and professional athletes are doing. Many of them have dropped off the media grid, so I imagine they’re done with the limelight and are sitting in their rustic mountain homes, smiling, feet up, never having to worry about money ‘cause they made a ton Back in the Day.
You want to hurt people like former baseball standout Alex Rodriguez, who earned $58,000 per at-bat and $24,786 per inning, according to howtheyplay.com, a website created by athletes and sports enthusiasts. He earned $480 million over his 22-year career, according to www.forbes.com.
And Bill Gates, who earns about $100 per second, and $45,000 more per hour than someone working minimum wage, according to quora.com, “a place to share knowledge and better understand the world.”
But most of us must keep working to pay the bills and feed the cats and ourselves.
Retirement seems impossible. I see the elders laughing and drinking coffee in the morning and the afternoon at the restaurants and the grocery store deli, and it’s all I can do to keep from sobbing. And I know I’m not alone in this boat.
“Your day is coming,” a friend said recently, giving me heart, but not totally allaying my fear of the future.
Maybe. Some day. I hope.
In the meantime, I can take heart in the fact that I’m able to work and pretty much enjoy what I do and make great new friends, whom A-Rod often lacked during his baseball career.
Folks say you need to keep working – do something – in retirement, or risk forced early entry to the nursing home or the cemetery.
So I trudge on. Have worked more than 30 years in journalism and about 49 years total, if you include mowing lawns and shoveling snow at age 9, making pizza and salads, doing the work study thing in college, working a wonderful summer at Glacier National Park in Montana, working several maintenance jobs, lifting heavy stuff for four evenings at FedEx Ground (too darn heavy), bailing hay, delivering pizza, pleading for your money from a call center, making rubber stamps, toting cardboard to be recycled in a catalogue warehouse, taking the temperature of canned veggies coming off the line at a local canning factory, working in food service, acting as a guinea pig in an ongoing Mayo Clinic project, and about 150 other jobs over the years.
A guy at the cardboard-toting job, who knew of my long history in newspapering, said he’d kick my kiester if he found out I spent a career toting cardboard or buffing floors in a canning factory.
That was long ago and far away, but he could still be out there. I’d better keep on writing.
We should all keep working. The thing is, of course, to be happy in what you do. And this is not a bad gig, getting paid to tell the stories of interesting people, places and things.
There have been some great days, a few awards, and great stories to cover over the years – the huge crowd cheering on a local girl as she won the wheelchair 400-meter event at the Drake Relays track meet in Des Moines, a feisty woman who was among the real Rosie the Riveters during World War II, an older gentleman reflecting on his long career in radio, me taking a ride with garbage-haulers on the back of an evil-smelling dump truck, trying to drive an 18-wheeler during a truck-driving competition in Iowa, and investigating a haunted coffee shop in International Falls, a haunted old schoolhouse in Farrar, Iowa, and a super-haunted old house in Villisca, Iowa.
It’s at this point, thinking back, that you realize you’ve forgotten about how much you earn and you’re thinking, once again, what an interesting career this is.
And did you make people smile? Did you make a difference? Was it all worth it? Would you do it over again?
Yes to all those questions, although some people have wailed and gnashed their teeth upon reading my stuff.
Retirement time isn’t close, but I can see it from here.
For now we write on, trying our best and having fun. It has to be fun, or it’s not worth it.
On we go.
Thanks for reading the DCI. See you around!