Working Dogs

I read this link from Insty with open-jawed astonishment yesterday because while I was out earlier in the day, I’d already started to put together a similar essay on the topic.

Maria D. Fitzpatrick of Cornell University and Timothy J. Moore of the University of Melbourne said they analyzed the mortality rates in the U.S. and noticed that many older Americans – but disproportionally men who retire at 62 – are affected by sudden increased rates of death.
“A lot happens in our early 60s. Some change jobs, scale back working hours or retire. Our health-care coverage may shift. We may have fewer financial resources, or we may begin collecting Social Security,” Fitzpatrick told The Wall Street Journal. “About one-third of Americans immediately claim Social Security at 62. Ten percent of men retire in the month they turn 62.”
The numbers, according to the study, show that there is a two percent increase in male mortality at age 62 in the country. “Over the 34 years we studied, there were an additional 400 to 800 deaths per year beyond what we expected, or an additional 13,000 to 27,000 excess male deaths within 12 months of turning 62,” the professor said.
The researcher blames the increased mortality on the retirement as retirees tend to withdraw from life and no longer see the point in engaging.

Quite honestly, I think I have a better take on this than the study. Here’s why.

I took an older guy somewhere during my early-morning Uber shift, and we got to chatting about retirement. He was in his early sixties and was thinking about retirement in the next couple of years or so — he’d reached all the retirement “qualifications” in terms of his age, length of service, and so on — and when I asked him what he was going to do after retirement, he said quite simply, “I don’t know.” He had no outside interests other than his work, he said, and had no hobbies or anything to keep him occupied when he would quit working.

This set off all sorts of alarm bells in my head, because I’d confronted the very same thoughts when I planned on retiring back in 2016 on reaching age 62 (which seems to be the “killer” age discovered by the researchers).

Worse than that, I either know men personally or have heard of many instances of men who have died soon — very soon — after retiring early. (When men retire at a later age, they paradoxically seem to live longer, as the study shows.) Sometimes, men die within six months of getting their gold watch, after many decades of working with little or even no time off for illness. Where I differ from the study is that I think I know the real reason why this happens.

We’re working dogs.

As long as men have work to do, we do fine. We have a purpose in life, we get up in the mornings with a day’s work ahead of ourselves, and this gives us a reason to live. It’s all tied up, I believe, in our inherent nature as providers and all that goes with it. When that activity stops earlier than expected — at 62, most of us have at least fifteen or even twenty more years to live — subconsciously we still feel that we are capable of working, providing and in short contributing to ourselves and others.

But when that ends, it’s as though a switch is turned off somewhere and our brains simply say, “Oh well, that’s it,” and we die. It may be that illness has been kept at bay through our industry and now given an empty playing field, so to speak, it takes over; or it may be that we do things that are more dangerous (the study mentions driving more as one activity), or perhaps we working dogs just feel useless and our existence, pointless.

It’s one of the reasons why I started blogging (i.e. writing) again after Connie passed away; all those years of caring for her had given me something to do, a purpose in life and now, faced with a life impossibly empty, I could well see why some cussed old fart would just say, “Ah, fuck it.” And die. Believe me, the thought of letting go crossed my mind often.

But this isn’t about me. This is about all men — and a couple of close friends withal — who are contemplating retirement, but without having any kind of backup work to do after they retire. And I’ll bet there are more than a few of my Readers who are looking down the barrel of this very gun, if not now, but soon. (My reader demographics skew towards cantankerous old farts because I am one, and we tend to seek each other out.)

And let me tell you, I fear for these men’s lives. We can’t handle boredom — not those men who have heretofore led active, fulfilling lives working.

Some men try to hold on, become consultants in their erstwhile fields, and either fail (because the market isn’t as great or as receptive as they thought), or they discover that consulting means selling yourself on a daily basis — and can’t bear the job because failure, in almost all cases, means (to them) that they are worthless. So instead of leaving the workplace as successes, they have to quit ignominiously as failures.

Even in our old age, we need a purpose in life, something that gets us out of the house and outside our own heads (the latter being a dark and unpleasant place, trust me on this) and something that will occupy our hands and minds. We are men: we are supposed to work.

And this is why, I believe, that men who retire at an older age are less likely to croak soon after retirement than the younger ones; their minds and bodies have finally said, “Enough!” — and they can let go, be inactive and just play with their grandchildren. But the younger ones are at risk, and they die, tragically in numbers disproportionate to the expectancy.

Some men just refuse to quit working and work until one day they keel over. Some men do charity work in their retirement, but others (e.g. myself) are just not cut out for that kind of thing. Some men take up hobbies which consume their time — just visit a model railroaders’ show and see the demographics of the stallholders — but I have to tell you that a hobby started late in life is seldom going to hold your attention for too long. Some men dream of adventure, and do stupid stuff like exploring the tropical rainforests — like hobbies, a lot of this stuff is best begun when you’re a young man — and sadly, what men discover is that even though they may have retired “young”, their bodies can’t do what a younger man’s can. More failure.

I don’t have an answer to this. I wish I did, but I just don’t. The sad fact of the matter is that without work, we die. And the younger we are when we quit work, the sooner we die.

I welcome any and all ideas, experiences, anecdotes and advice in Comments. It may all be for nothing; but what you say may save a life, and what you read may save yours. And if what you have to say is too personal, feel free to send me an email — I’ll anonymize the thing, take out all the personal details and post the distilled content later. Have at it… please.

This might be the most important post I’ve ever written.

30 comments

  1. I’ll probably die at my desk and that’s a good thing. I do IT work at an architectural firm, am currently sixty-eight and will work as long as the firm has a need for me or I lose my ability to do my job. My employer and three of my co-workers are of similar age. We’ve been together since the firm was formed in 1983. I call us the Four Horsemen. When the construction business cratered in 2009, the boss laid off the younger two-thirds of the office and kept us four on at 70% of our former pay rates.

  2. Could have been me, I suppose, as I spent a career in demanding and stressful work. I did have extra-work activities that I enjoyed which helped. What really made retirement easy, though was that I just hated my last job. This was 180 degrees from my normal attitude toward work. Stressful, hopeless, and I had to associate with many people I really didn’t like. So I just walked away and never looked back. I don’t really recommend this but it did leave me with the proper attitude to retire.

  3. I think you’re absolutely right, when men retire while there’s still gas in the tank it’s easy to wonder why you bother getting out of bed.

    I’m looking at this situation in a few years (I’m 54 now). I’ve been working full time as a computer programmer since five months after I graduated college in 1985 and have never once been unemployed. I think my longest time off in (so far) 32+ years was three weeks when I got married. I also worked part time in the computer center while I was in college. The thought of not working scares the crap out of me.

    The thing is that I’m growing tired of programming computers, so I’ve started considering what I might do for my next career. There are a few possibilities. The priest at my church wants me to become a Deacon (pauses to let laughter die down). I’m pretty handy, so I’ve considered being one of those Rent-A-Husband people who do small repairs, hang curtain rods, etc for people who don’t know how (get your mind out of the gutter). While I don’t know exactly WHAT I’ll do, I know I’ll do SOMETHING, and when the time comes I’ll know what that something is.

    On top of which I DO have hobbies which I’ve largely neglected for the last 30 years for lack of time/space/energy. I might actually BUILD the model railroad I’ve been planning in my head for decades. Plus I’ve always loved fishing (something I usually manage to make time for even now).

    My father in law retired when he was in his early 60’s, but he always said he was busier in retirement than he was while he was working. His last job was designing orthopedic implants (artificial knees and such), before that he worked for other companies where he designed things (you know that ceiling-vent thing made of concentric squares? That patent had his name on it). He traveled all over the world with his wife and grand children, he stayed physically active, and kept his mind sharp (he had a bunch of patents for things he invented on his own, none of which ever were commercially successful but he still put in the effort). He finally died last November at age 89, of Altzheimer’s.

    I think the biggest mistake people make is not having a plan on what they’re going to do, so lacking said plan they sit in front of the TV and waste away.

  4. I’m 51 and have no real retirement plans. When my wife brings it up, I suggest moving to the countryside of a free state and buying a farm – which I would actually work as a farmer. (and maybe build my own Hickok45 style range)

    She’s shocked at that idea and wants travel around and relax. I find the idea of a permanent vacation horrifying and unhealthy. I would probably drop dead after 6 months of such nonsense and be glad for it.

  5. I’d decided to die chairside; I’m an endodontist (ret’d). Not by my own hand, more likely by the hand of a patient not too happy with the outcome, one whose records had been buried in the archives twenty years past.
    One of my classmates, running into me at a funeral said, “What the Hell‘ you doing? Take your filthy lucre and get out while you still can.” Without further ado, on the closely approaching April Fools’ Day, I did; much to my wife’s dismay: “But we didn’t discuss it!”
    What to do?!!!
    Golf: I’m happy to say that I gave up that particular addiction at the ripe old age of twenty-one with a handicap of somewhere less than 20.
    Flying (to nowhere in particular, of course): even AOPA wouldn’t let me near a hand-held glider as a passenger; used to hold an SEL, but currently, the weight of the daily meds makes me suspect when traveling commercial.
    Skiing (used to be an instructor): catch an edge on one of my favorite double blacks (do the blues and greens: y’ gotta be kiddin’) and take a good tumble (which I’ve done many times) and I’m meat for the wheelchair: as you get closer to eighty, you find that old bones really don’t mend all that well.
    My wife tells me to join a “discussion” group. Yeah! Thirty stone-deaf Socialist-Progressives never interrupting you ☺
    Got no choice but to join the rest of the graying population at the gym trying to outrace the old shadow sweeping his scythe and you wonder why depression just might set in.

    1. I retired four years ago but not “early”, now pushing seventy as a widower of five years. I read, write, walk whilst toting a beefy Canon rig, smoke my pipes, hit the range occasionally, and amazingly I am on no prescription drugs (through no prescient planning of my own). Intensive reading and writing was something I’d wanted to do full time and never really had the chance until retirement. I’ll never make a dime from writing but neither would I make a dime from playing golf or fishing and the costs of scrivening are zip. Aging out but couldn’t be happier.

  6. I’m facing this myself. Legally, I can retire at the end of May…but if I retired to a rocking chair, you can start a pool on how soon I croak. My sister says six months, and I personally would not go over eighteen.

    The real question is whether to remain in Federal service (and increase my retirement pension significantly) or turn my coat and become a contractor (and increase my take-home pay significantly). And yes, becoming a consultant is a possibility, as I have some very unusual skills that happen to be in very high demand.

    At the same time, I’ve got some serious hobbies. Black powder shooting – I’m a top-flight competitor, but also in a leadership position at both the national and international levels. Which takes up some time.

    Or go into politics. Damn, I’m tired of dealing with twerps.

  7. It is difficult to imagine someone so Focused that he cannot see beyond the end of his current employment. Even a grocery stocker can see that he’ll have a few cans left after the shelf is full. Part of the problem may be hubris: some activity may be interesting and attractive but hey, it’s not real work; it would be demeaning to be a garry-wallah or a library book-stacker, or to push a broom. Thst would seem to be another case of Identity having more value than Activity or Product. Maybe there could be created a vast government program to publicize the role of Free Choice Workers, with a uniform for parades and specially marked parking slots.

  8. Another 62 year old programmer here. No plans to retire and hope I can work till I drop. I’ve a few more years to pay alimony and my grown kids are not self sufficient. At least I like what I do. I enjoy going to work. If I should be let go from work, I have no idea what I’ll do. And that keeps me awake at night (sometimes). Not sure how easy us old programmers can find another job. I also think about traveling (across the US only) via camper or motorcycle. That would keep me busy for years.

    Thanks for the post, and I’ll be reading more of the comments.

  9. I’m 65 and kinda-sorta retired, since I was, guess what, 62. I got nervous watching guys in my father’s generation die early and stupidly. A good friend’s dad went from being a VP with Exxon to a hopeless drunk in 3 years, dead a year later. Lots of the old boys went from a cocktail at 6PM to Fruehschoppen at 6AM. I too have a tendency to enjoy the sauce over-much and did not want to go there.

    I decided to work hard and plan carefully to keep active, despite the usual bodily bits ceasing to work properly – knees, ankles feet and eyes, plus too damn fat.

    I’ve always enjoyed handyman stuff so my first retirement project was fully renovating a beat up old house for number 1 son. Then I did a neighboring house for number 2 son. Then I got a good deal on another house on the same block, fixed it up and put in tenants. Then I did that again and am now half way through my fifth house. It’s a nice mix of physical work and paperwork keeping me busy 5 easy days a week, for about 2/3 of the year.

    The rest of the year we travel, 6 or 7 times, which we can do because I have been lucky to hire a good steady worker as my site guy. We increase the fun by careful planning for a cheap but good travel experience, part of which means we walk, no rental cars. We spent a week in London in September at a rented flat in Bloomsbury and walked 20000+ steps a day. I walk at almost exactly 100 steps per minute so that’s only a little over 3 hours, big deal. We had a 37000 step day in Rome in October.

    I have just forced my rubbery old legs to spend 3 hard days skiing. Part of the travel includes summer and winter trips to a cottage we built in the BC Rockies near the Montana border. More walking – hiking trails and logging roads everywhere, plus gardening and chainsaw work to thin our forest.

    I went back to riding motorcycles over my wife’s mild objections. We just got back from Mexico where I went bike touring down the coast from PV and up into the mountains.

    The Home Depot where I have a contractor’s account has something they call a ‘Pro Desk’. It’s staffed mostly by a bunch of over 65 geezers who got bored at home. They make decent money, know an awful lot and are valued by the customers, and the manager, a fellow I know. He likes to employ geezers because we know stuff, show up on time, sober and get the job done, even if we can’t see so well or lift heavy objects anymore.

    Stay active or die, probably of boredom.

  10. Plus, be careful out there.

    Two years ago I went out to warm up my car and noticed my neighbour Vern lying on the ground about 100 feet down the block. I was focused on not slipping on the ice so it took my brain a minute to process that this was a strange thing.

    I walked over and asked him if he was OK, which was pretty stupid as he obviously was not. He said he slipped on the ice and couldn’t get up. I still didn’t get it so I said “Here, I’ll help” and pulled on his arm.

    He yelled in pain I finally got it and called 911.

    Busted hip, new artificial joint implanted, 6 months of pain from surgery, therapy and a permanent limp.

    Age leads to fragility and we don’t like to admit it.

  11. I thought I would retire when I sold my business but I was so bored that even my pleasures were diminished. For all my life I had my oilfield, my bikes, playing live music and drag racing but all of my friends were still working and I was on my oddie knockie too much of the time. I took up project work, managing all or part of a rebuild project that had a defined start and finish. I like those and I get the physical workout (shipyards all over the earth) that keeps me somewhat fit. Then at the project end I relax and spend the proceeds any way that pleases me. Your working dog comparison is right on target. We work so long and hard we are conditioned to activity. Retirement feels like just living out the string.

    Wyatt: “How you doing Doc?”
    Doc: “I’m dying Wyatt. How are you?”
    Wyatt: “Pretty much the same.”

  12. A lot depends on your particular situation.

    If you love your job and can hardly wait to get up in the morning and hit it, then more power to you. As long as you enjoy it, don’t ever retire, or at least not until you are forced to.

    On the other hand, not all of us are in that enviable situation. Some of us are at the opposite end of that spectrum and *hate* our job – and most importantly, are way too old for a career change. In that case retiring as soon as possible is the right thing to do. (It’s much better to die of boredom than to croak on the job at a place you hate.)

    I am nearing 64 and I have been doing the same job for almost 40 years – the last 33 at the same company. I didn’t always hate my job. Indeed, for most of my career, I have really liked what I do. Things change, however. Sometimes corporations get bought out and sometimes the communists take over. (It is my belief that the last vestiges of pure communism left in the world mostly live within corporations.) A lot of things can happen that are beyond your control and sometimes all you can do is endure it until your next opportunity for exit comes up. Sometimes that opportunity is retirement.

    I plan to retire when I turn 65 – a little over a year from now. After that, I will do something else, probably part time, or something where I can set my own hours. I have hobbies and I have outside interests. And who knows, maybe in the next year, the corporate weenies will pull their heads out of their butts and the job will become enjoyable again, but I doubt it. The place has been taken over by Richard-Craniums that know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

    The other thing to remember is that when folks get into their sixties, sometimes your health takes a turn for the worse – even if you have been as healthy as a horse for your entire life up to that point. And you’re not able to do the things you used to do in your thirties and forties. It can be painful and scary climbing ladders at an age when you know that one slip and you are not only involuntarily retired, but an invalid as well.

  13. I’m not in a hurry to retire but neither am I short on things to do once that happens. Traveling with the wife, motorcycle riding, and wood working will keep me busy. And shooting, something that has been neglected since I finished school and got married in my 40’s.

    I don’t dislike my job but I doubt I’ll miss it much once I retire.

    The one thing I’m trying to do is to NOT get into the habit of putting off things I want to do because “I’ll be able to do that when I retire.” Even at the relatively young age of 56 I’ve lost enough close friends to know that there isn’t one of us who is guaranteed even one more day on this earth. And I feel bad for the people who put off all the fun stuff for after retirement in order to keep their noses to the grindstone, only to die before that happens.

  14. Dad retired about 10 years ago, and finally had the time to hang out with his other retired buddies.
    However, when grandma had to move in, he found a nice, easy job running the food ministry at our Church.

  15. Retired at 67 due to an injury.
    Had fun traveling until She became ill.
    Dedicated my life to her care until this year when she died.
    Now…I got nothing, and don’t really want anything.
    Shooting, reloading, short trips to the coast is about all that interest me any more.
    I try not to be down…but fuckit.

  16. I turned 62 in January. I retired this month. I’m fortunate in not needing to collect SS for a few years, and I think I have plenty to keep me busy (wife thinks I retired to become a carrier of things for her…) So this conversation is of great interest to me. I plan to revisit it often.

    One routine I’ve developed (am developing) is to walk to the local library (1.5 miles away) and read the Wall Street Journal three or four days a week. It’s good physical and mental exercise. I also am remodeling my basement / reloading room, and the garage is on the list. AND I have aged in-laws and Mom to lend a hand with.

    Great topic, Kim. Thanks for bringing it up. 😉

  17. Well its not just me…..

    I pulled the plug the first time from a government job (USPS) at age 56. I got my retirement 10 years ago from the old Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) with 34 years of service including my four years in the navy. I was actively looking for another job because I felt that I was way too young to spend the day sitting around Mickey Ds drinking coffee with the other old farts. I spent about two months catching up on the “honey do’s” and realized that I’d better get out of the house to prevent a murder. The wife was going to shoot me or I was going to shoot her. So I went back to my former employer as a contractor and with my retirement and pay I was doing what was essentially the same job as before for a $25K raise. We used the extra money to get ourselves out of debt – paid the house and cars off.

    I’ll be 66 in June. I have enough quarters in to be able to collect some Social Security but it won’t be what I’ve earned from the last 10 years on the job because I make “too much” from my CSRS retirement. That’s a fight for another day.

    Right now my plan is to walk away the second time on July 1. The wife – who is 70 – is working part time and collects Social Security from when she went out at age 62. I’ve run the numbers several times and we’re in pretty good shape financially. We have a good bank balance for emergencies, a decent income that hopefully won’t “run out of money” unless the .gov goes under (which it might), and a third world army’s supply of ammunition if things go to shite.

    The big question is what will I do with myself after July 1. I’ve got a couple of options. I’ve worked as a reserve deputy sheriff for about 26 years and I’m CO of the reserve division. As long as the high sheriff will have me, I can put in almost as many hours as I want down at the office. At my advanced age I’m not about chasing 18 year old bad guys (although I can still shoot pretty well) but somebody has to answer the phones, interact with the good people of the county, maintain schedules, work on the budget, and do all of the other stuff that nobody notices. I have a small office with my name on the door and I suspect that I’ll be spending more time there if only to get out of momma’s hair.

    I’ve worked on a couple of Habitat for Humanity homes over the years and found it to be a pretty rewarding activity. Since I’ll be available I’ll see what I can do to help. I was a building engineer many years back and still know how to swing a hammer and run a saw. Now I’ve got an air nailer so the hammer part will be lots easier.

    I think that I’ll be looking at lots of charity type projects. God’s given us beans, blue jeans, bullets and beer – food, clothing, a way to defend ourselves, and enough extra to enjoy life. Now I think that its time to give back a little. We can stay busy with that.

  18. Great comments above I am 73 this year, we all have our own story to tell. I retired without meaning to when our retail store went under in 2005, my wife and I had, what we were told was one of the finest fountain pen stores in the US in a great space in Dallas, I had bailed out of corporate retailing in the early 1990’s and thought I was in a good position until my mid 70’s and then could sell our store. So much for plans our sales stayed level after 9-11 but our expenses went up. I was 60 years old and not ready to stop working so I went to work part time for Montblanc Pens as a trainer.

    We had already downsized to a smaller hours and had just about enough money and little debt but I jumped at a chance in 2009 to go to work full time repairing Montblanc pens when they move their facility to the DFW area. I made it four years, until I fell getting out of a jeep on a hunting lease, caught myself on the mirror to keep from rolling downhill and tore up the nerves in my left arm. I held on for four months hoping to come back but I could never do the work without a lot of pain, the arm is good now five years later. I loved that silly job, the pay was great, excellent benefits, and because of two bouts of cancer my health insurance cost saved me over $1,000 per month, that alone was worth it. I also loved not being the person signing payroll checks and making tax estimates.

    Now at 73 I feel blessed, survived cancer several times so I figure I am in bonus time. For me having a calendar with events and trips scheduled is important, I organize a Dove Hunt every opening day and have about 25 people show up every year, this is our 24th year and we will be in Abilene this year. I shoot Steel Challenge with .22’s the first Saturday of every month. My childhood best buddy from kindergarten through high school, best at my wedding first time around and all that retired from Seattle to the Texas Hill Country 30 minutes from me and when the weather is decent we meet for skeet on Friday mornings, shoot two rounds of skeet and then go have coffee and gripe about the world.

    I usher at my church and help our with Stephen Ministry which is kind of a one on one with a person in need. My wife and I have a great Sunday School class with discussion each week, we have to study and prepare and I am the stand in teacher when our main teacher, a retire Lt. General from the Air Force is out. On Monday mornings at 7:30 I drink coffee with a group of men at the Dienger a coffee shop in a 125 year old store downtown, we have an eclectic group of men, a retired judge, retired college music professor, retired corporate pilot and few others who take time to visit.

    Each summer I try to make a nice driving trip in my pickup, last year Savannah GA, the two years before that Gunnison and Basalt Colorado, sometime just me and my dogs and sometimes with my wife. Two weeks from now we will drive eight hours to meet my son in Oklahoma City where he will compete in 3-Gun with my nephew. The first of May the NRA convention is in Dallas an my son-in-law will be working there with his company so I will go hang out with him.

    That is a lot of rambling crap but that is what my life has become, my wife tutors math four days a week in the afternoon and early evening and I cook our meals. I grill outside all year long and try to eat healthy stuff. We were lucky, we kind of slid into home plate with enough money, after selling our Dallas house, to have a paid for house, two older decent, well cared for paid vehicles, Ford F-150 and Toyota 4-Runner and no debt. Enough income stream to live simple lives and I let my cloths get run down so I can build up my guns and ammo play money account. I also have a decent amount of wood working tools and try to have a project going in one side of the garage, right now a 3 1/2 x 10 foot picnic table for the back yard. I need stuff to do and a reason to get up every morning at 7:00, make my coffee and have an interesting day. This is too long, sorry about that.

  19. We love the TX hill country. We’ve done several mini vacations in Fredericksburg and its a great town. A couple of years ago we attended the Christmas Tree lighting at the LBJ state park in Johnson City. The service was openly religious with Christmas carols, Bible readings and prayers by a Baptist minister and Catholic priest, and a nativity display. After the ceremony I told the park director that I was surprised (and happy) to see such an open display of tradition and faith in a state run facility. She replied “Well, we’ve found that God still lives in Texas.”

    If I was ever exiled from Oklahoma I’d hope that the Hill Country could take on another inhabitant.

    1. We do a Dicken’s on Main Street here between Thanksgiving and Christmas where one mile of downtown is blocked off for foot traffic, all sorts of Church Choirs sing on the Plaza and yes, “God is Still Alive in Texas”. Our town Boerne is full of churches however, historic note, the Germans who came here in the 1850’s were so tired of European churches that they made a law that there could be not church in the city limits and enforced that law for a number of years.

  20. Having watched this a hundred times, with family members and co-workers, you are nothing if not correct. And here’s the secret: Do something for someone else. Those men who I have watched retire and who have thrived post retirement have all gone on to do some sort of volunteer or proto-volunteer work. And it takes very little. One pushes wheelchairs and gurneys around a VA hospital. One volunteers as a docent at a museum. One plays all day with the dogs at an animal shelter where elderly animals have been dropped off to die. And one, failing to find something he could do, began his own volunteer placement organization.

    I watched two men of a similar age retire within literally weeks of one another. One sat down and opened a bottle of Tequila, and kept doing that until he didn’t wake up one day. The other is as spry as ever, though his memory fails him, and he has to be driven to work by his wife, he spends his time giving back to the people who gave so much to him, mostly sitting and listening to the stories of old war horses who have nobody else to talk to. This is what I will do, if I am ever blessed by living long enough to retire.

  21. It’s a question I’ve been asking people, in an unrefined way, for the last 20 years: ‘What does one do when one retires?’ I remember being unemployed, and I would sleep later and later in the day, and basically doing nothing.
    I’ve had a personal theory, that there a balance between time and money. If you have lots of time, you don’t have any money, and if you are working and earning money, you have little time to use it. I would assume that when I’ve earned (and saved) 30 years of money, I could retire and use what I’ve earned and what I’ve bought but not used to its fullest.
    I too am not sure what I’ll do when I retire. Will I play the video games of my youth? Watch TV and movies? Travel? (Millenniums are traveling a lot more in their youth than previous generations) Serf the web?

    I wonder if this was a question the Las Vegas shooter was asking himself?

  22. Wow. Kim, I would say the most important post you wrote was the one after your wife died. That would have been the hardest.

    But this one has really tapped a vein. I am not sure when I will retire as what I do does not require a lot of stamina. I am 62 so I can but I don’t want to yet. I do know a lot of guys that retired 30 years ago and they all do something. Might be related to what they did or not. but you need to keep active.

    I have been think Uber might be good to do in retirement. Just have to see. I think 4-5 more years will pretty much cure me of the corporate world. We will see.

  23. Simple start: I agree with your major premise — we’re working dogs. I’m one for aphorisms. (Oh, you didn’t notice?) Back in my ’40s, when others in the rockmusic bidness were talking about retiring (We’re all of an age, I think; I’d guess 90% of the music business tour and production managers are within a year or two either way from my age.) There was a lot of “Move to Florida (or Arizona or Australia) and play a lot of golf.” That sounded to me like a death sentence. Yep, I coined that, “Retirement is a death sentence; keep working.” You’re like a shark. You have to keep moving — keep the water moving over the gills — or you suffocate.

    I meant to keep working and not draw Social Security until I was 70. Then, as it happened (and through all fault of my own), I was forced out. Had to retire due to lack of workliness. Took stock. With my genetics, (and not entirely disregarding diabetes and being obese, not to put too fine a point on it), I can reasonably expect to live at least to 90. Or, if that’s optimistic, I’d feel really cocky to die younger having planned for longer and leaving a rich heritage behind me. But go with that. That’s another 25-30 years of life. Hell! That’s enough time for a whole other career! What’s it gonna be, big guy? Sit around the house and mope yourself to death? Or get up off your ass and do the fuck something?

    Still working on it. Plan is the something something.

    M

  24. I retired at 61 after being laid off from a job I was starting to hate. Although I had loved the job enough to work 50-60 hours a week prior to new management. Never got along with the new director and when I was laid off (fired), I was not old enough or had enough points to get a full pension. But it was enough money to live on since I couldn’t find another job. Early retirement with a reduced pension was scary at first, but once I got SS at 62, I was getting as much take-home pay per month as I was when I worked full time, except for no health insurance coverage. Thankfully I have rarely had health issues other than a cold. I hope to survive in a healthy state until I qualify for Medicare.

    It has been 4 years and I love it. I get up every day and do ceramics for 8-10 hours a day. I sometimes make books or make paper. I kid that I left one full time job and started another one–making art. I have never sold a thing, but I don’t make things to sell, I make them just to please myself. I spend several hours every day reading about 20 blogs, including this one of course. But I only read them at the end of the day as a relaxation. Between semester breaks from my university classes, I sometimes waste a few days away by watching TV or surfing the web. That gets boring after a few days and I am back to making things. Although I welcome the break in my routine for a few days.

    It is people who don’t have hobbies or other good interests that get bored and die early. I keep hoping I have at least 20 years to keep making things. But I was making things while I worked full time so it wasn’t much of a transition. I have always had the urge to make something–pots, books, handmade paper, self-published several books on landscape architecture and plants. Luckily, I retired from a university and I can take as many classes as I wish for about $150 a semester. Next I am moving onto classes in neon, letterpress and sculpture. My only problem is running out of room to store all the crap I make.

    I also keep busy with cooking, even though I live alone. My next goal is to learn how to make a decent baguette at home since there isn’t a good bakery within miles of my place.

  25. Everyone commenting is fixed on the word, retirement.

    I was lucky(and cursed) to fall in love with glass when I was 18. Walking through an antique store in Lower Downtown Denver, I was enchanted with old leaded glass windows. I learned how to work with glass, opened my own studio and by the time I closed it in 2001, I had grown to 12 employees and I was doing huge art glass projects nationally in casinos, hotels, very high end residential, even quite a bit of work for Disney.

    The work had become more about HTF am I going to fabricate this huge job, and how will I transport it across the country, and how will we get it installed 30 feet off the ground and less about my creative input.

    I sold my buildings and since have been working pretty much alone creating the finest leaded glass(IMO) I’ve ever come across. I make my own glass and am a master hand beveler. I sell some new work and do a lot of restoration but the sad fact is, leaded glass is out of vogue. Too bad for me, I guess.

    But I still get up every morning eager to get to my studio(20 feet out the back door, pretty cool), check what I ran last night in my kilns, push forward on my current commissions…whatever.

    Retire? And do what? I’ve traveled just about every where in the world I’ve wanted. Go back some where? Nah. Fish all day? RV it? I have to admit, w Texas sux for me as I do miss snowboarding, great hunting and mountain bike riding I left 3 years ago in CO to open a gallery(now closed) in Midland when oil was $145. My gal is looking to get back to Canon City so maybe.

    In the meantime, the next few months are very pleasant before the fucking flies descend and I have to work nights and sleep days because running 3 kilns and a glass melting furnace during the day in the summer in w Texas is pretty damn hot.

    BTW, 66, perfect health(knock on wood) push the iron almost every day and get to Big Spring for a nice long swim every week. I advise all older men to look into TRT too.

    Every day is a gift and I thank Him every night as I drift off. I don’t know what happens after you draw that last breath but it’s been quite a party and I think I’ll miss it.

  26. 68 and still working at my “dream job” – which is IT in a small organization. I do a little of everything, server-side, help desk, IT purchasing, equipment roll-outs, network, and (least favorite) printers.

    My wife is 55, and has been with her employer for 35 years. She loves the work (Purchasing), most of the people, but is beginning to dis-like the corporate culture. We are looking at retirement options for her.

    Now that the kids are grown, I’ve returned to my first hobby – motorcycles. I’ve started riding again for the first time in 25 years.

    And the future? I’ll be forced to retire no doubt, either due to physical stuff, or I’ll let my automatic mouth run free once too often.

    I seem to write fairly well, so I’ll probably pursue that a little, just to see if I like building story lines/characters/dialog etc. If I do like it, that’s cool.

    I still like to watch the sun come up, I play with the grandkids, and I hold hands with my wife when we’re out walking.

    And I smile a lot….

Comments are closed.