Like most people, I always considered myself the young person in the room. No matter how many years I piled up, it always seemed like other people were older.
I’m not talking about suddenly finding myself surrounded by a group of teenagers and thinking I was one of them. I wasn’t that delusional. It just seemed like every time I went to a government meeting or talked to people in law enforcement or wherever this job took me, I was always younger than everybody else.
The people in charge were always older than me, I guess you could say. And it always seemed right. Nobody my age or younger than me should ever be in charge.
Now, though, a quick, very unscientific run through my mind of local elected officials, at the county level, shows maybe two of them are older than me. The inmates have finally taken over the asylum and hopefully will not run it into the ground.
Another side affect of getting into the territory where your age begins with a 5 is that retirement suddenly becomes a word you look at beyond saying, “Retire? Shoot, I’ll be working until the day I die, then they’ll dig me up and tell me I’ve still got bills to pay!”
That seems funny when you’re young(ish) and the lightest amount of work doesn’t get you down. But when you collapse at the end of the day and you look back and see that, physically speaking, you didn’t do anything, retirement suddenly becomes something that makes you stroke your chin and say, “Hmm. Let’s think about this.”
And, of course, now that you’re thinking about it, the Associated Press releases a poll showing that 25% of people plan to never retire. Of course, financial worry is one of the main reasons for this, but another big reason is that people simply don’t want to stop working.
You always hear of people saying they feel pointless when they stop working, that their life loses purpose and they end up just hanging around until they die. I supposed that could be true. It seems like a personality trait to base your self worth on your work, but I can see myself not doing this one day and by about day four I’ll start to realize as little as I mattered before, I really no longer matter when I’m not doing it anymore.
The photo that accompanied the Associated Press poll story showed a woman who, at the least, had to be in her late seventies working a McDonald’s counter. Now, a job is a job and I’ll never insult what you do, but I can’t imagine working in a fast food restaurant and having to deal with the beast known as “the public” is anybody’s idea of how they pictured life as you near 80.
Another problem with retiring is simply not being ready for it. I once saw a “financial expert” nearly put a TV news anchor down for the count when she said people should have at least a million dollars put aside if they want a comfortable retirement.
I like to joke that you can’t save what you never had, but most people will, over the course of an average work life, make a million dollars, but you know what they’ll also do? Spend it to live! And, that’s gross pay. Making $1 million net dollars will be a struggle for a lot of us.
It used to be, back when both myself and the world was young, that you retired at 65, died at 71 and everybody remarked on what a good, long life you led. Now, you work until 75 at which point your body just says “No more,” and the next thing you know, you’re 88, living with one of your kids and their spouse really doesn’t want you there.
There’s also the part about old people crowding young’uns out of the job market, and that’s probably somewhat true, but I doubt too many 30-year-olds are upset because Grandma is hogging a job at Burger King.
As for myself, I’m gonna try to stick to the old ways of retirement. Have everything paid for by the time I retire, then never leave the house until I kick off around 72. That’ll be about the time Momma decides she can’t live on her own anymore, and I’ll just leave the wife to deal with that.