It occurred to me the other day that don’t know anyone who has successfully retired. Nobody. I’m not in touch with anyone from work who has retired – they just seem to vanish from the face of the earth never to be heard from again. So, how about my parents, grandparents, or other relatives? Certainly, someone in there sailed off into retirement bliss. Nope. Nobody. They were all terrible at it – those that even gave it a shot.
My Mom and Dad had no use for retirement. My Dad was forced into retirement very much against his will. He had a very successful business that he sold with the intention of staying on to run it for the new owners. That lasted about a year before they tossed him out. He used every bit of energy he had after that trying to make a number of jobs work and running a small business. None of it really clicked and by the time he decided to give it up, he was done. All he had was a little energy for projects around the house, but there was no retirement fun.
My Mom, on the other hand gleefully worked until she could no longer drag herself into an office. By the time she stopped working most of her friends were either dead or non-ambulatory. So, she spent her “retirement” years sitting in a chair watching TV until her body gave out.
My Grandparents were no better. My Grandmother had a degree from William & Mary but didn’t work after she got married. She had retirement plans to travel but my Grandfather had other ideas. He retired from the FAA with a nice government pension – and immediately went back to work teaching management at Atlanta Technical College. He eventually retired from that job with another pension – and immediately went back to work as a consultant running management training for Georgia Power. He finally gave that up when his health started to fail. He and my Grandmother never did take any of those trips they planned. Not one.
Movies Are No Better at Depicting Retirement
Without good role models in real life, maybe I can find inspiration in the movies. Well, the cinematic world is not rife with good retirement role models either. You get the occasional curmudgeons like Bill Murray in St. Vincent:
Vincent: “I’m showing him how the world works. You work, you get paid, you drink.”
Maggie: “Are you drinking alcohol?”
Vincent: “I honestly don’t remember.”
Or Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino:
Walt Kowalski: “Oh, I’ve got one. A Mexican, a Jew, and a colored guy go into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, “Get the fuck out of here.”
Well, that doesn’t feel like they are having the time of their lives. They’re not exactly being chased by the fun police.
Or, you get the tragic cases who just wanted to be left alone but it never works out.
John Wick just wanted to hang out with his wife, but after she died they blew up his house, stole his car, and killed his puppy. And Wyatt Earp must have said, “I’m retired,” a dozen times. But he hadn’t been in Tombstone five minutes before he took another job and by the time he actually got to retire, they had pretty much killed everyone he knew.
So, I’m on the lookout for good retirement role models. Maybe with the new round of departures from UPS I’ll have some smart people to learn from.
In the meantime, maybe these guys have it figured out. Is the beard mandatory?