Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Pensioner's Tale

As much as I looked forward to retirement, I had never realized how quickly and comprehensively I would break from the life I lived when I was working. Sure I am still in touch with some of the people I spent most of my days with, but one of the things that has surprised me is how quickly so many people dropped from my life.

Sure there are folks whose connection with me was almost exclusively through the job, and it does not surprise me that we haven't stayed in touch. And there are others who are like me - intending to stay in touch but delaying it for so long it finally becomes embarrassing to pick up the link again. Believe me, it's a two-way street. I haven't been very good at making the phone call or dropping a line, either.

Based on what I've seen of some of my friends, I am pretty sure I could really improve this situation if I bothered to learn how to really use Facebook. But let's face it, if I haven't bothered to do it by now I'm probably not going to bother in the future.

I started thinking about this because I received a voicemail the other day from Kumar, a friend from an industry organization with whom I did a lot of work. He had moved from Oz but was back in town and wanted to take me out to lunch. I, of course, am permanently out of town. But since I didn't bother to let him know that, I can hardly expect him to know.

In retirement, this wonderful business tradition of breaking bread and catching up has just about vanished. I won't go so far as to say that there's no such thing as a free lunch, but at this stage of my retirement they are much fewer and farther between than when I was working. And now that I am a pensioner, free anything starts to look good.

And by the way, that title is official. Being on the road, I hadn't realized at the time that I formally became a pensioner earlier this month. In the first week of June my first-ever pension payment landed in our checking account. It isn't a big amount, and the next deposit won't be made for six months. But legally and financially, I have moved from just being an old fart without a job to being a full-blown pensioner.

So it is probably appropriate that the last vestiges of my work life are coming to an end. Two days ago I got an e-mail from Davy, who took over my job and immediately showed everyone how it should be done.

He copied me in on his reply to Colleen in Accounts who needed to know where to send the wage form you file with your income taxes. Davy's answer was brief enough: "If you put it in a bottle, seal it, and throw it in the harbour, it will wash up against the side of their cruise liner at some point. Given the extent of their wanderings, that's likely to be quite an efficient way of reaching him."

I wrote back to tell Davy where they could send my form, and added "Shouldn't the company have some sort of celebratory service to recognize its very-last-ever-totally-final-never-to-happen-again payment to me?" I had meant it as a tongue-in-cheek way of saying that the people currently in the company should be celebrating not having me (and particularly my expense account) around anymore.

But Davy, bless his soul, wrote back to say he would take LK and me out to a nice dinner the next time we were in town. I really had just been making a joke and wasn't fishing for a free feed, but I've got to say. Being a pensioner, I am especially looking forward to it.

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