the unexpected

by Bella Rum

Now he gets to wear jeans to work. I like it.

Don’t you love a day that drips with the good kind of unexpected? H thought he was going to work yesterday, but it turned out that he didn’t. Retirement does have its perks.  You work a little bit each week and then you don’t work a little bit. At least that’s what retirement looks like for H.

He was downsized about seven years and eight months ago – not that we’re counting. It was a transition for us and a little scary at the time. It was not a happy period, but it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened, especially for H. His job was relentless. It pretty much owned him, and I think he’ll actually live longer as a result of leaving that job five years earlier than expected.

I left my job when he left his, and we moved back home. We were fairly young, healthy and active and still are. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. He decided he still wanted to work (and really needed to for about 5 more years), but he didn’t want to work at anything that he didn’t want to work at… if you know what I mean.

So he found a “retirement job.” What’s that? It’s a job that usually pays an itty bitty fraction of what a real job pays; it’s a job that’s kind of fun or interesting to you (maybe no one else), and you only show up for it a few days a week. There’s no stress involved. Nada.

H is pretty typical of his generation. More and more baby boomers are working into their late 60s and 70s and perhaps beyond. This generation isn’t just floating down the river with violins playing in the background.

Retirement looks different today than it did for our parents. Living longer and healthier years, we’re looking for rich lives that are a mix of work, play, family and friends. That’s not to say that many of us don’t face some pretty significant obstacles – college tuition for our kids, caregiving for our elderly parents, and financial decline at the worst time of life due to the recent economic downturn in our country.

Many boomers will keep working [in retirement]. A survey by The Associated Press found that most boomers expect to retire around age 63 — but 66 percent of them expect to work for pay after retiring. Forty-three percent will do so because they want to stay busy, 27 percent say they’ll keep working to make ends meet and another 19 percent will work so that they can afford “extras.”

H loves working some but not too much. His job offers him what he needs most. It gets him out of the house, keeps him active (he drives a straight truck and delivers stuff), and it gives us another stream (more like a trickle) of income. I’m not pooh poohing it. No. No. It makes our many projects possible, and that’s very nice.

Due to a little mix-up, he didn’t work yesterday, and we were perfectly happy with that. It meant that we had another day to get the bathroom back together. It’s getting there. The painting is finished and the light fixture has been installed, but the new faucets and (smaller!) mirrors are still in the boxes.

Sometimes the unexpected can turn out to be a very good thing.