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My View: I’m enjoying the view from the retirement bridge

By D. John Bray

Retirement is a double-edged sword for many individuals. Unless you spent your working life in an occupation you disliked, many folks are ambivalent about leaving a job and the people they enjoyed working with forever.

Many retirees miss the daily challenges of the job, solving problems and having the satisfaction of accomplishment.

All of us realize the day will arrive when we must actually retire and embark upon a new chapter in our lives. On one hand, you may look forward to many aspects of retirement: meeting your buddies at O’Daniel’s at noon to socialize, getting to more Bills, Bisons and Sabres games, more golfing, more time on the Harley. But, on the other hand, many do miss the daily routine.

From the moment you’re born, you follow a routine. Feeding, changing, sleeping; then it’s off to school for the next 16 to 20 years, maybe the military and then into a job for 40 to 50 years. All in a routine; it becomes part of your life.

The day the routine stops, some people are lost. They needed that structure, and the adjustment to a non-routine life is very difficult for individuals who have been programmed for it. I guess the routine offered security for them.

The absence of daily “socialization” with associates at your job is a major factor for some who are dissatisfied with retirement.

Then there’s the job identity thing. For decades, psychologists and sociologists have pointed out that: “You are what you do.” In America, strangers will meet and after a few minutes ask: “What do you do?” You are identified by what you do and what your job is. And, in most cases, you become your job. Most people do not say, “I ride my motorcycle, I work out, I study the history of Hungary, I study craft beer.” They describe their job.

For so many, when retirement arrives, your identity disappears as you pack up your boxes and leave the building. It has a devastating effect on some.

You can find retirees working part time at the big-box hardware stores and a variety of other commercial places because “I had to get out of the house and talk to people,” or simply because “I miss meeting and talking to new people” and “I can’t just sit home and do nothing.”

You just cannot escape your routine of working for decades with people cold turkey.

It is not to say that many individuals do not enjoy their retirement. They balance it with satisfying activities with their spouse, friends, church, volunteering and, of course, mall walking.

Yet most people will admit to times of missing “some of the good things” at their former workplace, which is normal. We all miss the good times in all previous times of our life.

The newfound freedom in retirement has some downsides. A friend, who was an avid golfer and played whenever he could escape the office, was preparing to retire near a golf course and I said to him that he could now golf whenever he wanted. He replied, “Yes, but it won’t be as much fun.”

The old adage “if something is always available it is less desirable” is true. (Beer is excluded.)

Some retirees join the ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) organization and meet regularly at a local coffee emporium where they spend hours telling lies.

Of course if you are married, your spouse will find many work activities to keep you from getting depressed about retirement. Or maybe it will just make you more depressed.

But there is a sliver of hope. I am starting the REMAP (Retired Elderly Men At Pubs) Club. Join now.

When last seen, D. John Bray, now retired, was applying for a greeter’s job at a club in Fort Erie.
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