THE act of personal hygiene (showering) when you're creeping up on three score years and ten means that you've been doing it for quite some time and the mind is inclined to wander. Nowadays, I use the time to cogitate. A recent result of same was to wonder when retirement becomes a goal in our working life. I should state that I loved the work I did for the last 30-odd years of my working life but having “survived” three company acquisitions, I was getting a bit tired of it.
I used to annoy my last employer by stating in my annual assessment (which the employee did, not their manager!) that my plan was to retire in xx years in the knowledge that I had performed my duties to the best of my ability and to the level required by the company's customers. I changed the number of years as I came closer to my goal. I was the head logistics analyst responsible for the hardware support of customers such as Qantas, Westpac, Woolies, etc., so I thought my target would be appreciated. However, it could have become the reason I was made redundant at the age of 62. Some employers have no sense of humour.
My penultimate job was with a company whose office was in an industrial area near Olympic Park in Sydney, far from shops. As a result of the isolation, some astute companies brought their wares to us. One was a book wholesaler with a huge truck. A lover of books, I was entranced. With retirement in mind, I began my collection of "things to do" books when the time came for me to hang up my Excel spreadsheets.
The Encyclopedia of Games would help me entertain friends and relatives on cold winter nights. Not sure what I had in mind when I bought Bricks, Pavers & Tiles or Paths, Steps & Patios for the Garden. Truly Tiny Gardens is a total waste of time at my place in Wonthaggi but How to Paint & Draw is still an option. One book that I take down from the shelf occasionally is The Writing Book by Kate Grenville but it reminds me too much of school. I much prefer to get stuck into a good mystery that someone else has written.
After my forced retirement, I moved down to Wonthaggi where, in some sort of epiphany, I had bought an investment property in December 1999. I arrived in 2010 at the beginning of the coldest, wettest winter for 25 years. While doing everything I could to survive, for a few months I played along with the Reader's Digest promises of millions. Obviously to no avail and a waste of time (and money) but I now have a collection of about a dozen jigsaw puzzles. Something else to do on those cold, wet and windy nights when friends and relatives have gone north for the winter.
For the first couple of years, until reaching retirement age, I was on the Newstart Allowance. In spite of offering to do courses to make myself fit in to the local job market, nothing new started. The next option under the Newstart Allowance is to do volunteer work for a set number of hours per fortnight. I have now been a fully-fledged pensioner for two and a half years but I am still volunteering at the organisation I opted for five years ago.
Perhaps one day I will retire and get those books down from the shelf.