Last Saturday I had my 65th birthday anniversary, so I’m now officially what in UK is known as an OAP, or Old Age Pensioner entitled to a State Pension.
I took early retirement nearly three years ago to look after my mother, whose 95 and lives nearby in sheltered accommodation. I often wonder who’ll look after me and others like me who have no children or partners if I get unable to do things for myself. Presumably carers will be needed, or like my friend Brian whose gay life-partner died a few years ago, I may end up in a care home.
But at the moment I’m still very active, though don’t have the energy/enthusiasm I had for certain things a few years ago. None of us who reach retirement age can be sure how much of an active life lies ahead, but I certainly seem to keep busy and wonder how I ever fitted in work, even though it was a part-time job.
My mother and I have been going to various clubs, but we’ve dropped the luncheon club twice a week and a Drama Group for senior citizens may or may not be continuing after about July, depending on whether a new coach takes over.
I also belong to a Senior Service group which has outings/meals, etc. twice a month, a Friday club which includes a lunch and other activities, a group of us have organized Thursday outings for those who are retired or not working, I go with a friend to the cinema and a meal about once a fortnight, and we have meet-ups in a pub with a meal in a restaurant afterwards once a month, plus a few gigs and parties with often live bands.
I certainly don’t regret retiring since the last job I did was the most boring one you could imagine, isolated in a Reception area and hardly seeing anybody. I didn’t even get a lunch-break, so little opportunity to socialize either.
And at the annual Christmas lunch in a restaurant/afternoon in the pub we on Reception were expected to rush back to work while most of the others got plastered all afternoon and into the evening. No wonder I hated the job, which hardly used my keyboard skills, and was glad to retire.
I feel far more useful in retirement than I ever did those last few years at work. No more shouting at visitors who came in during the lunch hour without appointments, surprised that people they hoped to see were out at lunch. No more losing my temper and asking visitors/telephone callers if they expected me to wave a wand and make people appear out of thin air! Or telling them I’d had no training for the job, and was just dumped in Reception with no people skills, and was also hard of hearing so often unable to hear visitors thru the bullet-proof glass with inadequate microphones and speakers. Often I was quite oblivious to visitors in Reception, my head buried in my computer screen unable to hear them. At least my old department head gave me a nice coaster for my morning coffee which read: ‘Do I LOOK like a people person?’ Ha ha! I had no patience or skills for dealing with people on Reception and the Switchboard; any ‘people skills’ I do have lie elsewhere, though patience and temper control is not one of my best attributes. Victor Meldrew/Basil Fawlty syndrome!
Funniest visitor was a drunk who wandered in from Rosebery Avenue demanding to know why Lord Rosebery hadn’t left him any money. I just sat there not knowing what to say to him, quite unable to handle the situation. Eventually my colleague and my department head came to my rescue and ushered him out into the street. As I say, I had no natural aptitude or training to deal with such awkward situations.
(Jennie, I hope you find this blog more readable – not too long!)