Apart from the recent floods and the economy, for people of my advanced age the most provocative subject of current affairs is retirement. As salty as the subject is to those of the federal government, teaching profession or Crown corporations who are about to partake of the advantage, it is otherwise relatively disdainful to the majority of us who face the continuing obligations of employment. Admittedly there is considerable jealousy at play in the latter sentiment, or at the very least remorseful misgivings about never having planned one’s financial stratagem sufficiently. The uneasiness is compounded by the failure to have outmaneuvered the system generally, as many of us had supposed was possible when too young to have then imagined anything as remote as old age. Little did we know!
Parrying the teasing jabs of friends and neighbours who liberally weigh in upon the subject of their mirthful retirement is no mean task. One must learn to become quick witted upon the subject, that is if one hopes to avoid becoming completely despondent. I for example have adopted by way of defence a thesis that for those of us engaged in sole proprietorships in the rural vernacular, the template of behaviour is in fact considerably different. I take my lead from my own predecessor who, at the age of eighty-two years, retired after fifty-six years of practice. Considered in this light, after thirty-six years of practice, I am only just beginning! Besides what a casualty to the profession it would be to lose the benefit of my capital of experience. I am further promoted in this justification by the example of a local funeral director and shopkeeper who continued to show up for morning coffee and opening of his stores every morning until at least seventy-eight years of age if not more. Clearly the model is there!
If one can get past the inherently demonizing feature of continued membership in the proletariat, or if one is haughtily able to excuse it by suggesting there are “tax advantages” to maintaining an office (as though there could possibly be any disadvantage in having a pension), the broader question arises,”What are you going to do instead?” Granted the debate may be entirely moot – even dare I say superfluous – at this point, but it assists in the formulation of other theories to advance the utility of work. In the end, however, it is perhaps simply best to remind one’s retired friends when in your company to confine their conversation to their health and the weather. The need to extrapolate upon the pleasures of retirement is after all a private matter and its public display borders on the vulgar.