Thursday, February 12, 2009

Retirement Schmirement!

Life after 50 was, and continues to be, extremely hard for me to adjust to.  Who knew life after a 60+ hour per week job/career would be even harder? 

Here's how I see it post-retirement.  Regardless if you loath your job, it gives you an identity that you and others can relate to.  At very least, you have a place to hang your hat during the better part of the day and people to complain with over lunch.  With a job usually comes a sense of community even if they are a group of people you normally won't spit on if they were on fire.  In short, from 8am to 6pm you "belong" somewhere and are considered "contributing" to society.  
When I retired, I could actually hear tires squealing to get away from me.  One man seated next to me at a very expensive charity dinner introduced himself (George the Chairman of Very Big Shopping Centers) then asked "what I do" for a living.  Note:  He did not ask my name. When I introduced myself and proudly explained that I was recently retired, I could literally see his eyes roll to the back of his head as he scanned the table for a different seat-- Next to a more interesting table mate! Huh?  Did I have spinach in my teeth or was my lack of employment really a total conversation stopper?  It was as if I was suddenly invisible and irrelevant!  And that's not the only time it's happened.  

It's usually business men I'm meeting for the first time in social environments-- charity, my husband's business or other such banquet type settings-- that seem to have the hardest problem finding something to talk about with the recently retired me.  It's okay if we're talking about themselves, but if they (finally) ask me a question, the question is usually always about my employment status. I'm not sure if they really care or if they are just trying to figure out if I can help them, their career, or their kid's careers in any way, but they seem interested in knowing what I bring to the party.   The moment "retirement" passes my lips-- eyes immediately glaze over and they turn to the person on the other side of them, even if I'm in mid sentence.  Or worse, they ask who my husband is and decided I'm an over-the-hill trophy wife and/or completely empty headed.  For the record I am neither a trophy wife nor empty headed.  All I am at that moment is really angry.

I fully admit, I have a chip on my shoulder about my age and I am sensitive to the implications of retirement. Society seems to point to both as "old", over the hill, or some how less than I was the day before my 50th birthday or retirement announcement.  Yes, I'm fortunate to be retired and in decent health so I can enjoy myself and really have nothing to complain about.  But come on!  What's with the dismissal for accomplishing the ability TO retire?  What's with the "over the age 50 hill".  I didn't suddenly become stupid, less interesting or empty-headed.

Maybe I should start saying I'm a Blogger.  Half the men who ask me the "what do you do?" question are significantly older than I am.  I guarantee you the majority don't have a clue what a blogger is!  Maybe I can beat them at their own game.

Do you get asked the "what do you do?" question?
Welcome to -  Joanna

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