Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Heart, New Job

I have 5 years until my projected retirement. I may be wrong, but I am determined to NOT work full-time past that date, even if my 401K doesn't rebound. I have this philosophy about quality of life being as important as money. I joke about living in my car, but sometimes I'm not sure that I am.

My friend Tom got to retire early at 55. His doctor told him that he needed to for his health. He had high blood pressure. He and his wife discussed this and decided that, with his Calstrs (Teacher's retiement) and her income (she's in banking), they could live very comfortably.

The part she left out was that she was seeing another man and had planned on divorcing Tom very soon.

So Tom retired, divorced, got an alimony settlement from his wife, stayed retired for about ten years.

His alimony settlement comes up for renegotiation next year and he decided that he would not go through a courtroom battle to continue getting payments--partly because their adult son has asked that they not go through another big fight.

So he decides to go back and teach a few more years.

Then he has a heart attack.

Then he has triple bypass.

Now, seven weeks later, he gets a call from the district where we both used to teach together. They have an opening. Would he be interested?

So, seven weeks after a triple bypass, he may have a job.

I counseled him against it, but his doctor has told him to go for it.

My reasons for it are because, after his bypass, he has made the time to eat right and exercise regularly--something he has never done in all of the years I have known him. I told him that having a job where he had to be on premises at fixed times--AND take home work on weekends, AND join committees, AND deal with students in all of their most and least pleasant manifestations--he would soon find himself making excuses and pretty soon going back to his old habits, which would be a bad thing.

But he's going to do it anyway.

Part of Tom's problem is that he didn't have much of a plan for retirement--at least not as a single man. He's tried other things, but kind of half-assedly. He tried real estate, but let his focus be drawn away by this crazy woman he was seeing at the time. He thought he might like working at a winery and settled in at this design-a-winery in town, where customers got to order wine mixed to their specifications. I don't know how it worked, but the wine tastes like soda to me and the owners had no head for business, so they never had customers.

I guess I just want to live in a world where everybody gets a prolonged recess after working hard all of their lives--one where they get to recreate themselves into new beings.

I guess you've just gotta let people choose their own poison.

No comments: