It was 1966, the year I graduated from high school and the year I began working at the radio station in the county seat.
In small market radio stations at that time announcers had to regularly monitor transmitter readings along with everything else. I worked part time in the office until I could test for (and obtain) the FCC third-class radio operators license required to monitor the transmitter. On the day of my high school commencement program I began working full time on-the-air and did so for the entire summer. My hours were cut to about 30 when I went to college that fall.
One day that summer I was in the middle of my on-air shift. It was a rare moment of calm in the studio. I was sitting between two turntables and in front of an RCA console with multiple switches, knobs and meters. There were two continuous-loop cartridge tape players above me and three reel-to-reel tape decks above them. I loved this job and all the things involved with it and I remember wondering why anyone would ever want to retire.
It is nearly 48 years later and now I understand why someone would retire, even from a job they enjoy.
I understand because I did so this month. After a career spanning nearly five decades I hung it up, as they say. I loved my job and the organization I worked for. I found fulfillment in raising money for a charity that helps my less fortunate neighbors. In fact, I enjoyed all of the jobs I have had over the past 48 years. Some I enjoyed more than others but I never had a job I hated.
Oh, there were people and circumstances that made the jobs difficult at times, some difficult enough that I sought other employment. But I always enjoyed what I did.
So why retire? Because I’m tired. Pooped. Exhausted. Zonked. I wore four hats in my last job and I was having trouble keeping up with it all. Over the years I had to deal with older employees who didn’t know when to retire. As their performance declined I had to counsel them and ultimately encourage them to retire.
I didn’t want to go there. I wanted to finish well. I gave notice of my plans to retire in early 2014 last February, shortly after my wife died. She was three years younger so we figured I would work a little longer and she would retire early. We had discussed plans for a big retirement trip. Life, however, has no guarantees. After Cindy died I decided to retire when I turned 66. That happened in January. January 31 was my last day on the job and February 3 was the first official day of retirement. I slept in… until 6:40 a.m. That’s an hour later than what was normal. I read the entire morning newspaper while eating breakfast and savoring a cup of coffee. That’s a real treat because in the past I had to skim significant portions of the paper in an effort to get to work on time.
I spent some time reading e-mails and Facebook postings and then went to the grocery store to stock up on necessities. I worked on a budget needed for an afternoon meeting with my financial advisor. At noon I heated up some leftovers for lunch and watched Cops on TV, something I seldom could do when working.
After the meeting I went to the new farm store in town and spent 90 minutes just looking around. Farming is far different than when I last worked on a farm, but there’s something about a farm store that helps me remember who I am… an old country boy.
I prepared a healthy supper, enjoyed a lengthy telephone conversation with a dear friend and now I’m at my computer writing all about my first day of retirement. I think I’m going to like retirement. I hope to take a month or so to just enjoy dilly-dallying and then get busy again but doing so on my schedule. There are many things I want to do, including more writing.
"The goal of retirement," according to author Frank Eberhart, "is to live off your assets, not on them." I plan to live off them.