The very best thing about being retired

Exactly three years ago today, on 31 March 2018, I trudged out of the office for the last time, bade farewell to the world of work and joined the ranks of the retired. Technically I was made redundant, my post deleted as part of yet another local government cost-cutting exercise. But since the manager who designed the restructuring exercise was me I could have no complaints, particularly as my employers compensated me handsomely for my noble sacrifice.

And anyway, I was exhausted. The restructuring had been dragging on for months, and many valued colleagues – several of whom I had personally appointed and nurtured – were certain to lose their jobs. I was doing what had to be done in the context of a rapidly shrinking budget, but I’d had enough. Surely, I thought, there must be more to life than this. Just give me my pension, and let me get on with it.

But adapting to retirement took longer than expected. Work brought a welcome structure to my existence, a secure framework of expectations, routines and relationships around which to arrange the rest of my life, and without it I was all over the place for a while. In addition it had given me purpose and status – I had an important job to do, and many people relied on me – but overnight all this was swept away. My social interactions also diminished when the daily water cooler banter and tea point chats abruptly ended. Suddenly I found myself a stranger in a strange land.

On the positive side, retirement brought an end to the frantic rushing around that had characterised my earlier life. I could do domestic chores when it suited me and take as long as I liked over them, rather than desperately cramming everything in on weekends. More importantly, it freed up time to travel as and when we wanted, rather than at times dictated by the business needs of my employer. Our rewards have included six weeks touring New Zealand, and a magical return trip to Yellowstone National Park. Nearer to home, until Covid intervened we finally found time to visit many of those places in the UK that had been on our “to do list” for years.

There are lots of things I don’t miss at all about work: the morning commute, for example, as well as the stifling risk aversion and mindless bureaucracy that are endemic within local government culture. But the thing I miss least of all is regular contact with politicians. During the last decade of my career I had the dubious pleasure of spending a lot of time with politicians.  As this was in local government their capacity to wreak mayhem and misery was geographically constrained, but it didnโ€™t stop many of them having a damn good try.

The average politician is less trustworthy than an alligator with terminal toothache

To be fair, some of the politicians I had dealings with were capable, decent, well-meaning human beings, regardless of party affiliation.ย  They simply wanted to make life better for their local community. However the majority were, in my humble opinion, cut from an altogether different cloth: ignorant, incompetent, self-important, totally lacking in self-awareness and less trustworthy than an alligator with terminal toothache. Time spent in the company of politicians is rarely time well spent, as I learned to my cost during my last few years at work.

And so I am pleased to report that despite all the wonderful things Mrs P and I have done since 31 March 2018, the very best thing about being retired is that it is now 1,096 days since I last spoke with, or was in the company of, any politician. Long may it continue.

26 comments

  1. krikitarts · 17 Days Ago

    What an amazing coincidence–the date of my retirement was also on this day, but 11 years ago. There were also some political issues–mainly new upper management staff determined to micro-manage what had been working quite well, thank you, but it was also time to get out of the Washington, DC burocracy and back to the real world and uninterrupted family life, and I have seldom been so happy as I was to see DC in my rear-view mirror for the last time. And I have never regretted that move. So happy to be free!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · 16 Days Ago

      I like your reference to getting back to the ‘real world.’ At their worst the bureaucracies that we both ensured are like some strange parallel universe where the normal rules (and, indeed, basic common sense) don’t seem to apply. Like you, I’m just happy to be free, finally back in the real world.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ann Mackay · 17 Days Ago

    The caption for the alligator made me laugh – and nod in agreement! Hehe! Enjoy your politician-free retirement! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. thelongview · 17 Days Ago

    That’s a very good perk of retirement! Love the alligator – though I thought at first that that was the perk ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · 16 Days Ago

      Never trust a smiling alligator, and definitely never trust a smiling politician! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Laurie Graves · 17 Days Ago

    This post touched on many aspects of retirement, both the relief and the loss. If you are doing work that you like, it can be very jarring to no longer have this be the center of your days. I have several friends who have felt this way about their work, and a couple of them have actually gone back after retirement. As for politicians…I am happy to report that I know some who genuinely care about people and want to make the government work for all, rather than for a favored few. Unfortunately, your unflattering description rings all too true, as we in this country have ruefully witnessed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Platypus Man · 16 Days Ago

      What saddens me most about politicians (not all, but most in my opinion) is that they seem to regard politics as a contest in which there have to be winners and losers, rather than an opportunity to work with others (who may have a different outlook to their own) in pursuit of the common good. I’ve always favoured co-operation and compromise over contests and conflict. Perhaps that just shows I’m hopelessly naรฏve?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Laurie Graves · 16 Days Ago

        No, it shows that you don’t have an unhealthy zeal for power, unlike too many politicians.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Mike Powell · 17 Days Ago

    Wow. The 31st of March must be a popular day to retire. I retired for the first time on 31 March 1997 from the US Army. It was not a “real” retirement, though, because I began to work for our federal government almost immediately afterwards. I retired for the second time on 31 October 2011, but it too was not a “real” retirement, because I came back to work for the same government organization as a contractor almost immediately afterwards. However, I stipulated that I would work only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursday, and did so for just over seven years, thereby establishing a glide path to the moment when I retired for the final time. I avoided some of the abrupt transition that you described by creating structures and interests outside of work, while still having the three days of work to anchor me a bit. I was intrigued by your descriptions of the politicians and the bureaucracies with which you had to deal and I recognized some of the the same negative factors that I encountered in my dealings with government bureaucrats and especially those in management positions. I have always had a somewhat naive view that working for the government was about selfless service rather than self-promotion, but all too often that was not true at all. The pandemic has put some of my retirement plans on hold, but, God willing, I will be able to resume some of those activities, like travel, before too long.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · 16 Days Ago

      Your ‘glide path’ to retirement seems like a good way to approach it if circumstances allow. I think the majority of people working in public service are primarily motivated by the desire to support their fellow citizens, though some lose sight of that as they are promoted further and further away from the consumers of the services they provide. Some of the politicians have a similar, public-spirited motivation, but most seem to care for little more than naked self-aggrandisement and winning at all costs. I hope your retirement plans are back of track before too long; thankfully we do seem to be making progress in the fight against Covid.

      Like

      • Mike Powell · 16 Days Ago

        I was fortunate to be able to use the glide path approach I described, primarily because I was already receiving my military pension and could afford to live with the cut in pay that came with my cut in hours. I agree with your assessments of public servants and politicians. As for COVID, I am feeling somewhat more hopeful. A week ago I received my second vaccination, which gave me a big psychological boost.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Platypus Man · 16 Days Ago

        Good news about your Covid jabs. My father-in-law had his second about an hour ago, and my mother-in-law gets hers next week. Mrs P and I will each get our second doses in just a few weeks. It certainly raises the spirits, knowing that we – and millions of others – are getting protection from the virus.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Marie · 17 Days Ago

    I retired 4 years and 212 days ago and there hasn’t been a morning since that I haven’t just smiled and enjoyed the moment!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · 16 Days Ago

      It took me a bit longer to fully appreciate the joys of retirement, but I’m definitely ‘on message’ these days! I’m so glad I haven’t had to work during the pandemic, which appears to have been a nightmare for so many people.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marie · 16 Days Ago

        I taught 4-5 year olds… imagine facing that through Zoom for all those months… ๐Ÿ˜ฃ ๐Ÿ˜– I know I’ve been moaning about my lack of travel opportunity but I regularly cop myself on and say ‘stop – you could still be teaching!’… works every time๐Ÿ˜…

        Liked by 1 person

  7. tanjabrittonwriter · 17 Days Ago

    I second your wish for a long and fun-filled retirement, Mr. P, with as little exposure to politicians as possible. Alas, unless we move to utopia, there will be no escaping politics and politicians.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · 16 Days Ago

      Yes, you’re absolutely right. But it did make feel better, having a rant about it on my blog! Interesting, and quite sad I think, that three years after my working life ended I’m still haunted by the memory of those wretched politicians.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Reg Spittle · 16 Days Ago

    What adventures would make retirement a dream part of life?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · 15 Days Ago

      Spending some time getting to know more of South America (I’ve only ever been to Ecuador); I’m thinking Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and maybe the Brazilian Pantanal. And a return trip to Japan (it’s been 20 years …)

      Liked by 2 people

  9. The June Journal · 15 Days Ago

    Love the alligator and the caption๐Ÿ˜‰ I always dream of part time job, which still have financial benefits and also have fun in life! Your traveling plan is very exciting. I really like Japan. Enjoy your retirement ๐Ÿ‘

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · 15 Days Ago

      Thank you, I’m determined to enjoy it, despite Covid (and aching knees!). I hope one day you can get a part time job and so be able to travel more … there’s lots still to see out there!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Steve Gingold · 14 Days Ago

    I am trying to think if I have ever had any kind of close experience with someone in politics. About as close as I can come is an aide to our local state representative who helped me with an unemployment snafu during last year’s pandemic work closure. While I support one party here in particular I know that both parties have their self-absorbed individuals who only act in their personal best interests and if that helps the rest of us it’s just a coincidence. But there are some who genuinely care.
    I have yet to retire although am considered semi-retired as I work four days/seven hours per.. And I have a few years on you so am overdue. ๐Ÿ™‚ Once the car is paid off we’ll see. It must be nice to decide where and when one can choose to do things. Enjoy!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Platypus Man · 13 Days Ago

      You’re absolutely right, some politicians do genuinely care but (in my experience, at least) they’re sadly in a minority. Your ‘semi-retirement’ sounds like a good way to make the transition from the world of work to fully retired status, rather less abrupt than what happened to me. When the time comes I’m sure you’ll enjoy it…just think of all those extra photos you can take ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a great day!

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Steve Gingold · 11 Days Ago

    Oh, I do think about all the shots I am missing while at work and do look forward to having my say on how I spend my time…with permission from the missus. ๐Ÿ™‚ I got a taste of it while pandemically unemployed. I am fortunate that the business I work for survived and is actually thriving currently. Things can always go south but I don’t expect to be out on the street any time soon. I am sorry your retirement was thrust upon you.

    Liked by 1 person

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