One year ago this week, I became a man of leisure; since then, it has been an interesting ride.
As predicted, the idea that I was jobless didn’t sink in for a long time. I had already arranged to take two weeks off in December and, after the flurry of the holidays, we visited Bath, so it was February before my new life settled into anything resembling a routine.
Now this may have been a nice way to ease into retirement, but it also got me used to the notion of not doing much of anything and helped me to discover within myself a heretofore untapped talent for frittering away vast amounts of time. Rather than being “productive”—that vague yet respectable state I had always imagined myself in after my retirement—I rode my bike, took long walks, developed an interest in real ale, dabbled in watercolor and learned the joys of afternoon naps. It was wonderful.
But by summer’s end, I noticed something disturbing: I missed having a job.
I realize we all hate to work. Even if you don\’t love your job there is still nothing better than getting together with your work mates to have a beer-fueled moan about the morons in charge and how you could do it so much better. (Or, if you happen to be one of the morons in charge, getting together with your fellow morons-in-charge and having a moan about the incompetent people who work for you and how much easier your life would be if you didn’t have to put up with employees.)
In my case, I went from travelling to London, or spending the work-week in Devon, or trekking up to Nottingham to realizing—on Wednesday morning—that I had not left the flat since Monday afternoon when I had popped across the street to the Co-Op to get milk. My job had not been one of those high-powered positions with a sexy-sounding title like Senior Implementation Manager, Regional Quality Analyst or National Tactics Consultant (get your own sexy job title here), but my duties saw me—perhaps accidentally—accrue a residue amount of responsibility. One day, all was normal, with people contacting me for advice, assistance, assurance or to tear me a new asshole because I’d let something slip. Again. But then, the next day, no one wanted to know me. Whatever I did, whatever I knew, whatever skills I had acquired were all—like me—redundant.
It really is a strange sensation to get up in the morning knowing that you don’t have to do anything, not even take a shower and get dressed if you don’t want to, and to know that your days of being a slave to the alarm clock because you need to catch the school bus or get to your job on time—a condition that has been part of your daily routine since the age of five—is now over and not likely to return.
Liberating? Yes. Giddily intoxicating? Absolutely. Kinda sad? Yeah, that, too.
Trust me when I say I did NOT let this get me down, nor did I ever forget the unbelievably fortunate situation I found myself in. Still, when my old office contacted me and asked if I would like to work part time for them again, I signed the contract as quickly as I had signed my redundancy papers a year ago.
So, one year after “retiring,” I am back in gainful employment, in probably the best type of job I could think of: I get to work from home, set my own hours and, occasionally, travel to the office for meetings. All the old skills and knowledge are coming back, along with all the old problems (and just as the nightmares had begun to taper off), and it is unexpectedly pleasing to see all my former ex-colleagues again (the ones who were not made redundant after I left, that is).
The other good thing about this job is, it’s temporary. So just about the time I get to thinking how inconvenient it is to have someone owning a piece of my time, it will be over.