Retirement: For Those Who Have Jobs Instead of Careers

REFLECTIONS ON CAREERS, JOBS, AND LIFE AFTER RETIREMENT

The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.” – Abe Lemons

Marquette, MI – Having survived a life of working for a living I am now in the era when I should be able to start living. Retirement is for those people who had a job instead of a career. A career is doing something you enjoy like an artist, a musician or a Wall Street bankster. Careers are motivated by the possibility of mixing business with pleasure; the art of enjoying what you do for an occupation. Some careers are motivated by making money, which is what some people enjoy more than anything else. I’ve always enjoyed spending it more than making it, which is why I have settled for a comfortable existence in lieu of an exciting retirement.

You see, I didn’t have a career – I had a job. A job is the daily grind of forcing yourself to do something you either are not thrilled by or absolutely abhor in order to make the necessary money that keeps the proverbial wolves away from the door. Who enjoys hosing walls at the mine or standing a freezing yard at the prison? We do these things because we have to, which is why I’ve always envied those people who have careers.

Careers provide positive avenues for advancement. Jobs are dead-end drudgeries where people count the days to retirement. Some are worse than others; some are actually pleasant or at least tolerable in light of the alternatives. I didn’t hate my job – I only wished I had a career.

People who have careers get up early in the morning and attack the day’s challenges, eager to apply their education and experience to solving problems or creating wonders all day long. They enjoy what they are doing and feel a sense of accomplishment in their day’s work. They build things. They help others. They create works to be proud of and for others to enjoy.

People who have jobs drag themselves out of bed reluctantly, struggling to talk themselves out of calling in sick. They dread the minutes ticking away until they must punch the clock. They fantasize about punching things other than clocks. They wonder what to do for the half-hour of unpaid lunch while they choke down a micro-waved sandwich and read old newspapers in a smelly lunchroom or eat cold bologna sandwiches in their trucks.

Motivation is important in employment. Those who enjoy their careers usually prosper because they don’t have to be motivated, brow-beaten or otherwise coerced into performing their occupational tasks. They do so willingly and with pride.

Retirement means you have to fill your days that were previously occupied by work. Sometimes I go downtown or to the mall during the days. I was in Donckers for a half-hour the other day and when I came out, a cop was writing a parking ticket. I said, “C’mon, officer. How about giving a retired person a break?”

His glare told me he was not in a mood to give a break. I called him a “fascist pig.” He wrote another ticket for a cracked tail light. I called him a “doughnut loving Nazi.” He put both tickets on the windshield while I called him another unflattering expletive. The more I cursed him out, the more tickets he wiped on the windshield.

As I left, I told him how I really didn’t care, since I was parked across the street. It’s nice to laugh once in a while when retired. It’s good for the old ticker.

My cousin, Carl, has neither a job nor a career – he’s currently seeking work and drawing unemployment checks. His wife says he spends a lot of time meditating. She says she doesn’t know what that is but it’s better than having him sit around and do nothing all day. She’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer but she puts up with Carl so that puts her in line for beatification.

Ideally, one can only hope that those activities which we enjoy and excel at are those that we can use to make money. It’s not drudgery if you’re enjoying whatever it is you are doing. Making money from enjoyment is wonderful and most would agree that it’s even better than making money from doing nothing. I say most everyone because there is Carl, who thinks making money for doing nothing is still the best deal he’s found. The problem is, it will run out before long and Carl will have to work another job, if he can find one. I will say that he has looked for work, but there is slim demand for mattress testers.

 

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About David Aho

David Aho I am a retired corrections officer who has written extensively over the years for local papers and magazines. A father of three and grandfather of two, I devote my energies and inabilities to family, writing, golf, exercise and playing percussion. (This causes me to stay up late at night and drink beer, darn it.) My wife, Diane, and I live in Marquette with our German Shepherd, Gunther, who diligently pursues any manner of play that causes me to leave my La-Z-Boy. I am an alumnus of MTU and NMU and a Navy veteran of the Viet Nam era. I’ve been a small business owner, salesman, carpenter, auto body repairman, steeplejack, export company manager, cartoonist, corrections officer and I’ve written a crime-fiction novel called “Good Looking Out” which is based in Michigan and available through www.lulu.com under the pseudonym David Michaels.

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