no gold watches for me


How time flies...

One year has passed since I retired from HP. If it were a wedding anniversary, it would be the paper anniversary. But retirement is not a wedding — more like a divorce, really. After all, your former employer gives you alimony of a sort and, if you're lucky, a big fat settlement. In my case, I took the Tiffany candlesticks; I "don't need no stinkin' watches!"

6 months left

June 28, 2002. My last day at HP. It's not like I hadn't been waiting for the day, or that it was unexpected. No, for months — OK, years — I had been counting down how long until I could retire. Periodically I would send my colleagues and friends an email with a graphic reminder, such as this one at retirement minus six months.

By the last day, the parties had been held, the last tasks had been completed (well, almost all), and little remained except for the exit interview and to clean out my cubicle, which I had left until the last minute. Over the years I had accumulated a lot of stuff "just in case" I might need it again, and the clearing out lasted well past the time when almost everyone else had dropped by to say good-bye and go home. As a result, it was all rather anti-climactic.

The first month. There was simply no time to think about being retired, for the days immediately following my retirement were frenetic and full. Long before I knew my retirement date, I had planned several short trips for the summer, my San Jose house was on the market, and my Palm Springs house was in the throes of remodeling.

In rapid succession, there was:

  • a quick trip to Palm Springs to meet with the contractor
  • several days in Twain Harte for the 4th of July
  • a trip to Laguna Beach for the Pageant of the Masters
  • a trip to Minneapolis for my brother's 50th wedding anniversary
  • trucking my stuff to Palm Springs with Bob
  • Craig's farewell-HP picnic in the park
  • a trip to Ray's cabin in Mendocino county
  • and finally, the drive back to Palm Springs
no paycheck

The most noticeable difference, compared to just being on a long and very busy vacation, was that direct deposit stopped. Suddenly cash flow became a serious consideration. The paychecks stopped, but the two mortgages kept on, the bills kept coming in, and the contractor felt he should get paid for his labors. Just in the nick of time, I got an offer on my San Jose place, and the deal closed less than two weeks later. Whew!

On July 30th I woke up in my Palm Springs house, home at last. But not alone, for long— the first houseguests to "sleep in a bed assembled by someone else" arrived three days later.

Adjustments. The past year has been a period of adjustments.

• Wait a minute — I don't have to do all my errands on the weekend! For all my working years, weekends always meant a full to-do list of errands and chores on Saturday. Then one Saturday in August I was careening through the supermarket with my cart, having just tossed a load of clothes into the washer, when a cosmic question formed itself: Why? Why am I doing this now when everyone else is?

• You can actually leave more than a car-length space in front of you while driving on the streets of Palm Springs without someone cutting in to force you into forever tailgating.

• Except for one day while visiting in San Jose, I haven't worn a watch, nor felt any need to.

• Like the realization each spring and fall of just how many clocks there are in the house, moving forces an appreciation of how many places require a change of address. And some correspondents find this hopelessly difficult; HP, for example, caught on to my new address immediately when it came to sending bills for my medical plan, but anything that does not involve a payment by me still goes to San Jose.

hook thingy

• When I first got here I set the air conditioning thermostat to 72°, but soon found that was too cold. Over time, I moved it up to 74°, 76°, and finally 78°. This summer, however, when the thermostat rolled over from its "heat" to its "cool" program, 78° turned out to be much too cold. It's now set at 80°.

• Occupation: retired Oh, it feels good to put that on forms!

• Where do you get....? Spend some time in a certain place and you learn just where to go when you need a whatsit or a thingamajig. When I needed to replace the little plastic hook-thingys that hold up the patio curtains, I finally had to resort to carrying one along and asking everyone, "If you needed one of these, where would you look?" It only took six weeks to find the one shop on Perez Road in Cathedral City that had a supply.

• Then there's the matter of finding a new doctor, endocrinologist, opthalmologist, optometrist, podiatrist, dentist, and pharmacy that you like, that seems competent, and, that will accept your health insurance!

Plus ça change... But some things just don't change, no matter how much you might like.

• Inasmuch as the post office does not forward junk mail, there was a blissful period with almost no junk mail. But it's a wonder of modern commercial life in the US that it took the direct marketing people about two weeks to follow me.

• Ditto for the telemarketers. Fortunately, a combination of CallerID and the Telezapper has finally reduced these to a tolerable level, at least on most days. I can't wait for the Do Not Call lists to become effective.

Work again? For a time I wondered if I would eventually get antsy enough — or desperate enough — to want to work again, at least part time. That hasn't happened. And I don't think it's likely to happen. Frankly, I don't see how I ever had time to fit work into my life. There's far too much puttering and lazing about to do.

One and counting!