The Retirement Scoreboard – Part Four – Independence Day

035008” Independence Day ” is, I am told, the title of a motion picture that has Will Smith, aliens, and petrol explosions.

I’ve not seen it, but as it has been filmed in the last 30 years it is bound to have these elements. It would appear to have made money for both Smith and the aliens, as they have a sequel. It remains to be seen whether the business will continue – I can assure you that I will give the subsequent editions all the attention I lavished on the first.

Why? Not because I dislike Will Smith or aliens or even explosions, but because my retirement has brought with it an increasingly precious sense of independence. I would not have thought it in the months leading up to finishing work – I sorely missed it in the first six months after it began. But now it is starting to fire on all cylinders.

What do I have independence from?

a. From the daily grind of foolishly complex accountancy systems in shop tills. I groaned under this for 8 years, with the burden markedly increased in the last three years. The business adopted a new over-the-counter computer system that was really intended for other forms of trade and made our lives hell. It underwent modification after modification in an effort to make it work simply…when the truth of the matter was it simply did not work. I cannot guess how many customers deserted the shop when faced with the sight of staff trying to cope with the computers.

Note: I suspect that the business is going to finally admit that they are eating their dinner off a teller mine and will ditch it. Apparently they are training up on a new system.

b. From daily commuting. An hour in the morning and an hour in the evening subtracted from an adult’s day and given to driving in heavy traffic. Longer if public transport is resorted to. I now have two extra hours per day that can be filled with interesting things instead of steering and cursing.

c. From the pressure of emulation. The first career I pursued had definite ranks – powers and principalities and such – and as I never got out of the pack when it came to the race for advancement, every professional meeting was an occasion when I was put in my place. My second career also saw me in a low place but with the pressure to succeed just as strong – and in this case it was pressure from a boss. This was never done unfairly, but it was always there. Now it isn’t.

d. From the necessity to endure bad company. My first profession brought clients from all walks of life and for the most part they were straightforward to deal with. A few bad eggs, but in 40 years one is bound to encounter these – in most cases the contact ws brief enough to be bearable and in the end I had a position in the business that allowed bme to disengage from them.

My second career saw me as a retail worker at a time when we were increasingly subject to abrasive contacts with customers. Most people were fine – but an increasing number were starting to become unpleasant in the hopes of obtaining discounts. Not exactly money with menaces, but close to it.

Some were particularly memorable examples of arrogance and greed. Good for the soul, if one could maintain calm and kindness in their face, but hard on the nerves. I am so glad to be free of them…though I know that Perth is such a small city that I will one day be brought face to face with them again in some situation. I hope to be able to maintain a saintly calm…

Oddly enough, the sense of independence that attaches to work also permeates into private life. I have taken to heart the advice of General George Washington that it is better to be alone than in bad company, and have taken steps to eliminate this in my private life. The people I keep as friends I now value all the more.

e. From the slavery of consumption. My financial resources are bound to be reduced in the future – I must needs reduce my expenditures to match them. And this means that I can now legitimately conserve what I have and not rush to replace it with more and newer things. I need not feel uneasy at using the same goods that I have used in the past. I need not feel reduced if I do not eat and drink as hard as I used to. I can ease off the consumption throttle a little and coast.

f. From the cajoling and caterwauling. I do not need to respond to political opinion, whether expressed from high, low, far, or near. I have my vote, and will keep it a private affair. I have the mechanism to free me from having to endure the propaganda. I can use it with no apology.

g. From the dictat of superstition. I no longer have to respond or take any interest in the tales that are told to control me. I do not fee or feed any priests and feel under no obligation to listen to complex rules of life. The old dietary restrictions are gone ( to be replaced by the honest admission that I do not like prawns but I do like bacon ) and I no longer need to follow them. I will not knowingly offend someone upon the subject of their religion but neither will I allow them to control me upon that basis. At best I promise to do what they tell me to do if they promise not to tell me what to do.

In all these points – growing increasingly valuable to me as time goes on – I find I am not moving away from my family or friends. Nor away from my memories or my interests. For me it is less a Will and the aliens movie as much as true July the 4th.

I may go out and explode some petrol later.



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