For younger readers, the expression is of French origin and can best be translated as ” unwanted or unwelcome “. It starts early – we have all experienced it at some point in school – and finishes late – retired people may find it at many turns. In the intervening years we encounter it in relationships, employment, and social groups.
Kids at school, lovers in the park, and people in their daily jobs all have different mechanisms to cope with this – or not, as the case may be. Older people need to develop their own strategies – herewith a few specific cases and ideas that may help:
a. The former work colleagues that roll down the social shutters on the end of your last trading day. This is actually natural – they have the ongoing distresses of the workplace and you do not. Recognise the fact that you no longer have to endure staff meetings, business decisions, or fluctuations in the market with them. Celebrate this internally, but do not let them feel that you are glad to be away. Especially do not go hooting past the shop door when they are doing a stocktake playing air guitar and necking a cold beer. Their self-control may give way.
b. Former customers or sellers in a business that you no longer pursue might see no benefit in being nice to you. If you ask them for continued contact – perhaps to promote their wares – you may be given a vague agreement and a subsequent brush-off or you may just get coldly ignored. It is a measure in retrospect of the view they held of you when you were working.
As sad as this is, there is no sense in getting worked up about it. If they think that you can do no more for them…and drop you accordingly…you can benefit yourself and use your time and talents profitably by agreeing politely with them. Do no more for them. Once you are certain that the disconnection is genuine, and does not come from some misunderstanding or misdirected mail, remove them from your contact list and from your concern.
Use the time thus saved to pursue other contacts and interests. You need not tell them to go to hell – they have their own schedule for that. You may offer to call them a handbasket, though…
c. Former social contacts that are still in employment may seem to draw away from you, but this might be a false impression – they may be as close and keen as ever they were, but are restricted in the time that they can devote to you. You’ll have more time in the day, and may start to feel that the place is deserted – they may feel that their day is so full of work that they cannot socialise during short evening hours. You can’t go down and perch on their desk and chat for hours – they are needed for their business.
Make a compromise. Pick a day in a week or a day in a month when they will be free. Adapt yourself to their schedule and don’t put pressure on them – you may be pleasantly surprised how well your acquaintance or friendship continues.
d. Relatives who decide that your status has slipped. This may be the time when long-held animosities come to the surface and the nephew who tolerated you at the family party decides to cut you dead. You are yesterday’s news – fit only to wrap fish in. I like to think of this as one of the best parts of retirement…for it allows you to retire any concern for the nephew. Thereafter you can follow his progress in the newspaper or via advertisements on the notice board of the local supermarket if you care to…or not.
Now – before you get too depressed – keep reading – a future Scoreboard post will explain how to get new friends in retirement.