It’s sixteen months since I retired and for the first time I’m feeling a little ache when I think about the job I held for 27 years. I wouldn’t actually like to suddenly be back at my former workplace so I’m surprised to find that I am having these sudden nostalgic yearnings; I was sure that the euphoria that accompanied my retirement would last for many years to come. So why this new wrinkle?
I miss my colleagues. I realize that most of my work cohort has retired and we do meet occasionally for lunch. But I miss the daily interaction, especially those five or ten minutes before we settled down to serious work. Someone was always having a crisis with love, kids, or family members. There was advice to give or get. There was office stuff to gripe about. And, of course, there was office or campus gossip. I saw the same folks day in and day out for 27 years. I miss that. Lunch plans require so much more effort now.
I miss the structure of my day at work. The days had a definite rhythm, predictability, and definite deadlines. I do have projects galore to keep me busy but I have to plan them. I have to apportion the time and set my own timeline. It’s actually harder to get things done when I have these big blocks of time and no boss to account to. I was much more efficient and productive when I was working.
I miss having a “boss” to order my priorities and provide feedback. I miss the valuable reactions of my colleagues. The goals I had when I was working were crisp and measurable. My current goals keep shifting and there is no one to readily serve as a sounding board.
I miss the excuses I always had for not cooking dinner or cleaning the house. “I have too much to do and I need a break,” was my mantra when it came to any household chores. Working occasional weekends plus weekdays gave me fabulous excuses for avoiding volunteer work, as well.
I miss the students I counseled. Most were appreciative of the advice I gave them and freely told me I had helped them find their way. I still have a file of thank-you email messages and letters, and even several gifts from a few 0f them. I miss the feeling that I was truly being of help most every day.
I miss that great IT help. For any technical problem there was a number to call and like magic help would be provided to fix any computer glitch or kill any virus. And new computers would appear to replace the old ones at regular intervals.
I miss all the supplies: the yellow legal pads, the newly sharpened pencils, the markers of every kind and color, the manila folders, the endless reams of paper, the label maker, the envelopes of every size, the white binders and the page protectors. The office coordinator would order bins or organizers or racks of any kind your heart desired.
I miss lunch hour when I had the choice of running errands, grabbing a bite next door, or walking to Main Street for something mildly gourmet. There was always someone to eat with. Or you could use the time to unscramble your brain.
There are things I don’t miss but today, right now, they pale in comparison with what I miss. I guess this day was bound to come.