Monday, June 23, 2014

The Art of Retirement

Many apologies for my long absence. This Prairie Grl has been dang busy these past few months.  Let me give you a rundown. Bear with me. This post may be classified as TMI.

I think one of my last posts may have been during my drug-addled recovery from a broken wrist.  Prairie Readers may remember that I stepped out on my driveway on the morning of January 6th only to find myself in the ER an hour later with a rather nasty mess wrapped in a splint.  Three weeks of of ice and pain meds and one surgery later I was back in the classroom, having missed most of January.
As of June 23rd, completely healed with 95% mobility!

This is a higher caliber show than my usual fair of
Naked and Afraid on the Discovery Channel.
That time spent at home was devoid of writing, collaging, and even reading.  I found I couldn't focus long enough on a page to remember what I had read/written 30 seconds earlier. I did find myself watching a great deal of mindless television, which led me to begin rethinking my immediate future.

Poor Prairie Gus, forced to
"have fun" at Old World Wisconsin.
The former master plan had been to continue teaching for four to five more years.  Forced into a state of seclusion and virtual immobility, I began to realize that, as Prairie Pa reminded us in last week's post, I needed to start carpe-ing my own diem.  After 35 years in the classroom, I really didn't want to go back for year 36.  I wanted to regain use of my wrist and hand, and I wanted to take my life, throw it into one of of washtubs at Old World Wisconsin (that place where Prairie Eydie takes her children to experience the manual labor of old), swirl it around vigorously, scrub it on one of those old-timey washboards, hang it out in the sun, and start fresh.

With my arm still in a sling, I started applying for possible retirement jobs. Let me tell you, those applications are miserable when typing with one finger. I wanted something that would keep me engaged with people but required no papers to attack with a red pen.  I wanted to continue working with young people, but not to write referrals for "insubordination" and "excessive tardies."  I also wanted to go through at least a week without having a 14 year-old call me a "f------ b-----."

I am happy to report that businesses still want 58 year-olds.  I received a number of interviews, and I accepted a position with a large Midwest grocer, Hy-Vee, that (not "who"--a corporation is not a person) was just opening a new store two miles from my home.  After a month of training, I helped open the store as a "customer service representative"--meaning that I am the person who handles customer problems, questions, and fuels gambling addictions with lotto cards.
At times, I also relieve exhausted parents by
plying small children into semi-socially
acceptable behavior with candy.

March, April, and May were exhausting.  I worked two jobs, averaging 60-65 hours a week, but there was that golden date in my near future, June 13th, that kept me going.  At 1 pm on that day, I shut off my classroom computer, picked up my purse and the last of my personal belongings, and walked out of room 530 for the last time.

I have to invest in a new iron.
This is my second week of my new life.  I am working about 20-25 hours a week.  I look forward to putting on my crisp, white shirt and my name tag and helping my customers.  I am surrounded with teens experiencing their first jobs as cashiers and bag packers.  None of them has used the b-word to describe me.  In fact, they find me quite amusing at times.  I kid them mercilessly.  My young assistant managers are friendly and upbeat, even when working long hours and juggling a million tasks.  They know I am a hard worker and that I can be counted on. The small customer service staff are incredibly supportive and kind.  I am in a very good place.

Shut that dang door.
Company is coming.
I have enough time at home where I don't feel the need to write long "to do" lists.  This past week I spent my time in the yard and garden because that is where I wanted to be.  I didn't want to be in the house organizing closets.  Closets have doors on them for a reason. My grandchildren spent the week-end, and I had time to share a popsicle with them, go to the farmers' market, and make a batch of strawberry jam. A friend dropped by to spend a couple of nights while attending an event in town, and I didn't even pick up the kitchen before she arrived.

This has gotten rather wordy and lengthy, but now that I have explained my new circumstances, I can get back to my regular posts.  Many thanks to Prairie Eydie and Prairie Pa for getting us started once again.

Oops, need a coffee break.  The sun is just perfect on the deck.  I'm not going to even proof-read this a second time.
Rory beat me to it.

Prairie Sherry


  1. I think I will put you in charge of planning our celebratory 2015 escape across the Atlantic since you have so much leisure time on the deck!

  2. Welcome back....and into the newness Sharon....who's dat? Oops have to wipe off the strawberry jam that just dripped onto my IPad....mmmmmm good. Compliments of Prairie Sharon

  3. Glad you are enjoying the jam. Just made 8 more pints. This Prairie Grl is rocking'!