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BBHQ Boomer Essays:

Boomer Retirement, Part 3: Do Not Go Gentle

Our Boomer-In-Charge at BBHQ, Hershel Chicowitz, writes about boomer memories and current events... from a boomer's perspective. He is sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, some-
times a little of each. We hope you get a kick out of our Boomer Essays.

Retirement — the so-called “golden age of life” — is, too often, a death sentence. Sitting on the porch in a rocking chair might have been an acceptable way for our great-grandparents to live the last 2-3 years of their lives. But it is no way for a boomer to retire! I am not trying to tell you how to conduct your life. But it seems to me that the old fashioned notion of retirement — at age 65, or even 67 — represents not only a terrible waste of resources, but also a major health hazard.


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[Update: Some of the references here are dated. Frankie Laine, for example, no longer performs... at least not for the living. But the spirit and basis of this essay is just as current as it was when I wrote it.]

My former neighbor, Mr. Don, is about two decades older than I am. But we were pretty good friends. We played some racquetball and drank some beer together on weekends, and traded tips to help save our yards from the ravages of the bugs. One weekend, over a Coors Light, Mr. Don revealed his age to me. "I'm two years away from early retirement, Hershel. The day I turn 62, I am going to walk into the union office and hand in my papers. I'm outta' there!"

That surprised me. Mr. Don is a pretty smart guy. As a hard-working construction worker, he was one of the best brick layers in the business. But continual encouragement from the union bosses planted and nurtured the idea. After all, aren't the union bosses looking out for the best interests of their people?

You figure that one out on your own, folks.

"Why in the world are you going to do that, Don? What are you going to do?" I asked.

"'Cause I'm sick of it. I'm tired of making up for all the slackers who get paid for doing nothing. I'm tired of the birdbrain bosses who let them get away with it."

"So, what are you going to do?" I asked again.

"I'm going to do absolutely nothing, that's what. I'm going to sit on the porch, drink beer, and do absolutely nothing."

Now, even at age 60, Don was a healthy, robust, active man. He climbed on the roof to clean out the gutters; he sludged in the water to build a dock on the lake behind his house; and he played a mean game of racquetball.

"That's nuts, Don. That'll kill you!" I said, only somewhat sarcastically.

"But that's what I'm gonna do," he said, defiantly. "Absolutely nothing."

And so he did... and it nearly did.

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