I recently retired after a 21-year career with the same company to write full time. A colleague calculated that I had spent 252 months, 7,560 days, 60,480 hours and 3,638,800 minutes on the same job. No wonder I was tired and ready to leave.
It’s been nearly a month since I embraced my inner writer and I have found it to be a period of adjustment and reflection. It has also provided some interesting revelations:
My commute is shorter. If I come through the family room, it is exactly 32 steps from our bedroom to my workstation in the kitchen. It is 4 steps longer if I come by way of the foyer. I like to mix it up for a change in scenery.
I get fewer jokes in my e-mail. It seems my former co-workers were a much funnier group than my family and most of my friends.
Daytime television sucks like a Hoover. I write most of the day, but by 2:00 or so I am looking for a diversion and afternoon TV is definitely not doing it for me. Oprah, where are you when I need you?
Apparently word has gotten out in the neighborhood that I am now home during the day and I have become the go-to person for a variety of favors: “Could you let the dog out?” “Can Johnny stay at your house after school until we get home?” “Would you water the plants while we are in Hawaii?” Seven-year-old Johnny was a pure delight, but the dog turned out to be Yorkie with a Napoleon complex who growled and snapped at me and piddled on the Oriental rug. Our next-door neighbors returned from Hawaii tanned and rested and I discovered I was allergic to philodendrons.
I have a closet full of “business casual” clothes that I will probably never wear again. My writing wardrobe now consists of jeans (my daily dilemma is boot cut or straight leg), sweatshirts from the various places we’ve traveled to and, on some days, my pajamas.
I can now take advantage of the Macy’s Wednesday-only 10:00 am to 1:00 pm sales I missed out on when I was working. Of course, I no longer need to replenish my wardrobe, but it is comforting to know I could avail myself of those savings if I wanted to.
The phone rings all day long. Since we have caller ID I can sort out my friends and family from the 800-number callers who are trying to sell me new windows, clean my chimney, ask for a donation, or who want to know if I prefer Crest to Colgate. Clearly, my social life withered while I was working; the nuisance calls outnumber the welcomed calls by 2 to 1.
When writer’s block struck at work, I would wander the halls aimlessly in a futile attempt to escape my computer. At home there are myriad ways to avoid the blank page. For instance, just today I cleaned the lint filter from the clothes dryer and then counted all the tablets in the new bottle of Tums to be sure there actually were 96 in the container.
Like many offices, my former workplace was a goody palace. Home-baked cookies in the kitchen, M&M’s, Hershey Kisses, jelly beans and pretzels positioned around the office all shouted my name and I answered their siren call to the tune of an extra five pounds. At home, only high-fiber veggie bars beckon me and I have no trouble ignoring them. I only have four-and-three-quarter pounds to go.
Favor-seeking neighbors aside, writing from home is a solitary endeavor and I do miss the camaraderie that came from working with the same group of people for 21 years. My loneliness was made abundantly clear to me when the UPS man delivered a package last week and I followed him down our driveway in an attempt to engage him in conversation. The panicked look on his face suggested we may never get our UPS packages delivered again. My husband pointed out that if it was conversation I was seeking, it would be a lot safer and we were more likely to have our packages left at our door if I answered the 800-number calls.
He’s probably right.