Working

I started working when I was twelve.  It was just a weekly lawn/garden job for Mrs. Beaty, the elderly lady who lived next door, but she paid cash each week.  Sometimes I got as much as four dollars for a summer afternoon’s work.  In 1972 that made me the richest kid on the street.

Or so it felt.  My parents didn’t really have many requirements on what I did with the money.  They encouraged me to save some and my mother opened a savings account for me at the bank.  It was quite a thrill at 12 to walk in the bank with five dollars and make a deposit.  Other than doing some savings, my parents attitude was, “You earned it, you spend it.”  I did start to notice them offering to buy me things less – things like tickets to the movies or the plastic car models I liked to build or even candy.  If I said I wanted something, say a new bike, the most common answer I got from Father would be something like, “With your job you could save up for that and get a real fancy one, but you do have a working one in the garage.”  But they stopped objecting to me buying Mad Magazine because, “It’s your money.”

I do recall a few lessons in budgeting from my mother.  My father was an accountant and a bit of a wise guy and he’d do things like explain compound interest equations and how in just 50 years my four dollars a week could be millions.  Thanks Dad.

There were things I saved up for.  I bought a clock radio with a cassette player, magazines, movie tickets, car models, and even a few parts for my bicycle.

I did learn a lot from Mrs. Beaty.  One of her favorite sayings was, “let your head save your heals.”  She loved roses and each year wanted one or two new ones planted.  She’d shuffle out with her walker, sit on the walker’s seat and guide me through planting it.  If I’d forgotten a tool or one of the many soil amendments she used, I’d get the, “Always bring everything needed for the job – let your head save your heals.”

In time I moved on from there to working part time as a dishwasher in a nursing home, then a couple of years as a security guard while I went to school learning electronics and computers.

Now, some 48 years after that first paying job, I find myself retired from a long high tech career and not having to work for money.  It’s a strange concept to me – not working.  I’ve always had some source of income – even if it was very small.  It was something that gave me not only independence, but as a sense of self esteem.  I could take the money out of my pocket and proudly say, “I earned this, I get to choose what to do with it.”

Oh sure, I have my retirement savings and investments and more than enough money to meet my needs, but not working just feels strange.  Sure, I keep busy.  The move to a new city and a new home has been a lot of work.  Honestly, I don’t see how I could have done it if I’d been working at a job.  I do have my hobbies and am looking forward to doing more there.

Still, I do sometimes miss the simple pleasure of finishing an afternoon work in Mrs. Beaty’s garden, collecting my four dollars and riding off on my old bike to the the drug store to buy the latest copy of Mad Magazine and a candy bar.

I don’t know where I am going with all this, but maybe Father would agree, I think I’ve finally saved up for that fancy new bike.

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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30 Responses to Working

  1. I think it would be lovely to not have to work a job every day, Andrew. It is nice to have the money but they buy your freedom.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. wolfsrosebud says:

    We all need purpose in life. Work gives us just that. Retirement is just a way of saying it’s time to transition into a job you like with flexible hours. Well written.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Baydreamer says:

    I enjoyed reading this recollection from the past and am glad you’ve got hobbies to not only keep you busy, but to also keep you content. So many people live only for work, so when they retire, they’re lost. We can’t wait for that chapter, so that thought process makes no sense to us, but only because we both have hobbies that we wish we could spend time on all day now. Hopefully, in a couple years; that’s the plan. 🙂 By the way, post a pic of the bike when you buy it. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If I did the math right, you are still quite young. I’d say a home business is in the offing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Christi says:

    Some people don’t take to retirement very well — I think you’ll do it right. Hobbies help, as does poetry. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Debra says:

    We retired in 2016, and my husband had quite a time adjusting to the concept, even though he liked his freedom. He had been working since he was 11, when his dad died. It did take awhile, but when he eventualy settled into it, he then started saying he wished he’d made the choice sooner. I think adjusting in such uncertain times as we are now experiencing just delays the process a little bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most of my retired friends say that they wished they’d retired sooner. It one of the reasons I went ahead and just did it. Getting connected is the biggest problem right now. With all the restrictions in place we’re still just living in a bubble and I can’t really move on to the activities I was hoping to get involved in.

      Like

  7. Dave says:

    Love this overview of your career from very first job to retirement. I relate to so much of it. My first job was similar – paid in cash with several “free” life lessons to boot. Then on to McDonald’s for a couple of summers, then an internship, then “real world” work. I’m retired in my late fifties with an father’s financial guidance and upbringing similar to yours. Even though I’m plenty busy with this and that I often think about the possibilities for an income. It’s part of who I am.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The only money thing I remotely worry about is medical expenses. I’ve got a few years before medicare and buying insurance for a non-worker is expensive. I do think from time to time to do some kind of income yearning thing to cover my insurance, but then my financial advisor talks me out of it.

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  8. It takes some getting used to – that retirement phase – but we are loving it. Still busy with lots of aspects that need our attention, but we can do it in our own time in our own way….or not.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Loreeebee says:

    growing up in the same era, I too started earning money early. Babysitting, house work, paper girl, you name it. As soon as I turned 16 and got a “real” job, I bought my own clothes. My first purchase was a long leather coat; I was soooo proud of that coat!

    Now retired too (from my real job) I call it puttering. Still like to “work” around the yard, but at a much slower pace and whenever I feel like it lol or the weather permits.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. dfolstad58 says:

    My parents would never approve of Mad either. It does feel like after retirement we still need to be achieving something. I have my club involvement with Toastmasters, there is bound to be one near you, that is just an hour or two usually a week. You can visit online as a guest for free. Toastmasters.org but that is just to keep your grey cells active.

    I also am an active volunteer on city committees and lately the public library board. That takes a little time also but not too much.

    I realize that money is no longer a driver for me, I enjoy my cycling, and other interests.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When we moved to Reno we’d hoped to connect with more local groups but the Covid restrictions have made that difficult. I do have plans for doing something – sadly it just seems to take forever to get things setup and started with all the move details.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. jfwknifton says:

    I never really liked Mad magazine, but I would defend to the death your right to read it.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Life was simpler in the days of MAD Magazines and candy bars! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Enjoy your retirement. You’ve earned it.

    Liked by 1 person

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