HUNT COLUMN: On being retired instead of tired

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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By Cathy Hunt
School Board Chair

(Today’s column is taken from remarks I made at last week’s reception for TCSS retirees.)

As someone who has experience in being where you are now, I would like to offer a little guidance to help with the transition.

This summer will feel like a pretty normal summer — except that there will be no workshops on the calendar. And when the Fourth of July has passed, you won’t start staring at how many days are left on the calendar before pre-planning. And, for those of you who are invested in the Teacher Retirement System, there will be a glorious month or two when you get your final regular paycheck as well as your pension pay-out. That feels like winning the lottery to those of us in education!

However, come August, the first thing that will definitely feel strange is hearing the school bus coming down your street at 7 a.m. while you are — hopefully — lying in bed. There will be a moment of panic, and then a big smile will spread across your face as you close your eyes again.

When you do get out of bed, you’ll need to be prepared for other mental adjustments. For instance, you don’t have to put your coffee in a travel mug. Instead, use one of those 30 ceramic mugs you’ve been gifted over the years that say “World’s Best Teacher.” Also, you can have as many cups of coffee as you want, because – hear this – YOU CAN GO TO THE BATHROOM WHENEVER YOU WANT.

Next, you must learn to go to the store during off hours when they’re not crowded without feeling like you have to furtively duck around corners because you feel like you’re AWOL and don’t want to be spotted.

You can enjoy a leisurely lunch instead of holding a sandwich in one hand while calling a parent with the other hand all while taking a bathroom break. You must learn to chew your food slowly and thoroughly.

When you make plans with other retired people, you don’t have to ask, “What do your weekends look like?” You must remember that you can also make plans MID-WEEK if you want.

When posing for pictures that may end up on social media, you do not have to hide your glass of wine or beer behind your back for fear a student or parent will judge you for enjoying a grown-up beverage.

Now, this next one was really hard for me: If you want to sit down and read or watch Netflix in the middle of the day or, heaven forbid, take a nap — it is okay! As someone who has become used to going 90 miles an hour in your daily life, doing nothing might make you feel guilty or antsy. Don’t! You have earned some down time. That closet that has needed cleaning out for 20 years can keep its secrets for a while longer.

And don’t worry about getting bored. Actually, you must guard against saying yes to too many projects or people because you now have extra time and everybody out there knows it. Do just enough to make you feel useful and fulfilled. But if you really get to the point where you’re at extreme loose ends — you can always run for school board — where there’s never a dull moment!