Retired but not Tired
I’m just trying to buy some carrots, but I can’t get to the bin where they are kept. Blocking my way is what appears to be a long married older couple bickering in the produce aisle. They are not moving. They are having a discussion. The wife is about to drop a heavy round head of cabbage into her shopping cart when an elderly man, obviously her husband, sidles up to her, bends down, and whispers, “Do you really need that?” She thought she did. And she’s not going anywhere until they hash it out right there in the aisle, oblivious to us other shoppers. All eight of us are jockeying for position and trying to respectfully get around them and their cart which is perched sideways, as they are manning positions fore and aft, and neither giving an inch.
There are various versions of this scenario playing themselves out all over the country at any given time. I witness these variations weekly. The husband is retired, that’s the common denominator. In this somewhat typical case, that is the problem.
I’m not saying that anyone’s husband shouldn’t accompany his wife on a shopping expedition. Of course it is necessary to agree on important purchases. Weekly shopping in a crowded food store is not necessarily a recreational activity, somebody could get hurt. Insulted even. The grocery store excursions and purchasing decisions are just not the best place to showcase the strengths and talents of newly retired men accompanying their wives.
People should be wary of the dubious condition of ‘retirement.’ Not everyone fares well in this situation. Activity is a good thing. Seniors could spend time mentoring others in their field of expertise or line of work, spending time with their grandchildren, mentoring at- risk or disadvantaged children, volunteering in hospitals and food banks, or reading to kids at the library. The life lessons they have experienced and the wisdom they have acquired are unique and valuable. Our seniors are not useless mannequins; they are a precious resource to be tapped because they can insightfully guide the rest of us on our life journeys, if we will just have the patience and take the time to listen.