Friends and relatives are asking — somewhat timidly in some cases — what I am doing to occupy my time now that I no longer have a job to report to. They ask cautiously, I think, because they may be afraid I’ll tell them that I lie sadly in bed all day. Or I sit in a chair gazing at a blank wall waiting for the phone to ring with a job offer. Or I drag my sorry self around the house sulking at the bad hand I’ve been dealt.
The truth is, I do none of those things. That’s just not me. Life’s too short to walk around worried and depressed. With the condition of the media in general and broadcasting in particular these days, I expected to lose my job sooner or later. And I’m resigned to the fact that there probably aren’t going to be any reporter job openings in these parts for a while.
My wife, Sherry, has a good job, we had time to accumulate an emergency fund, we have some savings, we have little debt and my former employer gave me a generous severance package. So I don’t fill my days fretting or wondering about the future. Things will work out. They have when I was “downsized” three times before this in the past 44 years.
So here’s the answer to the question. Here’s what I do each day. First, just like I did when I was working, I still rise a little after 6 a.m. to spend some time with Sherry before she leaves for work. I still stay up late just like I did as a second-shift radio newsman. And I still take a midday nap just like I usually did before reporting to work at 2 p.m.
But instead of going to work I now spend the day accomplishing a variety of tasks and crossing them off a checklist in my computer as I get them done. I do routine things, like mowing the lawn. And I do some not-so-routine things, like plumbing repairs.
Here’s what I did today: I read the morning paper cover to cover as I sipped coffee and listened to the news on TV. I walked to the post office and picked up our mail. Then I read it when I got home. I installed some new pull handles on a drawer that needed rehabilitation. I loaded some dishes in the dishwasher and washed the dishes in the sink. I sorted through and analyzed all of our life insurance policies (something I’ve wanted to do but haven’t had the time to do for months) to determine if our coverage is still adequate.
I checked my e-mail several times and wrote some e-mails. Two of our four children called, and I spoke to them at length on the phone. I fed the cat and had some lunch myself. Today was garbage and recycle collection day, so I put away the garbage and recycle containers after they’d been emptied.
I spent a few minutes relaxing in my workshop, puffing on a cigar while watching a re-run on TV. I helped clear the table after supper, which Sherry had prepared after coming home from work. I made an online donation to the Cancer Society because my friend Brian is going to walk 12 hours straight to raise money to fight the disease and needed pledges.
I conducted a 45-minute phone interview for a freelance magazine article I’m writing. I watched a few minutes of evening TV with Sherry and sat in the hot tub with her to unwind. I checked out a blog written by my cousin Don’s wife, Jeanette, about the tropical island on which they live.
Now Sherry’s in bed, it’s after midnight and I’m writing this blog. When I retire in a few minutes, I’ll read myself to sleep with something from the nearly 2-foot stack of books and magazines that Sherry complains about beside my bed.
As you can see, my day was varied and full, and that’s the way I like it. Sure I thought at times about my former job but only in the context of how much I miss seeing my former co-workers.
And I tried once or twice to imagine what new, interesting job might be awaiting me in the future. For the length of my severance agreement, though, that job cannot be one that would violate a non-compete clause that is part of the agreement.
Hey, maybe I’ll just be a Wal-Mart greeter!
Copyright 2009 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.