Thursday 18 April 2019

Broke and Sexy

In September 2018, I ran across this gentleman while I was on my way to the gym. I thought his sign was original and funny, so I gave him $20 and took a picture. I shared this with family and friends, explaining that I now realised two things:

1. I'm not quite broke.

2. I'm not quite sexy.

Since then, in the past 8 months, I've gone by this guy a number of times and given him a twenty-dollar bill. Now, that may strike you as exorbitant, "too" generous, but I can't help wondering about his circumstances where he has to beg in the streets.

I retired in 2018. In the lead-up to this extraordinary moment in my life, I had calculated everything left, right, and center: monthly rent, living expenses, VISA bills, pension, Retirement Savings Plan, etc. While working, I could expect a direct deposit in my chequing account every two weeks. After retirement, there would be no automatic credit to my account and yet, I would still be required to pay my rent at the end of the month. How the dickens was I supposed to make this work?

As I write this, I've now been retired for one year and three months. I'm not begging in the streets.

This past weekend, I had lunch with a childhood friend, Chad. We caught up on all that had happened over the past forty plus years and discussed retirement. I had heard it said that the golden years are only golden if one had enough gold and repeated the joke: "The only thing golden about my golden years is my urine."

Chad's American and I'm Canadian. His wife required cataract surgery last year and they incurred an unexpected medical expense of twenty thousand dollars. My doctor has told me I have a cataract, and I will, at some point, also have to have surgery. I didn't tell my friend my cost will be nothing.

Chad also told me that he and his wife are not quite making it. He has to go back to work to be able to cover all their expenses. So far, in my retirement, I've gotten by. By my calculation, I'm not going to need to go back to work. I have enough. I'm not rich, but I'm okay.

I may not be sexy, but I'm not broke. I also realise that I'm lucky. Old saying: "You can work hard and still lose."

Years ago, when I was twenty and knew everything, my father was trying to convince me to go to university, get an education, and find a career. "But, Dad, money won't buy you happiness." God, I was such a smartass.

My father paused, and then said, "You're right, son. But at least while you're miserable, you can be comfortable."

I'm happy to say that when I turned forty, I recounted this incident to my dad and said that I then knew he had been absolutely right. We both had a good laugh. I like to think my father would be pleased with my situation.


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