by Marc Cullison (mcullison.com)
Getting older is full of choices and obstacles. They can be good, bad, or both. I suppose it depends upon your perspective. I have had six careers in my lifetime. Two of them are still with me. I guess you could say I’m one of those people who works two jobs. Actually, one of those jobs, writing, is incidental to my other job, but it is still work, nonetheless.
As a full time instructor at a nearby community college for the last twelve years, I have grown accustomed to just about anything life has to offer. There are the students, of course, with their myriad indulgences, complaints, and successes. Then the administration, which has progressed from a backward and archaic structure to a more rational and archaic structure. It’s not that I have a problem with this natural evolution of higher learning. It’s more like the fact that the students have moved into the 21st century and higher education is still mired in the muck of trying to teach students about future jobs of which we have no clue. And we’re still trying to teach with 20th century techniques.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not faulting the educational community. It is doing the best it can, under the circumstances. It’s not perfect, but what institution is? My word, just look at the federal government we have had for the last few decades. Or even longer. Just how effective has that been? Anything as large as education will take generations to change significantly. And in just twelve years, I have seen many changes. Some good, some not so good. It’s much like getting older. And the educational institution is getting older.
So that brings me to the topic of this blog. I have thought about retirement for several years. After all, I am old enough. But there is a major consideration that compounds my decision. Although I am currently enrolled in Medicare, I still maintain my health insurance through my primary job. Of course, my wife, who will not be eligible for Medicare for four more years, benefits form this arrangement. Should I elect to retire, I would lose that health insurance and so would she. Current insurance rates are not fair game for a sane and healthy person to consider, especially when those of us who are insured are essentially subsidizing those who choose not to purchase or cannot afford insurance. It makes for a tough decision.
I used to look at retirement as a period of recouping sanity and relaxing, enjoying the memories of one’s life. That was before I had seriously considered it. My father retired at the age of 62 and my mother never got the chance to do anything like that. Her life went on as if nothing had changed, except for my father hanging around under her feet all day and making her life even more challenging. I figured if I retired now, I might be the cause of similar issues in my own marriage. That and the fact that my wife would have no health insurance unless we mortgaged the house and cars to be able to afford it. I’m college instructor, don’t forget. We don’t get paid a lot for the grand service we perform for society: shaping the future our our youth and our country. We like our jobs too much, or so a lot of folks think. It’s not like professional sports, and other such professions, where you can like something, contribute little to society’s good, and get paid several times what you’re actually worth for doing that. Or the financial bigwigs who do nothing but manipulate money to make themselves rich at everyone else’s expense. I can’t really blame them. They’re human, after all.
It sounds like I’m rather opinionated, doesn’t it? Okay, I am. But I have no regrets about being a teacher. I’d do it again. Life has never been fair to everyone and never will be. You just have to face its challenges and make the most of them. So, I won’t retire, yet. I will wait out the four years and then see how the waters flow. By then I should be a bit wiser and can make a more rational decision, that is, if my body doesn’t protest too much. If that happens, I might be forced to retire anyway. Well, that’s life.