By Roger Crombie
Having dreaded the moment for years in advance, I finally reached pensionable age.
It wasn’t the birthday I minded — being old doesn’t worry me in the least. What I feared was claiming my pension. There would no doubt be forms and envelopes, deadlines and missing documents to deal with. I’m entitled to half a British pension, half a Bermuda pension and a private pension worth the princely sum of $45 a month.
The British pension was the easiest. They phoned me, sent letters and had the entire thing in place months ahead of time. No tax is charged on the pension when you receive it, but they tax it later, right after Christmas. I kid you not.
Bermuda doesn’t pay the pension itself. The Crown Agents, a British agency, do the paying. They take out income tax before they pay you. So much for Bermuda being a tax haven.
In the event, it all worked magnificently. Twice a month, half a pension appears in my bank account. Free money! Who’d argue with that?
That’s the good part of being what William Shatner called a ‘pensioneer’, a more active term that he and I prefer.
But enough levity. This part will make tough reading: sit down, breathe. It’s about retirement.
The end of work comes to each of us in its own way, but there is a universal set of milestones. I’ll tell you now, but you won’t think about it until you retire. Then, you’ll say “Hey! That mad guy was right.”
Songwriter Sammy Cahn was asked which came first, the melody or the lyrics. “First,” he replied, “comes the cheque.”
In retirement, first comes what I call the “the memo”, although you don’t actually receive a memo. If you did, it would say: “You are now non-essential personnel, confined to quarters. Thank you for your service. Go home.”
You are no longer needed on the journey. Once, you were the king or queen of your set, aware of what everyone was doing, the gossip, the intrigue. You were part of something grand. Once the memo happens, you become part of the sofa instead.
Is that my final answer? No.
If you’re in Bermuda, and the sun’s shining and everything’s simultaneously hunky and dory, then enjoy the couch and good luck. But many of us refuse to go gently anywhere, so we keep busy. Some have allotments, play golf or climb mountains. Others nap. We’re all different.
Deep down, though, we oldsters know that we are non-essential to all but our loved ones, the telephone company and the politicians who rely on our votes if they promise more comfort for seniors.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being a certified senior citizen. It’s a second childhood. You lot have to work. I’ve tried working; it’s horrible. It’s the worst thing ever. Ve byes is on permanent wacation.
By which, of course, I mean thank you on behalf of the old and the frail everywhere. Your contribution is most warmly appreciated.