The Lee Chronicles: Logging my first year of retirement

(Note: I am newly retired. The 2015-16 school year, which where I live began the day AFTER Labor Day, marked the first time in nearly 20 years that I was not in the classroom at the beginning of the new school year. Here is Part 1 of what I hope to be a continuing series of “Life After Work(ing).”)

For a reason I will not divulge right here, right now, I have not worked at my job as an educator since the middle of November, 2014, so getting ready for retirement was more of an easing-into for me rather than a leap of faith. I was not forced into retiring; as a matter of fact, I had planned to make this move before the 2014-15 school year, but my wife talked me out of it. She said if I could handle four more years, I would be able to collect my full Social Security benefit.
But things happened and, I repeat, even though I was not forced to retire, the time was right to walk away from teaching.
As I have not been in the classroom since the previous November, I did not approach Opening Day, 2015, with any sort of anticipation or trepidation. I worked the past 15-plus years in Special Education, a program whose summer “Extended School Year” was eliminated in Michigan as of last year, so this summer was no different than last summer. I didn’t have to go to the classroom, but because my pay was pro-rated over 12 months instead of nine months, I still got paid every two weeks.
My Opening Day was different than past openers, but no different than any weekday of the past three months. But instead of sitting home and going over my “honey do” list, I drove my son to Lansing. He quit his job in favor of something less stressful, so he had to go clean out his office, then go to the county clerk’s office to file some personal papers. Then we headed home.
Well, we headed TOWARD home. On westbound I-96 just a few miles from where we entered at I-496, traffic was at a standstill. I mean, it was a three-lane parking lot. I remember seeing construction on that side as we headed into Lansing, but I’m thinking there must have been some sort of accident to stop traffic dead.
So we turned around through the “Emergency Vehicles Only” escape route, and found ourselves on Grand River Avenue, heading west to connect with M-100, which reconnected with I-96.
But wait! There’s a McDonald’s, let’s eat.
We got back on the freeway, but had to stop at the Lowell exit for gas as the “Low Fuel” light and the accompanying bing-bing-bing” alerted us that we might not make it home without stopping.
The rest of the ride home was uneventful. Later that night it turned eventful as my son drove the car back to Lansing to grab a couple of things he forgot, then returned home again Wednesday morning, only to inform me that we were low on gas again, but he could not get his ATM card to work and the Low Fuel light was already on before he got to our driveway. (Sigh.)
And that was it. The evening was routine as my wife and I watched the second semi-final of “America’s Got Talent” and I voted for two of the singers, “The Professional Regurgitator” and the ventriloquist. (No names here because I’m too lazy to look them up.)
My wife went to bed and I stayed up past 12:30 to watch (my) Detroit Tigers pull out an 8-7 win over Tampa in the 13th inning. That’s something I could not or would not do if I had to work in the morning. Ahhhhhhhhh.
I think I might like this new lifestyle.


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