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By Vicki Sternfeld-Rossi
The Times 

On Being Retired


February 22, 2024

It is official: I am now one of the many retired people on the planet. Friday was my last official day of employment, and on Saturday afternoon, I began the process of becoming a Washingtonian.

I had an appointment at the Walla Walla Department of Licensing (DOL) to apply for my Washington driver’s license. Last July, it took three and a half hours at the California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) to renew my driver’s license. When I walked into the Walla Walla office, I was a bit “freaked out,” as they say, because I was the only one there besides the two employees. Culture shock, to say the least.

With my last California DMV experience still fresh, I arrived at the Walla Walla office thirty minutes ahead of my scheduled appointment. After a quick vision test, they punched a hole through my California license, registered me to vote, and processed me for my Real ID. I was finished and back in my car before the actual appointment time. California DMV could certainly take some lessons from Washington DOL.

The company I retired from was also somewhat delinquent in its responsibilities. I assumed that on Friday at 5:01 p.m. I would be cut off from my business email account. I guess they forgot, and all weekend and Monday, I was receiving emails. Finally, on Monday afternoon, they emailed all employees an invitation to a “rainy day lunch.” I replied with a “decline,” which woke up the right person. I am now off the email list, whew! 

The good news is that Daniel is now more comfortable with his mail route. Now that the weather has calmed down, he gets home early enough to relieve me of dinner duty. I almost feel like a lady of leisure, but there’s still laundry that needs to be done, the dishwasher needs emptying, paperwork for taxes needs organizing, and floors need to be swept again and again and again. Mud is a constant. 

How did I ever do all of that and work, too? And it was only my first day of retirement. A retired friend gave me some sage advice for my retirement: “Just say no” to committees or volunteering for everyone and every organization that asks. It is advice I will take in, but I already have a few volunteer assignments I am happy to assist with. Of course, with the caveat that they don’t involve insurance or bookkeeping or interfere with my tennis schedule.

Soon, gardening will take up my time, which will help keep my volunteering in control. I have difficulty saying “no” to friends, so I am sure I’ll be involved with a few community activities. After all, retirement has its responsibilities, too.

Frequently checking my email is a hard habit to break, so I’ve made a goal: by Friday, I will not pick up my phone unless I’m expecting an important email.

I have been in contact with my friends and family in Southern California, and though it’s been a long time since I’ve been through So Cal flooding, I am sympathetic to the torrential rain, potential mudslides, and recent earthquake. Although it’s scary right now, there are some entertaining pictures of their dogs that, like Mugsy, develop exceptional bladder control to keep their paws dry. I’ve seen some very amusing rain gear on their dogs. I remind my friends that it’s dry here (for now), and there is indoor tennis and lots of wine. Hopefully, they will be tempted and come for a visit.


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