In the summer, an old man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of retirement (with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson). After a week chock full of aggravating clients and obnoxious sources, my mind started wandering forward to that blissful destination further down the road.
There will be a time when I will announce to my clients that my services are no longer available, that my shingle has been unhung, that the keyboard – as far as work is concerned – has been closeted. The phone will only ring with solicitations from telemarketers, until I realize that I can tell AT&T to remove my office line. The e-mail will only ping with spam or messages from friends, and the latter more often than the former, I hope.
While I danced in the clouds of that future fantasy, I realized all too soon that some of the aggravations of my life will not be assuaged by retirement. These include:
Remote Controls. Whoever designed the remote control for our DVD player must have assumed that anyone using it would be in a bright room with a magnifying glass. The buttons for pause, play, and stop are close together and identically shaped. When I am falling asleep after a long day of doing nothing, I will be brought rudely awake by the challenge of figuring out which button to push to stop the damn movie.
Coffee. In my retirement, I shall luxuriate with coffee. As it happens, though, I like my coffee with lots of milk. I microwave it to get it hot again, but there’s always a slimy film that forms on the top as the coffee cools again. I will live with that slimy film until they can only give me coffee intravenously.
Nose hair. I once promised myself that if this column devolved into a discussion of bodily functions, I would stop writing it, but I’m not there yet. In my dotage, I will still have to deal with random nose hair. I’m not talking about the lawn inside the nostrils, although that will continue to aggravate me. I’m talking about the maverick follicles that sprout these fine little hairs on the outside of my nose. Why aren’t the follicles on top of my head so prolific?
Noise. I love my neighbor’s kids, but I’m partial to the one who wants to be pianist Jon Nakamatsu more than the one who wants to be basketball phenom Jeremy Lin. The way our houses are configured in our cul-de-sac, their driveway basketball hoop is right outside my home office window. I can’t wait until he goes to college — but I’m sure even then there will be others.
Point-of-sale devices. Assuming I actually have money to spend when I’m retired, I fully expect that I will have a devil of a time with the proliferation of point-of-sale devices. Buttons, stylus, yes/no questions, charity options, cashback options, all of them designed differently and with the added delight of being computerized, so the store can redesign the interface on a whim. Make it stop.
Dinner. One of the things I remember most clearly about my mother in my adolescence was her decreasing interest in making dinner. Now I know why. By the time you get to a certain age, you’ve cycled through all the interesting combinations of food, and making dinner becomes more of a culinary challenge and more of a chore.
Heck, if I’m going to be that aggravated all the time, I might as well just keep working.