Cup O’ Joe: 4th Serving

Unless you are a bouncer at Good Old Days, don’t bother asking me my age.

See, I’m sort of like a girl (and not just in the way I throw). I really don’t like people to know how old I actually am. It is a dirty little secret that I am a senior and will soon have to leave college life behind and enter that “real world”

At this frightening point in my life, I feel like a toddler standing at the edge of a pool. I am terrified to get wet, but I know sooner or later some jerk will toss me in.

What’s the hurry though? Why do we have to rushed into a world of sink-or-swim? Maybe we have been doing this all wrong. Maybe we are living our lives backwards.

Maybe instead of jumping right into the pool, we should sit at the edge and just dip our feet for awhile.

So brace yourself for the revolution because I am about to drop the Arleth manifesto on you.

Today, I officially announce my retirement.

Before you roll your eyes at me, just hear out my argument. The average person retires at the age of 65 (the number becomes something more like 12 when you factor Joe Paterno and Ric Flair out). So we retire with our savings and enjoy maybe 15 years if we are lucky until we are living in a hospital getting sponge baths. Basically we work our whole lives away and reserve our “fun time” for when we are too old to have any real fun.

Here is my basic premise. Why wait? Why not enjoy that sponge bath now when we are in the prime of our lives? Wouldn’t that be the most efficient use of our time? Wouldn’t the world be a better place? Wouldn’t you appreciate a sponge bath more at age 25 than you would at 85?

This is how the plan would work. The day after I get my diploma, we will scratch the graduation party and instead celebrate my retirement. It will be a great time. I’m thinking clowns and slip-n-slides all over. Just picture Billy Madison’s 3rd grade graduation party. At this time, I should be around 22 years old. I will then take the next 13 years to do whatever I want. At age 35, I will come out of retirement and begin my working life until the day I die or begin forgetting peoples’ names.

Doesn’t this make perfect sense? This way, I won’t be wasting away my prime years sitting behind a desk doing whatever people with jobs do and then wasting my retirement years away laying in a nursing home waiting for my pills. Instead, I’ll be laying in bed at age 28 hoping for some aspirin pills to help with last night’s hangover and then spend my grey years as a useful member of society.

I know this plan might be tough financially. I figure I can just take the typical retirement job in order to make ends meet. So I’d spend a few days a week being a greeter at Wal-mart or maybe an usher at Phillies games.

This money would directly fund all of my retirement activities. I’d spend it on everything from cruise reservations and skiing lessons to buying bread to feed the local ducks with. Anything left over would be used to hire kids to shovel my driveway and mow my lawn.

My very-early retirement wouldn’t be a complete rejection of the typical retirement plan. I am not planning on simply traveling the world, experiencing crazy new things, and drinking unhealthy amounts. That would just be like taking the college experience on the road. Instead I will work to find a stable balance between crazy youthfulness and normal retirement practices. I think I would enjoy weekly cards games and golfing every morning. I might even give mall-walking a try.

On a serious note I feel like I could use my retirement years for a lot of social good. With the free time I could maybe coach a youth baseball team or join the big brothers program. I’d have more time to volunteer in my community. I’d have a better chance to connect with my family and friends without the hassles and stress of work getting in the way.

Most of the critics of my plan claim that it will be impossible for me to get a job after over a decade of doing nothing. First, I would argue that I’ve been doing nothing for the last decade anyway and you all still expect me to get a job this summer. Secondly, just picture how the job interview would go.

Hot shot company guy- So Mr. Arleth, I have to ask you about something curious I found while looking over your resume. It appears you have quite the gap between the years of 2010 to 2023.

Mr. Arleth- Oh, well I took a lot of lessons. Learned how to paint, play the guitar, and water ski. I even dabble in some karate. I watched a baseball game in every major league park and even played professional whiffleball for a few years. I’ve moved a lot. Spent time living in Florida, New York, Canada, Seattle, and Arizona. I’ve read a lot of books and played even more video games. I also fought in a civil war in a small South American country.

Would you really not want to hire that guy? I want to party with you cowboy. Plus, as a bonus the company wouldn’t really have to worry about setting up a retirement plan for me right? I’d probably be a hell of a worker too. After doing nothing for a dozen years, I’d most likely be pretty excited to actually have a job. Remember what summers were like in grade school? Everyone loved the time off, but come August you secretly started getting a little bored and wanted to go back to school to see all your friends again. Same story in this case.

I think this lifestyle would be healthier in the long run too. My buddy Matt told me that people who work later into their lives tend to live longer. I didn’t feel like checking this out, but I’m going to take his word for it (what? I am retired. Get off my back). This kind of makes sense though. Older people who work remain more physically active and mentally alert then those who retire away to their living room couches.

I understand that very early retirement isn’t an option for everybody. Some professions require the employee to be young, For example, I don’t think I’d be comfortable with a 67 year-old man climbing a ladder to rescue me from a fire. I think some occupations would benefit from this life style though. Wouldn’t a 36 year-old teacher with tons of world experience be a better hire than a 22 year-old immature college graduate?

I am a realist. I understand it is going to be hard to get a job once I graduate anyway. With a collapsing economy and a rapidly falling GPA (why didn’t anyone tell me we had an oceanography mid-term today?), the job hunt is going to be rough. So I figure I’d rather be self-unemployed anyway.

My friend Becky and I agreed this plan can turn out one of two ways. It could work, and I would be one of those guys living on tropical islands, writing books, and giving motivational speeches at highschools. It could also be a disaster and I’d be living in a card board box on the side of the road begging strangers for money and old friends for a place to stay. I’d be fine with either scenario. I think my friends would give me a place to stay anyway. They owe me for babysitting their kids all those years ago when I was retired and they had work.

So that is my very-early retirement plan. Currently I am thinking about turning it into a documentary or maybe a book. If anyone is interested in filming me for the next 13 years, send me an email at Jmarleth@bloomu.edu. The way I see it playing out, we will enjoy life for a while, release our finished product at age 35, make millions of dollars, and retire a second time. That’s called beating the system.

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