Retirement blues

Government servants and military officers have the advantage of knowing their date of retirement the day they join service. Plus, they have a process called Leave Preparatory to Retirement that, in theory, allows them some free time to set their life in order before they quit office. Unfortunately, in the private sector there is so much worry on holding on to a job itself that there is no time even to plan for a retired life.

It is a cultural shock when you comprehend that your working days are history and the perquisites of office stop suddenly. Within a few days of my retirement, invitations to soirees seemed to disappear. All the Holi and May Queen ball celebrations at five star hotels went on perfectly without my presence. I was now a person without an identity. I paid (earlier I was invited) and attended a couple of conferences after my superannuation. One industry bigwig asked me for my business card. I felt embarrassed to inform him that I was retired and blabbered that I was out of business cards. The next day I went to a neighbourhood printer and had cards made proclaiming me as a ‘consultant’.

I soon realised that I had a lot of time on hand, particularly in the mornings. I decided to bring all my management skills into the running of the household. I went around my apartment examining every nook and corner for deficiencies in housekeeping. I discovered that the maid conveniently forgot that she was required to sweep and swab under the cots. Further, the window sills were covered with dust. She also used more than the required quantity of water to do the dishes. I brought all this to her notice. To my wife’s horror, the maid never showed up the next day. I believe that word had got around the building that our family needed to be avoided by any self-respecting domestic. I had to face severe recrimination from my spouse, too.

In college I had done pretty well in my electives on time and motion study and production planning and Control. This was the right opportunity for me to apply the best practices at home.

Because I was generally moping around, I ended up buying vegetables and provisions on my wife’s orders. I deduced that we were buying too much and too frequently just for the two of us. I decided to rationalise inventory control, and also implement the Japanese method of Just in Time (JIT) supply.

An examination of the refrigerator revealed a whole lot of bits and pieces of vegetables that seemed to be withering. I exhibited them to my wife and also put up a board in the kitchen that read “Practice lean and JIT production. Inventory is waste.” Well, I learnt my wife’s feelings the hard way. Everybody should experience the once in a lifetime experience of eating sambar containing an eclectic mix of leftover brinjal, radish, cabbage, okra, pumpkin, bitter gourd, snake gourd, yam and sweet potatoes.
I made a strategic retreat after that, and nowadays spend more time on the golf course.

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