Golden Years

Are you ready for retirement?

| illustration by Charles MarshIf you'll soon be turning 65 and are thinking about retirement, congratulations. You will soon be joined by 10,000 other baby boomers who will turn that age over the next 20 years. And by the way, that's 10,000 per day. There are roughly 50 million senior citizens today, and that number will more than double in the next 30 years.

The current ratio of working age citizens to those over the age of 65 is 13 to 1. Before very long, that ratio will drop to 3 to 1. That translates to a smaller proportion of working people supporting a much larger segment of retirees. I don't know about some of you other baby boomers, but I'm gonna have a tough time getting three younger people to take me on, unless they start working an extra job. But then they won't have time to swing by Spec's for me on the way home.

Here's some more cheery news. American workers are about $6 trillion short of what they will actually need to retire comfortably. Sure, we could take care of that little problem if every man, woman and child chipped in a dollar a day for the next 52 years. Unfortunately, the bottom line is that 40 percent of us baby boomers ain't ever retiring.

But you know, that may not be a bad idea. Some of the people I know that have retired are even starting to act old, and frankly, they can be pretty boring. I got stuck in a conversation the other day about how tough the puzzles were getting on Wheel of Fortune. Or after talking for 30 minutes, they will always say, "long story short,” which then makes the longest story I ever heard three words longer.

But part of the problem with trying to continue to work is the stigma that older folks may not have the physical stamina or be as sharp as a younger worker. To give you an example, when I turned 65, the pharmacist started writing "take by mouth" on my prescription pills. Did he look at me that day, shake his head and think there was no way I'd figure that out? That's ridiculous. I would have eventually.

Now I have to admit that there are some perks when you turn 65 and retire.

1) If you move to a retirement village, chances are nobody there will ever notice you only have one outfit.

2) In the rare instance you do need to borrow a suit, it will generally only be for a wedding, a funeral or pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

3) If you're one of the 2 percent that still live with their parents, you might finally have the guts to tell them you're tired of piano lessons.

On the other hand, some retirees will be spending most of their days naming yet another cat, or trying to get on their computers, then listening to a two-hour accordion solo while holding for tech support.

Now although there are laws against age discrimination, most of the mainstream forms of employment never seem to have openings for us. So I decided to do a little research and came up with some actual jobs that pay pretty well and might appeal to you.

Professional Mourner - There's a company that will pay $70 if you'll agree to cry your eyes out for two hours at someone's great uncle Billy's sudden passing.

Fortune Cookie Writer - Yes, this is a real job. Some make up to $40,000 a year just for writing down the first dumb thing that comes to mind.

Professional Cuddler - I'm not making this up. Good ones make up to $80 an hour to snuggle with strangers. I've got a feeling most strangers would pay me twice that amount not to cuddle.

Anyway, I hope these suggestions help. As for me, I know I'll have to keep working until the day I rack up my third Silver Alert.  Although that should make me an even better fortune cookie writer.