I have been retired for nearly two years. In that time, I have begun to learn what works for me and what doesn’t. And except for somewhat worrisome propensities for online shopping and head injuries, I’m getting along fairly well.
Still, it has become increasingly clear that to optimize my retirement, I need help. As in hired help. I need to employ a personal assistant, or PA.
My PA could assist me by rapping my knuckles with a ruler every time I start to log on to Amazon, iTunes or any number of tempting websites, and by shouting “Duck!” when I’m about to take another chunk out of my scalp.
However, while such services would save me both money and flesh, they would not be enough to justify the hiring of even a part-time employee. Nor are they the main reasons I need a PA.
I would find a PA most beneficial when it comes to dealing with what I like to call the necessary but boring parts of retirement — Social Security and Medicare and all those other things that keep me from the retirement activities I enjoy.
One of my PA’s primary duties would be to serve as my tech expert (IT degree helpful). When it comes to things like television service, internet providers and cellphone plans, I’m willfully ignorant. Not only do I know nothing about any of this stuff, I don’t WANT to know anything about it.
While my wife and I are unhappy with the price and the service for just about all of it, I can’t for the life of me bring myself to do anything about it.
Every time I think about picking up the phone and calling an internet, TV or cell provider, something stops me from dialing. That something is the prospect of spending an hour on the phone with some guy whose thick accent makes me seriously doubt his name is Steve and if he’s anywhere near my time zone.
I know from experience I won’t be able to understand much of what Steve says. Experience also tells me that I’ll say “what?” 25 times, get angry and hang up on poor Steve, who is just trying to do his job and seems like a nice fellow.
Even if Steve speaks perfect English with no accent, I still wouldn’t understand a word he said. Streaming? Sling? Bundles? Data? Download speed? It might as well be Latin. Make that pig Latin.
My PA (foreign language proficiency preferred) would understand Steve AND what he is saying. His (or her) job would be to secure for my wife and me the TV, internet and phone services we want for the cheapest possible price, while I, being retired and all, sit out of earshot watching the Bogart marathon on Turner Classic Movies.
The other main area where I could use help is estate planning. Among other things, I need a new will and a complete review of all our insurance coverage. My will is 17 years old, and I suspect we are over-insured and are likely paying more than we should be.
But just thinking about calling an attorney or comparing car insurance rates tends to send me straight to the music room for as long as it takes to wipe the thought from my head for a few more weeks.
That’s where my PA comes in. I’m sure there is someone out there who absolutely loves doing this kind of stuff. So if that’s you and you should decide to interview for the position, you’ll score big points by mentioning the trust fund you set up for your children and how much money you saved by switching your car insurance.
If you’re lucky enough to make the grade, you could soon find yourself using your skills to secure my financial future and get me a great deal on a TV/internet package.
Don’t worry, I won’t expect you to do it alone. If you have any questions, I’ll be downstairs listening to John Prine and changing the strings on my guitar.
What’s that? Salary? Surprise! I haven’t really thought about it much. Every time I start to, I get distracted by the book I’m currently reading, checking my Facebook page or going to buy suet for the bird feeders.
I’ll tell you what. Why don’t we just add “thinking about salary” to the job description?
Doug Showalter is a former special publications editor at The Republic. He can be reached at [email protected].