When I Retire

December 29, 2008 at 5:26 pm | Posted in Book Blather | 3 Comments

When I retire, I’m going to start getting really serious about books.

Ha ha, you think, how could someone be more serious than to read 400 books in one year?  Well, just imagine how much I could read if I didn’t have to work 40 hours a week!  Imagine being able to read something without those lingering work-related thoughts continually pinging in the back of your mind.  I look forward to years of blessed concentration.

There’s actually something else I have in mind.  It’s my fantasy job of shelving books at the library.  I’ve tried to cut back on my browsing, because I have a bad habit of getting swept away relocating books that have wandered from their correct Dewey decimal sytem placement.  Fiction is worse, because so many authors have the same last names that all their collective works will be jumbled together any which way.  I can lose 20 minutes at that stuff.  Just imagine if I could do this in an official role… I’d finally break down and buy an iPod so I could block out the sounds of the obstreperous patrons, their shrieking children, and their ring tones, and I’d just wander around, listening to audio books and shelving.  I’d run across all sorts of interesting things.  What bliss!

Everyone has a secret fantasy job, usually something that someone else does and hates.  I like asking people about this.  When my nephews were smaller, they shouted out “Pizza Man!”  (Not Delivery Guy, but Pizza Man, “because you get to cook the pizza!”)  A former coworker raved about the joys of riding a lawn mower around rich people’s lawns.  (I told him, “Honey, you could go do that now,” and he looked at me, said “You’re crazy,” and stomped out of the room).  One of my current colleagues wants to deliver flowers – another job that he could do today – and another wants to work in a boutique.  Probably the reason none of us are working these dream jobs is because they don’t pay as well as what we do now.  (Except for my man Rocket Scientist, who wants to design bionic limbs).  So that’s why we want to wait until we retire.  Maybe it’s also why so many people keep working past the traditional retirement age – we all really like working, we’d just rather pick something else.

There are probably some hidden gems out there that allow people to read on the clock, though again, they most likely don’t pay vast sums.  My dad, for instance, is an airplane mechanic, and when he has enough slack time to sit by his toolbox and read a novel, his supervisor gives him a thumbs-up.  Their airline has never had a crash in its entire history.  When all the preventive maintenance is done correctly, there’s not always much to do but sit, wait, and pray nothing malfunctions – but there’s still a need to have the crew standing by.  The same, perhaps, goes for other jobs as well.  I had a gal pal who worked as a parking lot attendant on the night shift, and she said she had maybe three patrons a night, who scarcely interrupted her novelizing.   The ultimate would be reading books on tape, though I’m quite sure nobody could bear to listen to my squeaky little voice for 12 hours, no matter what I was reading.

Alas, for the next two or three decades I’ll most likely continue to do what I do now, which is to work in a non-literary field, with those 40 hours a week isolated from reading.  After my retirement party, I’ll put on my coat and head directly through the library doors.



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  1. My mom said that even when I was little my dream job was getting paid to read. I’ve never been paid to read, but I worked in the library in college, and then later in sales at a couple of publishing companies. So I was at least close to books while I was working. Now if I could just get paid for the book reviewing, that would be a dream come true!

  2. Shelving is good, but I think cataloging would be even better. I want to be the first person to receive each new library book, read it, and assign it a call number. 🙂

  3. I worked in the library in college and would spend entire shifts scanning shelves and putting them back in order. Unfortunately, I worked on the floor with all the engineering and math books and there was nothing at all interesting to distract me.

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