Tag Archives: retirement

On snowbirds

What if I told you that all of the defensive driving you learned over the years would finally pay off? All those times your mom reached for the steering wheel, pumped her imaginary brake and claimed we were all going to die when you turned 15. All those years navigating around ‘tourists’ who swerved anytime they heard a Chicago cabbie honk in the loop?

Well I’m here to tell you that it’s all been leading up to this moment.

Season has officially begun in Sarasota.

Yes folks, the snowbirds are back.

How do I know, you ask?

Well besides the increased frequency of observed recreational vehicles towing sedans with Ohio license plates and two-to-four beach cruisers adorning the front grills along 75 south, one can safely assume that in the two weeks following Christmas, the majority of seasonal residents have escaped the cold and ventured south for the winter (here’s your first bird reference of this post).

I, on the other hand, mark the official start of season at the date and time in which I witness my first old lady cross 5 lanes of traffic to make a left turn against a red light and somehow make it through without a scratch, dent or any awareness that the aforementioned event happened.

In this case it was 5:24 p.m. on Tuesday, January 12th.

Speaking of snowbirds, we actually had a woman walk into the office the other day and ask where along the Bayfront she should go to view the snowbirds she kept hearing about.

True story.

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I don’t know why we call them snowbirds. Squirrels seem like a better fit to me. You see like squirrels, (for those of you living in the city, squirrels are the small gray or brown rodents you may remember scurrying across the Quad in college) older generations manage to narrowly escape death by car far more often than most other creatures. Red lights. Roundabouts. Every single lane at once on the road. This is where you’ll find them most frequently.

But they shouldn’t be completely categorized as a nuisance. Instead, here are just a few reasons we should be thankful for snowbirds this season.

  • They teach us to slow down. Literally. It took me 4 minutes to walk from the entrance of the gym to the locker room because I felt too guilty to pass the sweet old lady in front of me Saturday morning.

You rock in spin class, Gloria!

  • They remind us that every day is Saturday when you’re retired.

Check out Suzie and Bob over there just hammering 2-for-1 Martinis at Bonefish on a Tuesday.

  • They get your children safely across the street, they drive cancer patients to treatment and they fill important jobs that make an economic impact on the region.

Perhaps Phyllis can make the best recommendation for a ‘supportive’ bra at Victoria’s Secret, given her years of experience and eagerness to not let gravity get her down. 

  • And they make sure all that defensive driving you practiced finally has it’s shining moment while going 75 miles an hour on the Interstate.

You are of course going 75. George? He’s going 40.

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The short game awaits

One of the perks of having a blog is having an open forum to celebrate the accomplishments of friends and family. But blogging has a dark side, too. Like when you realize your dad just finished his last day of work after nearly 40 years and you didn’t do much more than congratulate him over the phone and FaceTime him for his weekly technology troubleshooting session (additional charges do not apply).

We won’t go into the reasons for your unpreparedness. That he had mentioned retiring for the last two years, had set the date upwards of six times and like a boy who cried wolf (or a responsible guy concerned for the welfare of his department) kept letting that date pass.

But he finally did it. A reporter, turned press-secretary, turned Ag then coal guy, finally left his post with the State of Illinois after [dad please insert years of service in the comment section]. And like his better half, downtown Springfield will take another small hit this week.

Grab-a-Java will likely see iced coffee profits move from their downtown location to the west side of town. Starbucks will reduce their sweet and low and Starbucks Via packet bulk orders to accommodate for the loss of such a unique patron and shoe shine Joe will have to find a new guy to run his junk for cash ring with.

The good news is the State Fair is right around the corner and Murf can participate in his parade for turkey legs, drinking shake ups and shaking hands along the way.

Congrats on a well-deserved retirement, Murf! Now you have time to work on your short game. And figure out your iPhone.

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Hanging up the phone

I must admit I’m a little concerned for Springfield’s downtown businesses as they head into summer. Sure, with kids out of school visitors to the Lincoln sites will increase and give them a little cushion, but who is going to support them on a daily basis now that today marks my mom’s last day of work downtown in over 34 years?

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Who’s going to keep pots of coffee and iced tea fresh at Andiamo?

What is Incredibly Delicious going to do with their extra macarons, croissants, loaves of multigrain bread and raspberry-filled vanilla cakes?

And perhaps most importantly, who is going to support the commission bonuses of meter maids in the blocks surrounding 6th street and Capitol Avenue if not my mom? So what if she has a parking pass for the lot at the corner? This woman has spent years forgetting to feed the meter so the public sector can benefit. It’s just one example of her unwavering support of her local community over the years.

You see, after 34 years working for the State of Illinois, my mom is hanging up her phone. Sure, she’s moving on to bigger and better things, but in all the pension and retirement talks, I think we forget to see the economic impact that her pocket and purse-stored cash flow has on downtown businesses.

But you’ll see it at the Wednesday morning farmer’s market when you pass a solemn tomato seller who misses her best customer. You’ll see it in the eyes of her former co-workers when they go hungry for weeks on end in search of a breakfast quiche, or blueberry scones, or bread pudding. And you’ll likely see it from a big guy named Murf who will do everything in his power to buy up all the Starbucks via and sweet n’ low packets that downtown has to offer in the short month he has left before joining his wife for the next chapter.

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A chapter that likely still involves a lot of visits to downtown Springfield (and hopefully a few to Florida).

Congratulations to my mom on her last day of work and a well-deserved retirement! You’ve set a great example for working moms and we are so grateful for all of your years of hard work and sacrifice so that we could grow into the daughters you hoped we would be.

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p.s. I hope we did grow into the daughters you hoped we would be. And happy early Mother’s Day lest I forget next week 🙂