In my last post I mentioned that the Doc has been talking about retirement lately. Not talking, actually. Either mumbling to himself or ranting to no one in particular. I’ve tried not to pay too much attention. He mumbles and rants about lots of things and this ‘retirement’ business seemed to be just one more. So what? He likes to rant, I like to bark at squirrels. We’ve never asked each other ‘why’.
From what little I was able to figure out from his retirement rants it seemed, until recently, to have nothing to do with me. Retirement has to do with jobs, and like I said before, I don’t have one. But lately the content of his mumbles and rants has changed. It hasn’t been ‘retirement, blah, blah’, but ‘retirement’ and other stuff that could create problems. For me. Job or no job. So I decided that when the appropriate moment presented itself I’d ask about it.
This morning, on our walk, I got my chance. It was dark and drizzly, which seemed appropriate to the subject given the tones in which I’ve heard him speak about it over the last bunch of months. It was that tone that put me off to asking about it earlier. Why go looking for trouble? Anyway, after I’d done my territorial maintenance, and before we had to go up all the stairs, which makes me pant a little, I brought it up.
“So, Doc, what’s all the grumbling about ‘retirement’, and what does it have to do with ‘moving’, and ‘leasing the house’?” (These were the things I’d heard that had gotten my attention. I’m fine right where we are, except for the stairs. On the walk and in the house. No stairs would be good.)
He stopped and looked at me for a minute.
“You heard that, huh?”
“Hard not to. I’m a dog. If I was half deaf I’d still hear better than you.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right.”
Then he got quiet again. I’m not sure what he was thinking about but I hoped it wasn’t the hearing thing because there’s no ‘probably’ about it. Even mom tells him he needs a hearing aid.
“OK. I guess you should know.”
Another pause. It was starting to give me the creeps and I barked.
“All right, all right! Jeez! It’s like this…”
For the next ten minutes we stood there at the bottom of the stairs while he explained things. Some of the stuff was a little obscure, like what, exactly, he did at work all day but the gist of it was this: he’s been doing his doctor job for a long time, since way before I was born. It’s been good in a lot of ways, but it’s a ‘high-stress’ occupation. (Why anyone would choose high stress over low stress is something I’ll have to ask him on another walk.)
Besides being high-stress it’s also become highly annoying. The reasons for this are, again, a little murky to me but they have to do with the government, (another one of his favorite rants), the ‘computer’, (apparently there is a lot of up-loading he has to do now that he didn’t have to do in the past and it gets in the way of actually doing his job), Obamacare, (favorite…), and the fact he has to work harder than ever now just to ‘break even’, whatever that is, though he made it seem like a big deal.
“Or, maybe I’m just getting too old for this shit.” Now we’re getting somewhere.
I let that settle for a moment. He was getting a little worked up and we still had to go up the stairs, if you know what I mean.
“So ‘retirement’ seems like the obvious choice. No work, no stress. Simple.”
“Not exactly. One of the great things about being a dog is that you have no concept of money.”
There are a lot of great things about being a dog. The hearing, the smelling, the running, digging, squirrel chasing, napping, getting petted—all great. I’d never even considered the money thing. He was right. I had no idea.
“You mind explaining that?”
“Fine. The way the world works, if you’re one of us, I mean, me and mom, and most other humans, is that in order to get by in the world you need to have money. It’s what we use to pay for stuff we need, like a place to live, something to eat, clothes, cars, dog treats, all of it. In order to get money people have jobs. At least that’s the way it used to be though maybe not so much these days, but that’s another discussion.
“Anyway, I’m one of those people who makes money by doing a job. It’s a difficult job and it took a long time to learn how to do it well and I get paid more than a lot of other people whose jobs are less stressful. (Ah—no need for that conversation). So, when I stop doing my job, when I retire, I stop getting paid. But I’m still going to need money. So that means I can’t retire until I’m sure I have enough money to last until, well, you know.”
“Not really. But I think I get the main concept. You need money after you retire and you’re not sure if you have enough. Is that about it?”
‘Concepts’ are not exactly my strong suit. I operate more on instinct and impulse, which has worked out pretty well so far. But since I asked the ‘retirement’ question I figured I had to let him answer it his way. The Doc is big on ‘concepts’.
“Almost. I’m not sure if I have enough saved up but I’m pretty sure that if I put the house to work we’ll be fine.”
O.K. Now things were getting really weird. I like the house. Love it. Very cozy. But no way I see it ever getting a job. I mean the most it ever does is make noises in the middle of the night, like it’s stretching or scratching at something, scares the daylights out of me, but I’ve never seen it actually move. I don’t consider myself lazy, despite my employment record. I do lots of things. But the house just sits there. What kind of job does he think the house is qualified for? I cocked my head in the way dogs do that people understand as meaning, “Huh!?”
“I mean we could lease it out to other people and use that money for retirement! The place is worth a small fortune and we owe practically nothing on it. The only problem is that we would then need to figure out where to go.”
It was my turn to be quiet. I thought about what he’d said and it all started making sense, in a weird, human kind of way.
“Leasing the house sounds a little complicated. If you want to get your money back why not just sell it?”
“Excellent! But if we sell it we have to pay taxes and fees. We’d have a lot of money, but probably not enough to buy another place like it if we changed our minds and wanted to move back to this neighborhood.”
I cocked my head again. For someone who’d never thought about money before I figured I was doing a pretty good job keeping up but this was getting a little deep.
“Never mind. You don’t need to know all the details. Only that leasing gives us options that selling doesn’t.”
“But then we’d have to move, right?”
“So where do we go?”
“That, my pal, is the big question.”
I thought about what he’d said, and took a look up the long stairway ahead of us. “Just so you know, I’m pretty flexible and I’m sure I’ll be fine wherever we go. But I do have one request.”
“Yeah? What’s that?”
I turned to the stairs and made a low growl.
“Understood. No stairs.”
He started to laugh, which made me smile, and we started the trudge back home.