Retirement will change your outlook on many things. For me and maybe for you, one of those things is personal safety. One misstep or bad decision could compromise those well-laid retirement plans you’ve been looking forward to for so long.
If you’re like most people, once you hit retirement, there are certain things you are used to doing that now seem risky. That’s the way it should be if you’re taking your retirement seriously.
For me, it's climbing a twenty-foot ladder to clean my gutters or walking on the steep roof of my two-story house. I’ve done this many times in the past to sprinkle the roof with moss killer or clean out my gutters. These are necessary preparations for the winter rains we get here in Oregon.
Nowadays, I think twice about doing either one of these things. I still believe I can do them, but if for some reason I slipped and fell off the ladder or the roof, more than likely my healthy retirement and maybe even my life would be put in jeopardy.
At the request of my level-headed wife, I’ve turned the job over to someone else willing to take the risk. I’m in good shape and believe I could do it, but hey, that could just be my ego talking. I understand her concern.
I may no longer climb on the roof, but that doesn’t mean I’m in the clear when it comes to making unwise decisions. Let me tell you about the one I made the other day.
We had a day of freezing rain here. Everything was covered with ice. Nothing was moving. The following day was “garbage day” and the can needed to go out the evening before. I figured the garbage trucks wouldn’t be out the next morning, so I didn’t put out the can. I was right. They didn’t show up.
That afternoon, as things were thawing out, I heard the truck. It was out and only a block away, so I decided to take out the can.
Here’s the problem. The can is up by the house. I have to take it down a ramp walkway to the street. It’s about 30 feet and made of cobblestone pavers. I moved the can to the top of the incline and realized it was still iced over. I thought about it and decided “I can do this.” That was a bad decision, and here’s where my bad decision was proven out.
I needed to get the can to the street, so I figured if I got down in a stooping position, I could slowly work my way down to the bottom. If I slipped, I wouldn’t have far to fall and wouldn’t injure myself. A logical decision, right? Well, it was in my mind anyhow.
I took one step, and my feet went out from under me. I started sliding, picking up speed along the way. There was no way to stop myself.
At the bottom of the walkway is one step. The garbage can and I launched off the step, and we both hit the ground with a thud. I landed on my right butt cheek with the garbage can on top of me.
It must have been quite the sight. A YouTube moment for sure.
I quickly got up and brushed myself off. My first thought was "Well, that was a bad retirement decision." Fortunately, I was uninjured. I looked around. No one saw my misadventure, so even my pride was still intact. For retirees, the most common household injury is a fall resulting in a head injury or a broken hip. I was lucky.
My point here is that as a retired person, you (and I) don’t want to do something stupid and put our retirement in jeopardy. We need to pay closer attention to the things we do and make wiser decisions. Sometimes that requires us to swallow our ego for the sake of not only our retirement but also that of our spouse. If you screw up yours, you also screw up your spouse's.
The garbage could have waited another week. It wouldn’t have been the end of the world if it hadn’t been picked up. In retrospect, it really wasn’t that big of a deal. A cracked skull or broken hip, on the other hand, would have been.
I don’t expect anyone to wrap themselves in cotton. I know I don’t plan to. What I do hope is that my bad decision will get you to give certain things you do a second thought before you do them. “Think them through before you do.” I plan to do a better job at this.
As a side note, I have to admit, sliding down that ramp brought back some fond childhood sledding memories. I was much younger and much more resilient then.
Be safe. Make wise decisions and have a wonderful retirement.
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