Earlier this week, as she was beginning to knead my arms, the massage therapist said, “Yes, you are definitely still in transition,” meaning transition from work to retirement. I forgot to ask her how she knew. Was it the state of the muscles she was working on? Something I said? Something in my voice? I believed her, despite not having any information about what led to this comment. Then yesterday, over lunch with my friend Sylvia who retired more recently than I did, I learned that she doesn’t need a massage to tell her that she is still in transition. She is certain. But then I forgot to ask her how she knew.
Have you ever taken one of those tests that tell you whether you are outgoing, uptight, intelligent, or simply out-to-lunch, just by having you answer a few questions? Given that I failed to learn how people can detect someone in transition, I had to devise my own test, incorporating some of Sylvia’s “symptoms” with my own, to help you decide whether you, too, are in this state.
Directions: Answer yes or no to the following questions.
1. Do you enjoy hearing stories about your former workplace from people who are still working and suffering?
2. Have you gotten a nice letter from your phone/internet/etc. carrier saying that because you were a good customer they would forgive the fact that you didn’t pay last month’s bill, but that you would be doomed if you missed another one, and you thought to yourself, why should I have to take time out of my busy day to deal with the unsatisfying chore of bill paying? Borrrring.
3. Have you completely given up on house cleaning, feeling that you have retired from that job also?
4. Do you feel like you should be more productive, even though you can’t think of anything to produce?
5. Do you believe that having regular pedicures is your Constitutional Right?
6. Have you recently forgotten to pay your home insurance and gotten a call from your agent saying that unless you paid up this week your policy would be cancelled?
7. Are you worried you’re spending too much time doing gardening?
8. Do you feel a tiny bit guilty if you crack open a novel in the middle of the day?
If you said yes to all of these, you will likely remain in the transition stage for the rest of your life and eventually be considered clinically insane. If you only agreed with #1, you are too conventional for this test. If you answered yes to #’s 2 and 6, you are likely to soon find yourself moving closer to the street with no phone connection, garbage piled high, candles for light, and no running water. If you identified with #3, please hire a housecleaner. If you shouted “Amen” to #5 and #3 at the same time, you may need to look for a part-time job. If you said yes to #7, you will need to see your massage therapist often, and if you said agreed with #’s 4 and 8, you may need a different kind of therapist. If you miss work and want to return, you need immediate medical attention and should dial 911.
We all handle these transitions differently. If you have your own transition anecdotes, please send them along.