When I reached my mid-sixties, I began to lose touch with friends. Several died, some moved away after retiring, and some are still busy working. However, since I turned seventy, my list of new friends is growing. Why just yesterday, I received a letter from a woman running for the U.S. Senate in another state. The letter’s greeting was “Dear Friend.”
I receive emails almost daily from others who would become my friend if only I would give to their campaigns in “fill-in-the-blank” state.
My old friends (meaning those still living and living nearby) rarely telephone; they text. but my new friends can’t stop calling me. In fact, no matter what state or country they are calling from, the first three digits of their phone numbers match the first three digits of mine. Some coincidence. I’m only disappointed that they never leave messages.
Some new friends are — dare I say it? — robots. One calls weekly to tell me that the Microsoft product I purchased (they must forget I have a Mac) is defective and I must call them right away to get it fixed, no doubt by giving them my credit card number and bank balance. I want to suggest a voice box transplant to two of them, but I know all of us can be sensitive about criticism of our voices (my husband says mine is too loud and I say he mumbles) and I suppose I don’t know these callers well enough to recommend surgery.
Members of a newer group of friends seem overly concerned about whether they’re making a good impression on me. These include post office personnel, my family doctor, my chiropractor, bank tellers, the garage where I get my car serviced, and the shop where I get documents copied. It turns out that everyone hopes the time I spend with them is a memorable, life-transforming experience.
“How are we doing?” is the question of our age. Rate your oil change, stamp purchasing, cortisone injection encounter on a scale of one to five, with five meaning, “This was a peak experience.”
I’m glad I’m retired, because keeping in touch with all these new friends and responding to their concerns is becoming a full-time job.