By: Bob Grafe, Columnist
© Seguin, TX – There are wars and rumors of wars around the globe these days. Most of them I personally don’t fully understand and I certainly have very little impact on their outcomes.
However, there is a little “unspoken” war going on that a few local senior citizens have been quietly fighting—the war to save our country’s economy.
The verbal battles over which way the country’s economy should spin are being waged within the secluded and protective walls of government—but the real front-line warfare is taking place right at our local doorsteps.
While a few local seniors keep up the good economic fight—continuing to keep their private sector businesses operating, making payrolls, supporting community events, paying their business taxes—many other seniors this time of year go through the annual ritual of making new year’s resolutions. Frequently, those resolutions are about speeding up their “retirement” date.
They may be bored with their life’s work, mad at their boss, or maybe just impatient about “doing” all those things that they’ve always wanted to do—but can’t because they “think” their daily work interferes with their “preferred” schedule.
Some foster the notion that “early” retirement is right for them … and they pull the employment plug early and head off into their anticipated retirement bliss. Two months later they wake up and recall the advice given to them but not followed that someone provided years earlier saying, “Before you retire, stay home from work for one week and watch daytime television.”
Even current dictionaries are largely in agreement that the meaning of “retirement” as a noun in part means “The age at which one normally retires.” and “The state of being retired.” But, dictionaries also continue with their secondary (and often more stark) meanings such as “Withdrawal from one’s position or occupation or from active working life.” and “A place of seclusion or privacy.”
The Conference Board research group has been studying employment and retirement issues for the past 22 years. In a new survey, just released, they found that only 45 percent of workers are happy with their jobs—down from 61 percent of workers who reported being content with their employment in 1987.
Linda Barrington, Managing Director of Human Capital at the Conference Board noted in the study document that “It is two-way responsibility. Workers also have to figure out what they should be doing to be the most engaged in their jobs and the most productive.” Otherwise, the business will probably not be successful.
For many years now, three local gentlemen (all senior citizens) have been waging serious battles to keep their small businesses operating.
Joe Tocquigny of The Green Gate Nursery, Alfred Kolbe of Kolbe Flower Shop and George Ammermann of Right Way Lawn Service collectively have 230 years on Planet Earth—an average of 77 years.
Would it have made any sense to conclude that at age 65 these three businessmen should have acquired sufficient experience to effectively lose their jobs? That is what our country’s retirement “model” contends. Even earlier retirement for some models where the thought is that the “old” must make room for the next generation.
Keep in mind that none of these locals were operating their present businesses as they approached mid-life—a point at which so-called “retirement” was within view and reach.
All of them voluntarily took on the responsibility of providing goods and services to our community through the daily operations of their small businesses knowing that they would probably have to forego viewing Oprah on television in the afternoon, long European vacations, and even golf each day at 9 a.m.
Today, each of these private sector business warriors plans their business offense and defense strategies, engages the enemy (a sluggish economy) with precision strikes, defends and protects their business staff and local community homeland by “smart” decision-making, and by getting up every morning with all the aches and pains that the rest of us senior citizens endure—and mostly without making comment or complaint.
The private sector really is the life-blood of our local community. Without our local business men and women risking their own economic futures every time they switch on the “Open” for business sign, there would be little tax revenue gathered and paid for the benefit of those who provide the sometimes “needed” government services.
Tocquigny, Kolbe and Ammermann are truly local senior citizen “heroes” fighting each day to keep our economy thriving. As with our men and women serving in our military, please offer a tip of the hat and a sincere “Thank you.” for their service the next time you encounter one of these patriotic local businessmen.
All three of these business giants remind me in some ways of George Burns who remarked on his blessing of being in show business all of his long life, “Retire? I’m going to stay in show business until I’m the only one left!”