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Words from Winterbilt

Retirement - Looking Down the Road

Shannon Bohrer

(May, 2010) I  recently retired after 42 years in law enforcement and I very much enjoyed my career. It was very rewarding work and I know that I was very fortunate to have such good and long employment. I was also lucky that, when I set a retirement date, some associates of mine asked me to work with them on a project. The project is like continuing my work on a part time basis. So while I have retired from full time employment, I am still working several days each month and continue to associate with some very good people. Additionally, the part time work includes a little traveling, and I look forward to the trips when my wife can join me.

Just prior to my retirement, I was at a luncheon when someone asked me why I was retiring. I responded that I liked my job, the people I worked with and enjoyed coming to work. I continued that from my perspective I am paid a very good salary to do something I enjoy, which makes me very fortunate. Additionally, I have a wife I love (38 years of marriage), a home that I enjoy very much and a long list of things that I would like to do. Besides, everyone has to retire sometime.

The person that asked the question thought for a while and then repeated, "But if you like what you do, why are you retiring?" I thought for a moment and responded with the analogy that when you teach someone to drive, they tend to fall into two categories. One group always looks out over the hood of the vehicle and literally as far ahead as they can see the road. The other group tends to look over the hood at the road directly in front of them. Both perspectives have their advantages and they both have disadvantages.

The advantage of looking far down the road is that the operator is taking a longer view of what's ahead. The disadvantage is the driver can miss hazards that are close. Conversely, the driver that looks directly in front of them tends to see the immediate hazards, but misses the larger view.

For a long time, I tried to have both perspectives, but felt I was not always attending to important matters and I needed more balance in my life. I added that I was too old to be in the rodeo, but I wanted to retire before I was too old to be in the parade (not literally). My reality is that I want both views, and converting from full-time to part-time will allow me the time I need; at least that's the plan.

One of my first part-time jobs was to teach a class in San Antonio Texas. I approached my wife with the proposition that she travel with me on this trip. We have both been to San Antonio before and we very much enjoyed our previous trips. And, as luck would have it, we would be in town for the first weekend of the San Antonio Rodeo. My wife agreed and I made the arrangements. We would fly to San Antonio the first Wednesday in February. I had a presentation on Thursday and we then would have the entire weekend to visit the historic sites and see the rodeo. Since we would be gone for five days, my wife made arrangements for her sister to stop at our farm and feed the horses and chickens.

Everything went according to plan, with one little glitch. While we were in San Antonio, Maryland had a snow storm. Before the snow started, my wife called home and talked to her sister. Her sister told her that since it was suppose to be a lot of snow, she was moving to our farm with her twin 9 year old boys. It turned out to be a lot of snow and her sister and the twins were snowed in for two days. We called several times, and by the second day, thanks to our wonderful neighbors, the farm was plowed out and her sister and twins went back to their home.

We had left Maryland on a Wednesday and were supposed to be back home on the following Monday. Watching the national news in San Antonio, we realized another snow storm was due in Maryland on Tuesday and that it may be more snow than the first. I advised my wife that we would be home before the next snow. I was wrong. Our flight on Monday was cancelled and there were no other flights that were available. We re-booked for Tuesday morning and called her sister. Once again, her sister and twins moved to the farm.

Very early on Tuesday, we boarded a flight from San Antonio and landed in Chicago, but our connecting flight to Baltimore was cancelled. We eventually left Chicago on Thursday and finally arrived in Maryland. However, our road was still closed and we spent the night at my wife's sister's home. Of course, my wife's sister was still at our home. On Friday afternoon, the County opened our road and we arrived home, home being at the end of the driveway with a walk through deep snow.

Later that evening, after the driveway was cleared with help from our great neighbors and after my wife's sister and her children had left, my wife told me that the twin boys had left us some notes. Since they were snowed in for several days they were supposed to be doing their school work but they also left us several written notes. A few of the notes……

"Aunt Sue & Uncle Shannon, Mom and us went out to feed the horses, mom fell down in the snow and could not get up. Later she did get up and fed the horses. We came in and had hot chocolate and mom had a beer. Joe & Tom"

"Aunt Sue we thank you for letting use sleep over night here, Love Joseph"

"Welcome Home. BY the way can you get us out of the snow - Yeah"

My wife and I enjoyed the notes and my wife commented that she would not be going on my next trip.

Even when you look down the road, the trip may not always go as planned. However, often you can find unexpected rewards, even when things don't go as planned.

Read other articles by Shannon Bohrer