Oh what a special number. Do you know what it represents? The number of bottles of beer on the wall? Nope. The hockey jersey number of the great one Wayne Gretzky? Nope. Give up? OK, I'll give you a hint! If you look waaaaaaay down on my sidebar you'll see that I've finally reached the double digits in my countdown to retirement!! Yahooooooo!! Remember when it was well over 1,000??? I sure do! Once in a while though I feel kind of guilty about enjoying my countdown so much - what kind of a teacher worth her salt wants to stop teaching so badly???
It's not the teaching I want to get away from or the long hours, the students or some of the people I work with. It's simply the cessation of being part of the RAT RACE, the never-ending turn of the hamster's wheel, the living of life for everyone but myself.
My time has come!! Almost. And I can't wait! Finally to have the time to do all of the things I've put off over the years. To read without one eye on the clock so I don't stay up too late. Wouldn't want to face the kiddies on less than enough sleep. To write without jumping up every few minutes to move the laundry into the dryer or run to the store for something I forgot to pick up for school the next day. To indulge in daydreams, walk in the forest, cycle to the beach and most of all - NOT BE ON A DAMN SCHEDULE!!
My advice to those younger than myself, with busy families and never ending household chores and responsibilities - don't wait til you retire to enjoy life - despite my blog title life really doesn't begin at retirement if you plan things properly - I didn't unfortunately so I've rarely been off the hamster's wheel over the past 40+ years.
I've been working hard since I was 12. I was born on a Saturday and you know that Saturday's child has to work hard for her money. Never a truer word was written! I remember every job and every painstaking moment many of them caused me. I've picked strawberries (my 1st job & backbreaking), raspberries (with a large bucket suspended around my waist, by a pair of nylons), cucumbers (that was when I learned cucumbers were covered in prickles that embed themselves under the skin like a million little slivers), rhubarb (the absolute worst - I had to soak my hands in water and baking soda to relieve the pain caused by the acidity - thank you mother dear for helping me through that misery!) and finally tobacco which was where the REAL money was. (My tobacco years will be addressed in another post, or two!!)
I also sold ad space in a local guidebook, did typing work for various people, and worked at a number of restaurants - a pizzeria, a diner and a Chinese Restaurant where for at least 20 years the owners offered me a job every time I went in to pick up food for a family get together - "no thanks"!! Though they did teach me the art of carrying several plates on each arm to save trips back and forth from the kitchen in where I washed by hand millions upon millions of plates. Oh yes, and an A&W! I had to wear the brown and orange uniform with the lovely brown cap and hang the trays of food from car windows.
Then, at age 20, while working at the A&W I heard about a bank teller's job opening up at the Royal Bank in Tillsonburg, a 30 minute drive from home. Yup, still with my parents but only for a few more months. I interviewed for the job, had to do a math test and typing test, and was chosen out of 50 applicants for the job. My starting salary was $6250 per year which worked out to $98 net per week. That was when I began to pay my mother $15 a week room and board. AND I didn't complain:)
The only NEW car I ever owned (besides a much later leased car) was during the time I worked for the Royal Bank in Tillsonburg. I took out a loan and bought a new Datsun for $4100. I loved that car! I continued to work for the Royal Bank in different towns and cities for the next 14 years ending up in London because I wanted to continue my university education. Over the previous few years I had been driving up to 2 hours 1 way sometimes 2 or 3 nights a week to take courses at the university. So I transferred to London and eventually quit working full-time and began working part-time while attending university full-time. It was a bit of a risk and I had to get OSAP to cover my tuition.
I was fortunate in that the Royal Bank gave me as many 4 hour shifts as I could squeeze in between classes so I could pay my rent and buy groceries. Even though working at a bank was not something I enjoyed they were good to me and I've always appreciated that.
After switching majors (from English to Visual Arts) which added an extra year to my schooling I graduated from UWO on July 7, 1990. Just over 2 months later, arriving 3 weeks early on Sept. 14, l990 I had my sweet Kazi. I had applied to teacher's college and asked for a deferment which they granted. I got to spend a whole year with my dumpling and began teacher's college in September, 1991. Finally, at the ripe old age of 36 I graduated teacher's college and began teaching that September as Kazi turned 2. Even then life was still difficult. 1992 was the year that the Ontario premier, Bob Rae, froze teacher hiring due to Ontario being in a recession.
I can't remember what exactly went through my mind the summer of l992 but I don't remember being worried. Fortune shone on me in late August when I received a phone message from a friend telling me about a visual arts position at the adult education centre. This was the weekend before school was scheduled to begin in September l992. I took my resume to the centre and immediately got a call to come in for an interview. They gave me the job and I had the Labour Day weekend to prepare my curriculum!
All I can say is that I was blessed with a child who loved her bed (still does) so she would sleep from 6pm to 6am on a regular basis giving me long evenings to labour over my typewriter (yes - pre computer era!) The rest is history. I LOVED working at the centre. What I didn't love was the fact that it wasn't permanent - no, I worked 10 week contracts for the next 7 years never knowing if enrollment would be high enough to run my courses. Thankfully it always was. The other negative part of the job was NO BENEFITS and NO PAY if I was off sick.
I think I'd better give you a break! When I started this post I had no idea it was going to become an epic autobiography lol!
So, do whatever you need to do and check back in with me tomorrow for more fascinating details in the "Life and Times of Jane"!