The Choice of A Woman (2) - Starting a jobless life In case of Ms. T -
I spent a long time of my career in an organization. After I left the municipal office due to the mandatory retirement, I chose to be jobless. Reaching the age of 60, male co-workers, who retired at the same time with me, moved on to the second career.
Perhaps, those male co-workers decided to be re-employed for economic reasons, but in my case, it seems I could manage to make my ends meet with my own pension and one from my husband who had retired earlier.
I could have chosen to be re-employed as well, but it does not mean I could work forever. I have no idea how many more years are left for me, but I want to re-build my life while I am still strong physically and spiritually. By doing so, more than anything, I want to set free myself who have been held back during the long career in the organization. Feeling slightly superior to those men who still need to work, I chose a jobless life without thinking twice.
It is riskier and harder than you imagine for a woman to survive in an organization.
The first workplace in the municipal office I was placed 38 years ago was a division with just over 10 people who were all male but me. The work included on-site tasks, so sometimes I found myself alone in the office to take phone calls. When I answered the phone, the caller usually said, “So everyone is out…” Being a woman, I was not counted as a staff.
Things changed and female workers are now a big part of the organization. But still, male workers are the main stream in terms of participating in various decisions as the management. It is still a male-dominated society, unfortunately. It was usually the case that I was the only female or one of a few females out of over 10 participants in a meeting.
“An organization and a male-dominated society” – I wanted to leave there and return to be just me after 38 years. My jobless life started from there.
There is no doubt that my days changed drastically starting April.
I used to leave home at 7:30 in the morning and returned home at 6 in the evening. Now I have that much time all for myself. It is so much time that it is amazing. While I was employed, I had meetings to attend, documents to sign, references to read, subordinates to manage…there were piles of things I needed to do.
Starting April, only limited tasks are assigned to me. Laundry and cleaning have been my husband’s jobs since when we were both working. Having become jobless before me and already managed to set own rhythm, my husband did not want me to change his way of life. He prepares breakfast and lunch by himself. So all I need to do now is to prepare breakfast for my son who goes to work, prepare dinner for three of us and look after our cat. What an easy life! It does not require 1 percent of the power I used to use. It is so easy that it makes me feel bored.
As I kept myself busy with work and home, I have lost interest in the other things. I used to love books as a little girl, but I hardly read these days. I have minimized my social life with neighbours and relatives also.
Since my daily tasks in the post-retirement life are so simple with preparing meals and looking after a cat, I felt awakened to a question, “Am I really up just to this?”
I said to myself, though, “Let’s start from here.” Let’s not accept a task or role against my will; I have made all the way to the age of 60; I managed to work until the mandatory retirement and left work without regret. I made up my mind to spend my remaining days focused.
Then, the first thing I worked on is to build a nest.
The municipal office building I used to work was like my own nest. The moment I left home, I reviewed the agenda of the day in my head and the moment I sat at my desk, I was already working. I continued the daily routine for 38 years and spent most of my life at the building. But it has become distant quickly once I retired.
The workers welcome me in a warm manner as I visit them after retirement. But of course, the work goes on without me and there is no longer a place for me, either.
A one-year-old Singapura joined the family last year
I started building a nest in our house. Built 100 years ago, the house is old and large with enough number of rooms but there was no room only for me. I never needed one because I had never had time to relax in my own room. I cleaned a storage room in the size of 6 tatami mats and created a space just for myself equipped with a desk, a bookshelf, a PC and a TV.
I sit here comfortably and welcome the start of my second life, as my faithful cat with wistful eyes keeps company.
Translated and Adapted by K.M.