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How do deal with reaction to: "I'm retired" ?
Old 08-14-2009, 08:25 AM   #1
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How do deal with reaction to: "I'm retired" ?

I've been FI-REd for 4 years now and couldn't be happier.... a little volunteer work.... several hobbies..... and I don't know where each day goes. Life is good.

The problem is in some peoples' reactions when I say I'm retired.... and I'm starting to get sensitive to it and overreact.... not good!

Here's the scenario:
I'll meet someone new... and either the first question or second is: "so what do you do?" ... and I respond with "I'm retired"... and usually then go on to talk about what my partner does or about my hobbies... and that usually works out fine.
.... but the problematic response is: "Oh, so where have you traveled to? Have you been to Paris/ Greece/ Africa yet? When are you going?"

When I respond that I have no interest in overseas travel, then it's questions about either a second home, or, what expensive toys I have .."Oh. so do you have a boat or a plane?"... so I just tell them that I live pretty frugally as I always have.

.... then, they immediately switch to assuming that "retired" means "unemployed" and start thinking of new careers for me.
.... at which point, I get defensive and start talking about having a fairly conservative but very workable financial plan and, when feeling especially defensive, how much will be left when I die (if all goes to plan, that is).

So... with some people.... the presumption is that you either retire when you have more money than you know what to do with, or, you really aren't choosing retirement. I'm living an alternative that they don't seem to see as possible.

I know I can't change their assumptions.... but how can I deal with it differently..... (with a sense of humor that isn't demeaning to them would be best.)

Has anyone else had to deal with this?
Any opinions are greatly appreciated!
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:40 AM   #2
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I am not retired quite yet but I have been thinking that my answer to "so what do you do?" should probably be, "I'm a retired physical oceanographer. Physical oceanography involves the physics of the ocean, so physical oceanographers study waves, currents, and so on."

I am *hoping* that this distracts them enough that the conversation will veer off into oceanography. Guess I'll see when the time comes.

Anyway, have you tried giving them some information about your (former) career? That might give them something else to focus on, rather than your present lifestyle.
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:51 AM   #3
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I'd just tell them that you're happy with the way things are. Their goals are not your goals. Your needs are met. Some people can't be happy unless they have all the toys and travel, others can be quite content with a lot less.
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:00 AM   #4
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Tell them you are semi-retired and when they ask what you "do" tell them it's classified and if you told them you'd have to kill them.
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:18 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick S View Post
...can't change their assumptions.... but how can I deal with it differently..... (with a sense of humor that isn't demeaning to them would be best.)
Feel free to borrow any ideas for answers from here
http://www.early-retirement.org/foru...day-37868.html

Ok, you said it is a new person you've met and I will assume they are still w*rking, else they would not be asking these questions. I will also assume you don't want to give out a lot of info.

You need to have a set of stock answers at the ready. Being prepared may help your reaction to the same old same old questions. And definitely some humor is in order.

Here's a few of mine. No charge.

Note that most are tongue-in-cheek and designed to divert the conversation to another topic.

Q: "so what do you do?" ...
Answers:
- As little as possible. <big smile>
- I'm so busy all day I don't even think about that.
- I was a <substitute former career>. I'm thinking of consulting part-time now.

Q: "Oh, so where have you traveled to? Have you been to Paris/ Greece/ Africa yet? When are you going?"
Answers:
- I'm a little concerned about H1N1 so overseas travel is not in my plans.
- The exchange rate is not in our favor these days.
- I have a fear of flying. I just do weekend trips by car.

Q: ...then it's questions about either a second home, or, what expensive toys I have .."Oh. so do you have a boat or a plane?"...
Answers:
- I like the weather/neighborhood where I live now.
- I'm afraid of heights/water.
- Not yet. <silence>
- I can't afford that right now. <silence>

Their unsolicted solutions for your "problem": .... then, they immediately switch to assuming that "retired" means "unemployed" and start thinking of new careers for me.
Answers:
- I'm on sabbatical right now.
- Who knows? My volunteer w*rk may lead to something.
- I'd like to let other folks get the few jobs that are open in this recession.
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:31 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Want2retire View Post
I am not retired quite yet but I have been thinking that my answer to "so what do you do?" should probably be, "I'm a retired physical oceanographer. Physical oceanography involves the physics of the ocean, so physical oceanographers study waves, currents, and so on."

I am *hoping* that this distracts them enough that the conversation will veer off into oceanography. Guess I'll see when the time comes.
LOL, admitting to a career in science is a sure fire way to bring a conversation to an end, I think people assume that we'll have nothing in common. When I answer that "I'm a physicist" or "I'm an astronomer" I get this blank stare as they try to find something to say. So I quickly steer the conversation towards cinema, tv books, news etc.
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:42 AM   #7
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LOL, admitting to a career in science is a sure fire way to bring a conversation to an end, I think people assume that we'll have nothing in common. When I answer that "I'm a physicist" or "I'm an astronomer" I get this blank stare as they try to find something to say. So I quickly steer the conversation towards cinema, tv books, news etc.
I hadn't thought of that! If you said that to ME in a conversation, I'd think it was fascinating and I would probably ask you about the current anomalies in the sunspot cycle, or about solar systems, Mars, or something like that, or ask you about what your particular areas of interest in physics and astronomy might be. Oh well. Hard to imagine why someone wouldn't be interested in physics and astronomy!

By the way, I really loved the latest Star Trek movie... (grin)
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:51 AM   #8
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I hadn't thought of that! If you said that to ME in a conversation, I'd think it was fascinating and I would probably ask you about the current anomalies in the sunspot cycle, or about solar systems, Mars, or something like that, or ask you about what your particular areas of interest in physics and astronomy might be. Oh well. Hard to imagine why someone wouldn't be interested in physics and astronomy!

By the way, I really loved the latest Star Trek movie... (grin)
I think people can be intimidated by science, they may have had bad experiences with it in school and just don't think it's fun. I can always talk about trips to mountains in Chile and the Canary islands though.

I must have been one of the only ones that hated the last Star Trek movie
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:55 AM   #9
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LOL, admitting to a career in science is a sure fire way to bring a conversation to an end, I think people assume that we'll have nothing in common. When I answer that "I'm a physicist" or "I'm an astronomer" I get this blank stare as they try to find something to say. So I quickly steer the conversation towards cinema, tv books, news etc.
That didn't w*rk for me. I'm an Engineer, and started talking about wave mechanics on lakes and optics and lasers at a first meeting, and dh2b stuck around anyway for 4 hours. But he's a science fan and a telecomm guy...so that was close enough.

I understand exactly what you are saying when first meeting non-technogeeks.
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:02 AM   #10
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As a non-retiree (yet), I think these folks might just be scrabbling around for some topic of conversation with you, not actually torturing you on purpose (I hope).

What you might do is try to lead the conversation into some shared place, or common ground you have with the person, assuming you want to keep the conversation going.

I think a lot of folks just say that that they are private wealth advisors.
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:04 AM   #11
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I think people can be intimidated by science, they may have had bad experiences with it in school and just don't think it's fun. I can always talk about trips to mountains in Chile and the Canary islands though.
That's true, now that I think of it. I remember a friend of mine many years ago, when I was beginning my undergrad work, who was a homemaker and her response was "I could never do that! I am terrible at math." But there were so many other things that she COULD do, that I couldn't do. Her response saddened me at the time.

Hopefully I won't have trips to talk about, since I am not a travel buff. There is always Katrina, but it is so politically charged. Once I move north I doubt I will want to talk about it with people who weren't living in New Orleans at the time.

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I must have been one of the only ones that hated the last Star Trek movie
I thought the young, new Spock was fantastic! I also liked the new Captain Kirk. He had Shatner's mannerisms and Kirk's attitudes down beautifully. I literally cried when Leonard Nimoy gave what was probably his last "Live Long and Prosper". The end of an era, but the new actors are good enough to carry on the Star Trek story into the future.
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:10 AM   #12
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As a non-retiree (yet), I think these folks might just be scrabbling around for some topic of conversation with you, not actually torturing you on purpose (I hope).

What you might do is try to lead the conversation into some shared place, or common ground you have with the person, assuming you want to keep the conversation going.
I think this is good advice. Maybe you can focus on what THEY do and what their interests are, and ask them enough questions that they forget about what you do or don't do.

I know, I know. Sounds like the advice my mother gave me as a teenager nearly half a century ago, regarding what to talk about with boys on dates to make them like me. But really, the biggest interest that many people have is simply an interest in themselves.
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:15 AM   #13
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I thought the young, new Spock was fantastic! I also liked the new Captain Kirk. He had Shatner's mannerisms and Kirk's attitudes down beautifully. I literally cried when Leonard Nimoy gave what was probably his last "Live Long and Prosper". The end of an era, but the new actors are good enough to carry on the Star Trek story into the future.
I just glad when a Star Trek doesn't resort to time travel as a plot device. I thought that the Leonard Nimoy story line was really contrived and the climax on the film on the space ship with an interior that looked like a 3-D chess set was plain dumb.......The new actors are all good, but the concept was way over blown. I wanted something a bit more like Wrath of Kahn.
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:45 AM   #14
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LOL, admitting to a career in science is a sure fire way to bring a conversation to an end, I think people assume that we'll have nothing in common. When I answer that "I'm a physicist" or "I'm an astronomer" I get this blank stare as they try to find something to say. So I quickly steer the conversation towards cinema, tv books, news etc.
How true! Usually it goes that way:

Joe Schmoe: What do you do for a living?
Me: I am a chemist.
Joe Schmoe: Soooo, where do you come from?

I suspect that it will be my standard answer until I reach what most people would consider a reasonable age to be retired.
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:45 AM   #15
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.... then, they immediately switch to assuming that "retired" means "unemployed" and start thinking of new careers for me.
.... at which point, I get defensive and start talking about having a fairly conservative but very workable financial plan and, when feeling especially defensive, how much will be left when I die (if all goes to plan, that is).
I've never been asked a question that presupposes that "retired" means "unemployed." But ... if it ever happens, I'm going to tell them that I'm the CEO of a financial management concern and am responsible for the financial well-being of all my clients and employees. Of course what I manage is my portfolio and income streams, such as my pension. I'm the sole client and the sole employee.
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:56 AM   #16
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Yeah, I think "private investor" is a sufficiently vague answer that sounds like you keep busy 40 hrs a week. And it is completely truthful. I'm personally going to make up something to explain my idleness to some people, not sure what yet.
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:02 AM   #17
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It's been over 8 years since I FIRED at 50 - had problems with people for a while - doesn't come up often now that I look like I'm retired. So my advice is to try to look old.

I did have one annoying guy give me the third degree not long after.

I told him it gave me more time to be with his wife...there just wasn't enough for me to do everyday. (:-D)
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:21 PM   #18
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If you appear young and healthy and aren't obviously psychotic and you do not live in a particularly opulent or glamorous way of life or circumnavigate in your ketch or spend 6 months of every year in an ashram in India very many and likely most people will just assume that you are some kind of loser.

No matter what you say, their opinion will be the same even though you may be able to suppress the voicing of this opinion. Unless your conversant was right-then feeling really fed up with his or her job, a path that includes mandated frugality would not appeal to many. I'm 68 and people still assume that I must have a job. It no longer seems to annoy them if they see me out and about during work hours though.

Ha
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Old 08-14-2009, 12:34 PM   #19
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people still assume that I must have a job.
Ha
You do have a job: you make your money work for you, and have 1,000 other interests you are involved in.

Others work for money.

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Old 08-14-2009, 01:10 PM   #20
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Tell them you are semi-retired and when they ask what you "do" tell them it's classified and if you told them you'd have to kill them.
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You could say "We don't discuss submarine operations." "I'm sorry, I can't tell you that". Or you could tell them that you're only 12.87% retired.

But what they're probably most interested in is a way for you to steer the conversation in their direction. You could say "I'm retired. What do you do all day?" "No, we haven't been to Europe yet. Where do you like to go?" "A plane? No, ha, I wish. What kind do you have?"... and awaaaaaay they go.

If they persist in their obliviousness then you could answer "Well, I have a fairly conservative but very workable financial plan that sustains a low-key lifestyle. What are your retirement plans?" That's a sure conversation killer.
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