Friday, October 28, 2005

Joe Volz, unretiree extraordinaire

One of my favorite age beat pieces was following around Joe Volz on his "last" day at work. It was meant to show the conflicting emotioning of someone facing retirement. Joe, a veteran -- is pioneering too much? -- age beater himself, sent this to me recently. Please post any thoughts you have on "unretiring." Seems a great subject to revisit -- John Cutter

By Joe Volz


I retired in 1987. And again in 1997. And in 2000.

Now, I am working full-time and have no immediate plans to quit.

Perhaps, I represent a new wave of seniors—call us "unretirees," if you wish.

I don’t need the money. But I enjoy what I do although I now do it my way.

I have been a newspaper reporter for 45 years and now I am a full-time columnist but without the perks that my younger colleagues in the columnizing business have. I don’t get health insurance or a pension from my current employer, Copley News Service, where, an independent contractor, I write a weekly syndicated column called "Aging Lifestyles."

(I am sure that word, aging" along with "senior citizens" and "elderly" will be on the banned list of words that Paul Kleyman and the gang at the American Society on---dare we say it--Aging are drawing up.)

Anyhow, I don’t need those benefits. I get them from one of previous employers, AARP. ( I worked there when it was called the American Association of Retired Persons).

Yes, our vocabulary is changing as well as our role in the work force.

The first time I retired I was a Washington correspondent for the financially-ailing New York Daily News. The paper, then owned by the Chicago Tribune, was trying to downsize before selling it. They offered us senior employees a buyout. They would pay me two years’ pay not to work there. I had been covering the Mafia. I knew an offer I couldn’t refuse.

I figured I would do a little freelancing but, before long, I was recruited by a new news service, Maturity News Service, then syndicated by the New York Times. I traveled the country interviewing, among others, retirees for 10 years. But the news service folded.

Yet, I took another full-time job so I could buy a fancy condo in Washington. I went to work for the American Psychological Association as a magazine writer but soon decided I really wanted to be retired . I didn’t want to commute to the office every day on a regular schedule.

But now I work at home—when I want to.

I vowed, after my third retirement, that I would never wear a necktie again nor would I wear socks most of the time. I have kept that promise.

As an independent contractor, I have to pay more Social Security but the tax people let me write off all sorts of expenses. And just to keep busy, I have taken another job, once again as an independent contractor. I write a three-times-a –week column on anything I like for the local daily in Frederick, Md.

So, maybe we need a new word for retirees, too. I suspect there are a lot of people like me who keep working under new self-imposed ground rules.

You can call me anything you like. Just don’t call me a white elephant.

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