Retirement Nightmare

From Writing Notebook 2021, published in 2022.

Retirement Nightmare

When I recall the sight of
employees crouched over metal desks
rows and rows of vague dim squeezed faces
stretching off into the haze
images wavering in manufactured office air

When I realize
my desk belongs to someone else
and I
the gray grim-lipped pencil-pusher
Aisle 3 Row 17 Desk 32
Full Time

I am no longer included in the
annual company group photo:

What do I think?
It has been years now.
I always feel it
in the pit of my stomach
at eight o’clock in the morning.


15 thoughts on “Retirement Nightmare

      • I’ve had plenty of actual work anxiety and then of course dreams about it, but more strange, the dreams where I go in, they have no work for me, and they insist on me staying …why? Just in case some comes in? Or me just being around is so uplifting to the company? Recently I’ve been quitting in these dreams once I realize they can’t make me stay. I like that.

    • Yes. For me work always made me anxious. Even now I have dreams about various aspects of it, and the funny thing is, in more recent years it’s that I go to work, there is nothing for me to do, and yet they won’t let me quit. Now I don’t know what that means.

      • It’s interesting. Something must be churning about in your brain.
        I’ve never had work dreams, but I’ve definitely had the school anxiety dreams–but not when I was in school.

        • OMG. I am laughing. There are so many psychological things there a therapist would love to get at. And in reality, I bet you just did not like the gym teacher. Or maybe gym class. Anyway, what you said made me think, in high school we had wire baskets for our clothes, arranged on shelves in two tiers with a space in between, and each class had a separate fenced in section with a locked gate. Sort of like a storage locker in the apartment building. The area was small (you went and got your basket and took it out to the main room to get dressed, then returned it with your regular clothes, and it was locked during the class). So I can just see you standing in this little area surrounded by our stinky gym clothes, shrieking for your life.

        • If we had had a setup like that I probably would have imagined it like that! 🤣 I was not athletic, and in Dallas we didn’t have to do anything in gym class. I’d never seen all the apparatus, drills, –and the junior high was one of those big fieldstone buildings with dark basements with steam pipes. The academic work was harder, but I understood books and studying, not phys ed stuff. And everything was new and different, it was March when we moved, my parents were divorcing. . .

  1. Yikes. I am retired and have seen 2 different people inhabit my old office. And the funny thing is that I have been gone 3 years and people still refer to it as my old office!

  2. I think a lot of people have mixed feelings about retirement. It can be an exciting prospect, of course, but any big life change can be hard to navigate. I only hope I have the chance to find out how I feel!

    • Yes, there is a transition time from one stage to the other, and I think that you never totally let go of your possession of your work life, in your memories and how you structure your next part of life.

  3. You have indeed struck a chord for me here Claudia and I’m sure for many others too. Some hate retirement, but for many others it’s freedom – however much they may have enjoyed their job. Occasionally, I dream I am back at the old job, and I feel so relieved when I wake up and find it was a dream.

    • I left office work 30 years ago, but have kind of retired from the art and other work I was doing for pay, in a gradual process, to where I am now. But it is my office days I still dream about, that I go to the office, they have no work for me, and I’m kind of confused and disoriented and I am ready to leave, but they keep telling me they need me (as I look at my cleared desk, or that I don’t have a computer to work on, or etc.). I wake up and I am glad those days are in the past and that no one is pursuing me to work anymore!

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