For the past couple of years, I have been thinking about what I might do when I retire.
I know it might shock those of you who only know me by the youthful photo that runs with this column, but the end of my traditional working career will likely occur in less than a decade.
I have several retirement jobs in mind.
Although I’m not a gadget guy and have limited ability with tools, I’ve thought it would be cool to drive one of the forklifts at Home Depot or Lowe’s. My wife and other family members, who might at times find me to be a distracted driver, are dubious.
Not without (some) justification, they wonder about the damage I could cause while operating one of these machines with customers nearby.
But I think with the right training, I could do it, so I’m not yet counting myself out.
I’m also thinking of applying at the place where I buy tires and have occasional car maintenance performed. Having been a patron there for years, and having enjoyed the friendly atmosphere of the waiting room, I think I would be more than qualified to make coffee for folks hanging around and/or deliver customers to their homes or places of employment after they drop off their cars.
My loved ones might also raise their eyes at the prospect of my making coffee on a regular basis. I’m not a coffee drinker, and I have been known to grumble about the space coffee makers take up on the kitchen counter and all the paraphernalia associated with the coffee-making process. But if brewing java were part of my job description, I think I could take it seriously and make a go of it.
In addition, there are always interesting discussions taking place in this particular waiting area, so I could also be charged with keeping those conversations going. See, I might even be able to create new responsibilities for this hypothetical position.
I am also keeping my eye on Timberland Park, the beautiful Williamson County park just south of the Natchez Trace bridge. If you have not visited this gem, you owe it to yourself to do so as soon as you can. There are hiking trails for those of all abilities, and the bucolic setting will make you think you are miles from civilization rather than just a few miles from Franklin.
There is a wonderful visitors center with a fireplace and rocking chairs, as well as a lovely deck on the back with huge bird feeders. I think keeping the fire stoked, talking with visitors (perhaps while rocking) and keeping the birdfeeders filled would be right up my alley. (I already have a semi-inside track on a part-time job there, but I’m keeping that information to myself, just in case other would-be retirees are sniffing around for work. It will be a while for me, but I’m thinking there’s not a lot of turnover).
The one position I have most coveted, however, as I have thought about the next season of my life, will no longer be available to me.
Walmart announced last week that it will be eliminating all of its greeter jobs by the end of April.
Apparently, from what I have read, the retail giant has been gradually phasing out these positions since 2016 and this is the final phase.
In place of greeters, Walmart stores will now have “customer host” positions which are more physically demanding and will require the ability to lift 25-pound packages, climb ladders and stand for long periods of time.
Like all brick-and-mortar retailers, Walmart is having to redefine itself in the digital age in order to compete with the likes of Amazon. I’m guessing a customer host, with expanded duties such as handling returns and checking receipts, is more efficient than the single-purpose greeter.
Unfortunately, according to news reports, the decision by Walmart means uncertainty for many workers with disabilities who have filled the greeter positions. Walmart is already in the middle of damage control over the press it has received from this.
For me, whether or not I will qualify to be a customer host, or whether I will even want to be one, remains to be seen. I had always seen myself wearing the blue vest and saying hello to shoppers as they entered the store. It doesn’t look like that will be happening.
So I’ll be keeping my forklift-driving, coffee-making and birdfeeder-filling options open.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.