Lay off | Mark’s Remarks

I was having a great conversation with a group of folks the other day. Some were retired and some were close to retiring.  

The truths spoken at this meeting were priceless.

One of the more knowledgeable and longer retired folks in the group began to impart wisdom to those of us in the group who were retiring soon.

“Look, don’t listen to all the people trying to tell you what you need to do.  Furthermore, don’t feel like you have to fill everyone in on what your plans are.  Everyone always wants to know what you are doing when you retire, and you don’t have to tell them anything. Tell them to lay off.”

I thought of when I got out of college. Although most folks in my life knew I was going to be a teacher, I was inundated with questions about when I’d find a job, where I was looking, what grade I would teach, and so on.

Now, some people ask you what you are going to do because they care about you and are just making conversation. They are just being friendly.

I recognize that. I mean, I’m not a 24/7 curmudgeon.

But I haven’t quite figured out why others ask certain things.

I’ve had people ask me how much my retirement income from teaching will be. I kid you not – actually asking how much I will bring in monthly. No joke!

I’ve had people suggest things I should do when I retire, including things I have absolutely no interest or talent in.    

I’ve had people ask me repeatedly if I play golf and then stare at me in bewilderment when I say I have no interest in the sport.  

“What are you going to do with yourself then?”

Oh my. I really need time to sort it all out and figure things out. For a while, I plan on sitting still and not talking to people for a while, just to clear the old head. 

 I also know that I no longer want to explain myself to people or constantly educate others on how things work. I don’t want to teach manners and things that are no longer taught at home. I know I don’t want to pick up the slack for people anymore, and then get blamed if someone isn’t making a good grade. 

In short, I’d like to try something different. You know, that doesn’t involve students, parents, or education in general.

This is hard for most to understand. I mean, teachers are supposed to want to be around students and parents the rest of their lives.  


No. And I don’t care if that’s taken the wrong way.  

It’s the same way when my kids graduated from college.  Some people think they are now available to mow lawns (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or babysit or do odd jobs constantly. I had to tell someone, not long ago, that my son was a college graduate now and working a full-time job, just like the rest of us.

So I’ve watched my college graduate children deal with the same sort of questioning I’m getting about retiring from teaching. 

“What are you going to do now? Where are you working? Is that what you got your degree in? You should go work for this guy!”

Ugh. It’s excruciating to continue being polite in such instances. It makes you want to say what my long-retired friend told me to say.  

Lay off.

If you must ask people about their college graduation or retirement, just congratulate them and wish them well. Please don’t ask them a lot of questions, even if they are curious, well-meaning questions.  For some of the questions, there aren’t clear answers.

And I’m going to go ahead and say it: In most cases, it’s none of your business.

And if you find yourself saying things like “Is that what you got your degree in?” please think about what that sounds like, and then think about why you are asking such things.  

In fact, examine your thought patterns and words a little more before you speak.

It will definitely help those of us who have recently graduated or who are close to retirement.  

It will help us immensely. It will enable us to continue sincerely smiling at you and being polite.

My retiring and graduating friends thank you for your attention to this matter.

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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