Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Going postal

Some good news buried in a small blurb on VOCM. Turns out there won't be a postal strike. Now, I think in these days with so much stuff done online, I'm not sure people appreciate the post office as much as they once did. And yes, people buy things online, but realistically there are few things online that you can't buy in St. John's as well. A postal strike would have been a nuisance, but not a staggering inconvenience to most people in Newfoundland.

It's a touch different for people living in the Arctic. Canada Post is a major lifeline. It's packages from home. It's books, DVDs, etc from Chapters. I don't know if it would have impacted food mail services up here or not, but it would have been a concern. Mail is a big deal up here. An inconvenience in Newfoundland would have been a major pain in the ass this far north.

But it's also good news on a more personal level. As many people know, my dad is a letter carrier. He's been batting around the idea of retirement (I won't say his age, but he is #1 in seniority among letter carriers in St. John's right now) mainly because of the strike. I don't pretend to have all the info, but my understanding is that his pension is based on the last five years he worked. Obviously a strike that might have dragged on for several weeks not only would hurt him financially now, but for years in the future. Therefore, if the strike looked certain, I'm pretty sure he would have retired.

Thing is, he's clearly not ready to. He's in remarkably good shape for a man his age (You know, if any of his buddies at work are reading this, they're going to crucify him. You haven't seen people tease, mock and go at each other until you've hung around with letter carriers). I remember following him around on a route a couple of years ago when I was trying to do a radio piece on him. I had to trot to keep up with him and was winded at the end.

Plus he still loves his job. If the strike didn't go ahead, he was talking about retiring – maybe – at 60. By my rough count he'll have about 37 years in with Canada Post at that time. You don't do something for that long unless you love it.

My concern was on what he was going to do in retirement, especially if it came sooner rather than later. He wants to do some travelling, which is great. I imagine he'll head to Europe for a bit, and he fell deeply in love with New Zealand during his brief stay there. He should absolutely travel.

But it's a matter of what do you do the rest of the time? For example, most teachers are 30 years and out. A lot of them end up selling real estate, insurance, cars or whatever. Not that they really need the money. It's something to do and gives them a little extra pocket change. Cathy's parents have a small framing business (if you need framing done and are in the St. John's area, drop me a line and I'll hook you up). It keeps them busy and gets them enough money so they can go to Florida for a month or so each year.

Dad doesn't really have anything like that. He loves to read. And while he's never gone to university, he's smart as a whip. The family have begun to lean on him a bit, I think, to come up with a game plan on what to do once he retires. Going to university is an option, I guess. Personally, I think he should sell the house in St. John's (although that does leave me with the dilemma of finding a place to store my 10,000 or so comic books), buy a nice place outside of town and start to raise dogs.

He loves dogs and is remarkably good at training them. Just get a nice breeding stock of either Golden Retriever's or Newfoundland dogs, make sure he has the right paperwork and training, and start doing that. It won't bring in a ton of money (not that, to be honest, he really needs the money), but it'll be all right. Plus, it'll give him something to do and he gets to be around dogs.

Hmmmm, I guess I should also start coming up with things to do when I retire. Then again, according to my last financial report, I can retire at 60 as long as I die at 80. Fortunately, Cathy says she's willing to help with that problem...

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