There are plenty of signs on this toll road we call life that tell us we are not as young as our heads tell us we are.
The first sign is the most annoying. The letter from AARP that arrives proximate to your 50th birthday -- inviting you to stick your snout in the slop trough of special interests. That one was easy to ignore. Into the trash it went along with the rest of the junk mail.
Then there was 60. Not as easy to ignore -- because my father's reflection started showing up in the mirror each morning. Proving that aging is not an incremental process. It comes on in surges -- like a melting glacier.
And then retirement. Giving up a profession that had kept me well-fed and mentally alert. In exchange for a very nice retirement in Mexico.
But none of them had a great impact on me. After all, I am a boomer. Sixty is the new twenty -- or so our besotted minds like to believe.
Until reality hits. And it hit me last week.
There are terms our culture assigns to the old. Bingo. Ball room dancing. Cruises.
But nothing says senior like "Social Security."
I mentioned earlier this month in spinning the wheel that I was considering taking my Social Security retirement benefits early -- at 62, rather than waiting until I am 66. I am not 62 -- yet. But I am old enough that I can apply for my retirement benefits.
And apply I did. On line.
Anyone who has read my blog for very long knows I am a skeptic when it comes to government. I have not experienced either efficiency or effectiveness in most of my contacts with government. For that reason alone, I was shocked at how easy it was to apply for my retirement benefits.
I decided to apply before I left for Mexico -- fully anticipating that an in-person trip to the local Social Security office was a high probability. But I was wrong.
The electronic form was well-designed and easy to use. The questions were easy to understand. The multiple choice options were thorough and made sense, And it was quick. I probably spent no more than ten minutes filling out the form.
One day later, a very polite woman called and asked me to clarify two of my answers. And the application process was complete. I should be receiving my first check in a few months.
It was so simple, I could have completed the entire process at my computer table in Melaque.
I made a point of thanking the young attorneys at the lunch table for their generosity. After all, the withholdings from their paychecks will just about equal what the government is about to put in my account. A great little shell game that is.
One of my favorite episode of The Simpsons involves this exchange. It is Bart’s birthday. Grandpa Abe Simpson gives Bart a big box of money.
Marge Simpson: Where did you get all the money?
Grandpa: The government. I didn’t earn it. I don’t need it. But, if they miss one payment I’m gonna raise hell!
Sometimes, there is true pleasure in being old.