I looked and he had only one item in the cart, it was a small jar of hot sauce. I wasn't sure what to say but he continued, " I can't hold an item and walk with my crutches as my back is so bad." He went on to explain his medical problem. He had one crutch and he was using the trolley for support. I said I had been in that situation when I had my hip operation.
We talked for a while as the line did not move. He told me that he was 79 years old and he had worked all of his life at hard labouring jobs as a self-employed contractor, He explained the hard lifting he had done when he was younger was now catching up with him. He told me he needed to continue to work, as he needed to but he only did the small jobs that did not take a physical toll on him.
It was a pleasant conversation but it made me think about how many other seniors were in his position. He did not say it, but I suspect that as a self-employed person, he did not set up a Registered Retirement Saving Plan, nor would he have contributed to his Canada Pension until he was required to and I suspect he paid the minimum amount. So at almost 80, he is in a situation where he has to work even though he is physically in pain.
As we move through the three stages retirement, we need less money. In the initial stage about the first ten years, we have hopefully, our health, and energy and we use that energy to travel, to volunteer, to work part time. As we move into the second stage of retirement the second 10 years, we slow down, and our energy is reduced and we do not travel as much and we become more homebound, either because of physical illness or just lack of energy. The man I talked to was in what would normally be his second stage of retirement, but because of circumstance he was not yet fully retired.
When we get out and about and listen we find some interesting stories.