My membership doesn’t include pension benefits or a lapel pin and I will have to pay to attend the Christmas dinner, but I’ll take it. This is a crowd that will help my seedy reputation immensely, even if I don’t do much for theirs.
For the past nine years, I have spoken to the Cobb retirees at their monthly meeting at the West Cobb Senior Center. I figured that was because I am a dynamic speaker with a great sense of humor whose opinions are widely read and much admired and the members couldn’t wait for me to dazzle them with my wit and wisdom.
That doesn’t seem to be the case with the CCREA. Their president, David Stone, a retired Cobb County police officer, says they keep inviting me back to see if I might actually make sense one year. That cut to the quick.
Last year, I stepped in at the last minute because their scheduled speaker, an undertaker, had to cancel. I was terrific. Great jokes. Amusing anecdotes. Witty political observations. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself until I realized that being funnier than an undertaker isn’t exactly the hardest thing in the world to do.
Up until now, I’ve not been offered the opportunity to be an honorary member of anything that I can recall. That is partially my fault. I long ago adopted the philosophy of Groucho Marx who said, “I don’t care to belong to any group that will accept people like me as a member.” I am very discriminating.
Besides, if I’m not careful I could have so many organizations clamoring to have me be a part of them that I wouldn’t have time to pursue my two enduring passions: Working for world peace in our lifetime and learning to play the sousaphone.
In my first official act as an honorary retired employee, I would politely suggest that somebody from county government make the monthly meetings of the Cobb County Retired Employees Association a priority. I don’t think in the nine years I have appeared at their meetings I’ve seen anybody from the county there except at election time. That’s not good.
If I did nothing else as a county poobah, I’d make it a point to stop by each and every month and thank the retirees for what they did to make this county as good as it is and let them know their efforts are appreciated.
I am retired from whatever morphed out of BellSouth Corporation and about the only time I hear from the company is a monthly feel-good electronic newsletter with a lot of politically correct smiling faces on the cover. The fact the corporation is about to change the provision of our health care plan is never mentioned. We have gotten some correspondence about the proposed changes, but based on my corporate experience, the information was written by the Human Resources Department and approved by the lawyers and is a bit obfuscated, to be kind.
I’m not speaking for my friends in the CCREA, but the conversation at their meetings leads me to believe they have some of the same concerns about their own pension and benefits. A monthly report from someone in authority at the county would be a small but important gesture, in my opinion. (Remember, those of you working for the county today will be retirees one day. Treat retirees as you will wish to be treated.)
Retired employees of any organization — be it government or business — are the foundation upon which the current generation stands. Sadly, retirees are viewed by many computer-driven bean counters as “cost causers.” We don’t bring revenue into the organization, but we put a dent on the bottom line.
In fact, retired employees can be a great asset. To many in the community, they are still identified as a part of the team and people still seek their opinions on issues. Keeping them up-to-date should be Job One. Not to mention that they have a loyalty that seems to be missing on both sides of the table in many organizations these days.
I am sure the commissioners and assorted management are thrilled beyond words that I am now an honorary member of the Cobb County Retired Employees Association and can meddle even more in the county’s affairs that I do today. You have better believe that I am proud to be a part of the group. And to think — it only took nine boring speeches and upstaging the undertaker.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb