Day before yesterday I met the guy with the perfect job. He found it after he retired. He drives a sand rail.
For those of you not blessed with sand dunes in your local vicinity, a sand rail is specialized lightweight vehicle that skims the surface of a sand dune–similar to but more sophisticated than a dune buggy. It’s an open vehicle made largely out of pipe. Typically they have more power than rental ATV’s you can ride on your own. The only way we could get on one when we were looking for this kind of adventure was to “book a tour.” Bob–the guy with the perfect job–was our driver. He had a great set-up for himself that made for a great experience for us.
Bob retired as a lineman and climber for the local power company a few years ago. A few months later, he was approached while waiting in line at the grocery store–by a stranger! He’d been driving the Oregon Dunes since he was nine and had been active in the local club most of his life. Dune buggies are a part of who Bob is. He drives them WELL. Plus, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area had been his playground for a long time. He knows where he is in all that white sand. The stranger had learned all this because he had asked around in the community when he bought the business. Bob had been involved for so long that “everyone” knew how good he was at driving.
So why am I writing about Bob? Well, he’s living the best fantasy of all–having someone pay you to do what you love. He gets to drive a sand rail all day with someone else covering the cost of the vehicle, fuel, and insurance and worrying about the maintenance. And he gets a paycheck for doing it. Sweet.
But the guy who offered him the job was a big winner, too. He has an employee experienced enough to know to check the oil before he heads for the dunes. (We made a detour to the shop area to add a quart before we headed out.) He has a guy whose enthusiasm makes whoever gets in the rail more ready to have a great time. And he also has a guy who makes the ride a whole lot more fun simply because he projects an easy confidence–because of all that experience.
Do you think I would have been able to sit calmly–worried only about laughing with my mouth shut (to avoid a mouthful of sand)–as we careened around steep, massive dunes–if a seventeen-year old had been driving? No way. I would have been frantic the whole time, waiting for the kid to turn the thing upside down doing something unintentionally reckless. Bob was a different story. I relaxed enough to enjoy a very wild ride because it was quite clear he knew what he was doing. (He’d survived doing it for a long time!) Too often the benefit of experience gets lost in the background. Bob’s driving and my resulting good time made it wonderfully vivid.
So what’s the point of all this? There are two things to learn from Bob in terms of how the rest of us do retirement.
- Experience has value. Be confident enough of what you know to value yours when you think of what you might want to do next. It does make a difference, but, unlike Bob, you may have to be the one to point out why to the person you want to let you use it.
- The better you are at knowing what you like and honoring that in how you live all along, the easier it’s going to be to find your own”perfect job” once you retire. People know Bob is good with dune buggies. Those people passed the word to a stranger when he was looking for exactly what Bob is good at. That is networking at its easiest.
And let’s be very clear about one last thing. This WAS a wild ride. A great adventure that I would have missed entirely if I hadn’t been lucky enough to have someone like Bob driving. So I was a winner here, too.
We are good at so many things when we get this far in life. Doing the ones you really like to do makes for a much more satisfying retirement. “Perfect job” stories might become delightfully common as more of us seize opportunities to do what we love for someone who needs exactly that done. Thanks for the great example, Bob!