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The Villages
Thursday, October 28, 2021

Retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Lisa DeMarco

I recently realized that I am not going to be able to retire. Not because of financial issues. Instead, medical ones. Simply put, if I do not find something to do regularly to occupy the logical side of my brain, I will go clinically mad!

It seems that even with all my daily chores as a nanny, maid, cook, taxi, and companion, I need some type of part-time occupation. One would think my first thought would be to find a restaurant like Billy’s Cafe that serves breakfast and lunch nearby that just so happens to be looking for an opening waitress. But, I just left the best job ever doing that. I want something different.

Then, my grandson, Jeremy, came home from school with a pleasant surprise in his backpack. A locally published community-oriented magazine. This gave me several ideas on future “author” projects I would love to get involved in. Next, I started thinking about the local street festival and farmer’s markets, where I could set up my tent and sell my books. This, too, got me excited. However, most of these opportunities are held on the weekends. Unfortunately, those days are already designated playtime, and I am not looking to fill those hours.

Finally, my sister Vivian suggested I look into working as a banquet server. She and I had done catering for years back in the day. We worked for corporate hotels and privately-owned companies. I have always enjoyed serving at private parties. I am experienced. Why not? I thought. I could at least fill out the application and see where it goes.

Or so I thought. I had no idea it would take me so long to fill out one job application. Oh yes, because I had to complete it on the computer. No one invited me to come to visit and show them my printed resume. No,  I had to fill out a 9-page digital application. Only after I downloaded the app to create an account with the employment agency that handled job applications for the company I was trying to apply to.

As always, I was so confused. I’ve spent the last 20 years working in two family-owned restaurants. Neither did I use a computer – except for credit card systems, and we still hand-wrote our guest checks for the kitchen. Talk about feeling like “Wilma Flintstone.”

Jeremy, of course, offered to help. Luckily for me, my hubby has the technological savvy I lack. He agreed to walk me through the process as long as I tried my best to be quiet and listen. A tall order, but I pledged to try my best. Believe it or not, we did manage to decipher all the necessary requirements to complete that one  “simple” application. 

Again, it took Joe and me a couple of hours to complete it. Sure we were interrupted more than a few times. But, I also had to search for specific addresses and try to remember exact dates. You’d think I was applying for some high-security government job. All this to possibly become a part-time, on-call banquet server at a nearby country club. 

Unexpectedly, I got a response in less time than it took me to apply. I was amazed. I knew my 40-years of experience spoke for itself, but sometimes showing how many decades I have under my belt makes me seem really old. I always wonder how that 30-year old interviewer feels about hiring someone to work for them that has been in the business longer than they have been alive?!

So I got an interview, and I got hired on the spot. Parties are what I do best, and the catering director felt I would be a perfect match. She ended our visit by telling me that someone from Human Resources would contact me directly to get me through the hiring process. “If you have any questions, just contact me directly, and I will help you,” she added.

I bet she wished she never said that to me because we played phone tag over the next three days and into the holiday weekend. It turns out I had way more than just additional papers to fill out, and I had a tough time downloading and opening the packet I was sent. Then, I realized I was required to make arrangements to be drug tested, fingerprinted, background checked. Not to mention, I had to sign and notarize a lengthy “Affidavit of Good Moral Character.”  All within the next five business days to start my orientation and be put on the schedule. 

Wow! I was already ready to give up, but I had come so far. I would not give up extra holiday cash merely because I am too ancient to get my foot correctly in the door. No. Now I was on a mission. I would get every requirement completed and land me an easy part-time gig if it killed me. I love working parties. Wedding, Christmas, Bar Mitzvah, they are all lots of fun. No memorizing menu items. No day-to-day commitment. Free out-of-the-house adult entertainment. It is a win-win scenario. Just call me when you need me, and I’ll be there in uniform with a smile on my face and a skip in my walk, ready to help make any affair most memorable.

If, of course, I could pass all the tests?! Just kidding. I am as legal as the day is long. However, this was the first time in my 50-plus years that I was required to prove it. The airhead that I am, I almost forgot to put my maiden name under aliases.  I’ve been a DeMarco for so long, I literally forgot I had to represent my early years when I still lived in New Jersey and went by Goldstein. Either way, I do not have a criminal record in any state by any name.

However, if someone checks for me in a social media setting, I’m sure my Google search will impress them, especially if they do not mind adding “America’s Funniest Waitress” to their payroll. 

Unfortunately, the entire job search experience left me so exhausted, I’m considering holding off starting until after the holidays. This way, I won’t be too tired to enjoy my first time in a long time, NOT working on the holidays.

Laugh on peace out.

Lisa DeMarco is a columnist for Villages-New.com

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