Going on "Gardening Leave" by Bill Storie

Bill Storie and Robin Trimingham are the co-founders of The Olderhood Group – an online retirement learning environment with over 70,000 global followers. In 2013 they launched a retirement planning blog which focuses on the issues related to the transition from the workplace to a... Read More

Going on "Gardening Leave" by Bill Storie

I admit that I’ve never really understood what the term "gardening leave" means. For some reason, I always reckoned that someone had given you permission to go work in your garden. I was never clear why you needed permission but accepted it.

I only later found out that it meant that you had been a bad boy (or girl) in your place of employment and were sent home. You had probably been fired but for a period of time you would still be paid. How long for? I have no idea how that works.

But a few days ago, I discovered a new meaning for gardening leave.

In my case, it means that I am let off from gardening duties. In other words, I am not obliged to go cut grass or pull weeds etc. How did I manage this you ask?

I hired a gardener!

Being Scottish brings with it some wonderful character traits. But also a few bad ones. Probably the most well-known is that we Scots tend to be stingy with money. Not really true, but it comes in useful at times. Claiming some level of poverty comes easy to us. We simply open our mouth and say, “I don’t have that amount of money.” Guess what? The world actually believes us !!

So, over many years I have always chosen to do my own garden. I don’t pay myself of course but continually cherish the idea of saving money as the perspiration (notice I didn’t say sweat) cascades down my back (I live in Bermuda remember). The incentive to expend so much energy is huge.

Then, as I entered the retirement phase of life I realized that I would have even more time to do gardening and as money became tight (not only Scottish but a Retired Scotsman – what a combination), yet for some reason my time seems to be becoming more and more consumed with other stuff.

Thank you Olderhood!

So much so that a few days ago, I made an enormous decision. One which I have never made in my life ever before. I decided to hire a gardener. Yup, I know it amazes you but it’s true.

But hold on.

I saw no point in hiring some fancy-priced landscaping company to send 4 men with a truck full of tools and equipment to cut a few hedges. The get a bill about the same level of my pension. No Sir, not this Scotsman.

I see a nice lad every morning when I walk the dogs so I asked him if he knew anyone who did this kind of stuff. He said, “Me.” He told me his price and we struck a deal. I really liked the idea of giving some work to a lad who lives along the street from me. He’s not fully employed these days so the extra cash will come in handy.

So, I relieved my Scottish heritage angst by doing something to two birds at the same time. I had given a nice gesture to a neighbor, philanthropic you could say, and I did something else, now what was it? Answers on a postcard please.

So, there you are. I’m now on gardening leave.

It feels great. In fact, as I am typing this epistle at 9.30 in the morning I can look out my front window and see my handy man cut back some hibiscus right in front of me. I think I’ll go make a coffee so I can watch and bask in the warmth of watching someone else do the work I should be doing. The fact that he is doing it so much better than I ever did, is a mere bonus. What a great idea.

Maybe this retirement gig is good after all. I don’t have to lie in bed wondering where I am going to find the time, far less the inclination to get up and work in the garden and thereby deny you folks the pleasure of my words of wisdom by writing in the Olderhood.

In other words, a win-win-win. You, me and the handy man.

Ok, back to work. Fingers on keyboard. Clean fingers I hasten to add. Not messed up with garden gunk.

I’ll keep you posted on how this gardening leave works out.

By Bill Storie