How a cheap beer, helped my post-retirement social life. How, I made friends, kept old friends, and lived my best life. How I navigated through social anxieties, corporate layoffs, then retirement. Finally gaining life balance with something as simple as a weekly party.
Retirement is one of those words that I had always thought was way off in the future. I always figured that I would be just like everyone else in my family, go to school, go to work, retire at 65. At least that was my frame of reference throughout my mid to late twenties. I was in the same cycle as most people from the United States. I had student loan debt, bought a house, and made a car payment.
I got married and eventually moved cities. When we sold my home, we used the money to pay off our debts including cars and student loans, and still have enough left over for a down payment on a new home. Over the next decade, we did not incur any more debt, and we focused on paying off our house and saving money. To be honest, we sort of kicked ass.
To be honest, the only lucky thing I ever happened to me was to have the right girl choose me. We both had good jobs and neither wanted to incur debt, we both saved. We were on the same page financially, and that is fairly lucky I guess.
Our plan was working, and working well. We wanted to work another five years and once our pets had passed away, we would move to Costa Rica and live Pura Vida. Until then, we would work our 9-5 jobs, use our vacation wisely, and sock away some cash. We had pretty good social lives, we had co-working friends, and away from office friends. Our social lives were jam-packed, our lives rocked.
Then one day my wife came home from work, and let me know that her position had been eliminated. She was sad, relieved, and happy with a bevy of emotions about the entire ordeal. But hell, at the end of the day, we still had one income, and we were fine. Six months later, my position was eliminated as well. We were both unemployed.
The money wasn’t a big deal; we had no bills, hell we were retiring soon anyway. But what shook me was the silence of my day. I had become accustomed to having lunch with my co-workers, hanging out at the pub together, and just having some really cool people in my life. But when I got laid off, that all changed. People, whom I had hung out with for years, stopped texting me, stopped inviting me out to the pub; ghosted.
We knew that we only wanted to work five more years, but we were now in a weird position. We technically had enough money to retire, but most of our cash was tied up in retirement funds, and we are too young to start cashing in. Our solution was simple, bide our time, keep applying, and eventually, we will both find jobs.
For six months we looked for work, we were being a bit picky. We would not commute long distances or move cities, we like our community and wanted to stay. We both applied for a couple of hundred jobs and even got second place multiple times; it is just a matter of time before one of us would find the right fit, but nothing.
At eight months, we decided that we should try our hand at creating our own company. We are smart, dedicated professionals, so why not?
We went into full time blogging with a heavy dose of niche marketing, and although we really hadn’t done this type of thing before, we’re quick learners; we knew we just had to put the work in and we would succeed (and we have). If it weren’t for pets that are too old to move abroad, we could and would live virtually anywhere in the world, but for now, we work from home.
I started out in my basement office. I love my basement, the basement has all of my favorite things, my brew kitchen, pool table, big-screen television, a Kegerator, gaming computer, bar, coffee pot, refrigerator, you name it. But something was off, I was being as productive as I should, I figured it was just because the basement is a bit darker than my normal working environment in the cube farm. I needed sunlight.
Since it was nice outside, I made the decision to take the laptop out to the patio. I brought out the Bose speaker, got me a big glass of water and got to work. I researched, wrote, updated, posted, and performed. I was correct, moving to a brighter space increased my productivity immensely, but there was something that was still missing.
For my entire professional career, I worked in a cube farm. I had co-workers to bounce ideas off of, we would discuss processes. Quite often, we would go out after work and discuss things. We would have a beer, decompress, and talk about our work lives, families, or whatever popped in our minds. There was a real comradery between us. It just took me a come to the realization that I was lonely; I no longer had work friends that I could talk to.
I still have friends, real friends that I speak to multiple times a week, people I care about, people I love and who love me. But these people have day time jobs, what is a cheap and easy way to increase my friend’s face time?
I formulated a plan, a crazy plan, a simple plan, a not well thought out plan, but a plan. I knew that the majority of my beer drinking friends drank pilsner of various sorts, Michelob Ultra, Bud Light or Miller Lite. To be fair, and Pilsner is just a Pilsner, it is the style of pretty much every American macro brew. But lucky for me, my friends are accustomed to the consumption of Natural Light. It is cheap and came in 30 packs.
Obviously, my friends aren’t beer snobs, when in a bar, they will drink their favorite, but in any situation where beer is free, they will all drink Natty Light. So, my plan was simple, offer free beer in the hope that they would stop by for one. It wasn’t a grand, bold plan, but since I remembered it working in college, so why not try again?
I broke out my 6-pack cooker about 4 pm and iced up 6 Natty’s. I took a picture and then texted it out to my friends saying just these words.
“If anyone wants to stop by after work for a beer, I will be on the patio until dark.”
I then got back to working on a few business things, and sort of forgot about it. I had figured that if the beer was cold, and if the beer was free, and if anyone had a shitty day, that SOMEONE may want to stop by shoot the shit. Free beer is free beer, right? My expectations weren’t really high, I know that people have lives, families, and responsibilities, and I was truly not expecting anyone to show.
That thinking changed around 3:30 when my brew buddy Mark showed up with a 12 pack of Natty of his own. He said that 6 aren’t enough for what he had in mind. We drank; we laughed, talked beer, business, and contemplated the universe. Most of all, we were just happy, smiling, and had a blast. All was right in the world and was exactly what we both needed.
I was going to be out on the patio for an extended amount of time, I would send out the iced “Natty” picture and an open invitation to all. Some day’s people couldn’t make it, but more often than not, I would be surrounded by 3-5 of my closest friends. We laughed, smiled, bitched, consoled…and we enjoyed each other’s company, and occasionally sometimes the party escalates.
At one point, three people brought 30 packs because they were worried that they had drunk all my beer and wanted to contribute. Although we didn’t kill all the Natty’s in one sitting, over a period of a few weeks, we did manage to down them all. Throughout the summer, I have probably only purchased about 5-6 30 packs. Natty on the Patty was now a thing. It felt like college all over again, it was pretty amazing.
Having Natty on the Patty took me from a lonely desk jockey hermit back to being to a social butterfly. Being social is something that I had greatly missed. A simple thing like a text message and cheap beer created this really fun escape. We could all meet up without expectations, without heavy bar bills. Natty on the patty just didn’t help me, it helped all of us. It truly has been one of the best summers of my life.
Unfortunately, summers don’t last forever. As fall arrives and summer wanes, the days get shorter, the temperature drops, we can still have Natty on the Patty. Shorts make way for long pants, tee shirts get traded in for sweatshirts, and tiki-torches become small bonfires. I feel that we can probably have this event well into November, especially if we are blessed with the occasional nice day.
That is my story, and since you are still reading, you probably want to have a Natty on the Patty of your own. You really don’t have to stick with Natural Light, you can do whatever. I am just lucky that my friends are not really picky about their beer preferences.
The only thing I ask is that you try your best to rhyme.
Becks on the Deck
Stella with the Fella’s
Bock by the Dock
Homebrew for my whole crew
Mead with a dweeb
The possibilities are endless. Cheers