One interesting aspect of retirement is meeting a new set of people who are not connected to the more limited world of one’s previous work. Each has their own experiences of work and life generally. It doesn’t seem adequate to ask someone about their work over 40 or 50 years and expect them to sum themselves up in one convenient label. Teachers know only too well the reaction and pre-conceptions invoked by their own incomplete job-title. As the environment of employment has changed in our lives, a whole working career is hardly straightforward enough for one short description.
What I tend to look for in asking the question is an interest – in something specific and in people generally. This should frame a new friend in the present and not just by their past. I look for hinterland which is a good geographical term (George Chisholm, 1888). However, I have looked up “the further sense in which the term is commonly applied, especially by British politicians, is in talking about an individual’s depth and breadth of knowledge of other matters (or lack thereof), specifically of academic, artistic, cultural, literary and scientific pursuits. For instance, one could say, “X has a vast hinterland”, or “Y has no hinterland”.. The spread of this usage is usually credited to Denis Healey (British Defence Secretary 1964–1970, Chancellor of the Exchequer 1974–1979) and his wife Edna Healey, initially in the context of the supposed lack of hinterland of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.” (Source: Wikipedia)
I try to maintain a keen curiosity. But it can not be assumed in other people. Some lose the child-like questioning. Or they are too set in their assumptions.
It is, incidentally, one of the origins of my use of the word ‘pannage’ for this website: a forage for knowledge. Or life-long learning.
Read my blogpost A job, a sport and a hobby.