The grocery store we use the most in our development is Winn-Dixie. We can drive our golf cart there, the prices are reasonable, and the workers are friendly.

I noticed that a great number of employees in the store are elderly. I asked one cashier about that fact. She said, "A lot of us are performing our 'encore' career." That phrase intrigued me. When you think about it, "encore" is a nice way of describing an 'after-retirement' job.

The cashier also told me that she worked for years for the phone company in a New England state. She and her husband moved to Florida to escape winter weather. She obtained the job at Winn-Dixie to fill her hours and give her a little bit extra spending money. Sounds right to me.

Come to think of it, I've already had two encore careers. When I retired from the school district after almost 35 years, I took a part-time job as the coordinator for the county literacy program. That job lasted almost 2 years until we moved from PA to South Carolina.

In South Carolina, I served as the Children's Librarian at our local branch library for a few years until I had eye surgery and was forced to leave the job. So, I can completely understand the desire to stay active and develop an earning potential after your 'regular' job goes away.

A retired minister lives across the street from us here in Florida. He found an encore career working for a local undertaker. One of our friends in the development found a job working at the local golf course. Another works in a gift shop as a cashier. There are many examples of senior citizens working at part-time jobs. Most of them say they just want to get out of the house on a regular basis. In some cases, the extra income proves to be handy.

When we lived in South Carolina, one of our retired friends volunteered at a local hospital at the Welcome Desk. Apparently, she did such a good job that the hospital offered her a paid position in the Public Relations office. She accepted the job willingly and went on to a new encore career. It seems that volunteering can be the entry level for a job. That's how I obtained the job as Children's Librarian I volunteered at the library for a while first.

If you're not sure about taking on a job after retirement, don't do it right away. Enjoy the freedom of your days. But, when the days start getting long and the activities seem frivolous, then it might be time to plan something else.

Why not start with volunteering? Go to the library or the hospital or a day care center. Ask if they could use an extra hand a few hours a week. Keep to a schedule as if you were being paid for the position.

en we lived in South Carolina, I volunteered at Brookgreen Gardens, a wonderful sculpture garden, zoo, and arboretum. Mostly, I worked in the galleries, feeding information to the visitors and interpreting the history of the gardens. It was a joy. There were times when I worked three days a week for four or five hours each day. One might think that was exceptional, but there was a volunteer who put all the rest of us to shame.

This dedicated volunteer worked in the kitchen at the restaurant. She arrived before the gardens opened and left when it closed. She worked 5 or 6 days a week and never once missed unless she was ill. Everyone thought she was a paid employee. Who in their right mind would do all that volunteering for free?

When a paid position opened up in the restaurant, she refused it. Her response was, "I had my years of mandatory work. Now I work because I love it. If I'd get paid, I'd soon not love it anymore."

To each his own. That's what is nice about "encore careers." We can be picky.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.