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Today I meet with retirement counselor, bringing with me what I hope is sufficient documentation. While filing paperwork with my employer a while ago, I discovered (why should I have been surprised?) that the requirements listed one, two, three, are not always what the bureaucrats really require and you don't find out until you're actually filing.

I set this retirement meeting as far in advance of my retirement date as their computers would allow. Heaven forbid anyone should learn too soon if all their documentation is in order. And wending my way through the 1-800 telephone tree was frustrating enough, just to make the appointment, let alone try to figure out how to get a real, live person on the phone.

Don't misunderstand me. When I've taken their retirement preparation seminars, it's clear these people are professionals, and really know their stuff, but they are protected behind a Maginot Line consisting of telephone and online barriers. I suppose it makes sense, from their point of view. They'd spend their entire days talking to people like me instead of creating and disposing of paperwork.

I'm somewhat anxious about this meeting today. I was so intrepid at 16, leaving home to go across the entire continent, to go to college, having no idea what was ahead of me, but trusting that I could deal with it and that people would give me the information I needed.

I'm less confident now that the decisions are equally life-changing but there are fewer ways (or none) to recover from grievous error. How did I become so timid? Where is the adventurous, confident 16-year-old?

It will all work out just fine, I tell myself. I've faced the unknown before; I can do it again.

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