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Is retirement all that great?

It’s 5:30 a.m. and I’m sitting at the keyboard on yet another Tuesday deadline day. I’m still at least 12 storiesbehind. Didn’t write at least  eight left over from last week, including the ones about the San Juan streets, the McAllen bridge, the Pharr cop in trouble with the young woman, Lone Star Bank, the Alamo roads, Donna ISD’s upset (paper shredding, attorney fees, teacher busted for alleged wrongful student interaction), the DPS presence in the Valley, and the McAllen elections. No wonder I’m still thinking about retirement. Most people at this hour are still in bed. The column I wrote two weeks ago titled “When to retire” struck a nerve with some people. The ones I heard back from went something like this – “I’ve been giving that some thought myself.” Retirement. Then I hear from some guys I know in their 80s who have been retired for years, and they’re looking for something to do: “Hey, Gregg, do you have anything I can do for you? I’m bored. I’ll do just about anything. I’ll even deliver papers.” Seriously, guys in their 80s looking for something to do? It’s just that they’ve been retired for years now, but they’re still in relatively good health. And yet they’re bored out of their gourd. They feel irrelevant to life. So what’s the answer to it all? Work until you drop? I wish I knew the answer. I should get in touch with Peter Torgerson and see if he knows the answer. Torgerson, as most longtime Valley residents know, was the popular, goodlooking news anchor at the local ABC affiliate KRGV-TV when he found luck in a lottery ticket in the 1990s. He was on his way to a friend’s birthday party when he decided to buy his friend a lottery ticket as a present. With one stipulation. As he handed his friend the lottery ticket, he told him, if you hit the jackpot, we split the money. Well, as luck would have it, the lottery ticket struck gold. Thirty-seven million dollars to be exact. The two men took the cash option and split more than $19 million between them. Shortly after, Torgerson retired from the KRGV-TV news set. Who wouldn’t? That was in 1999. I was 44. Torgerson was 43. To say that I was more than a little jealous at the newsman’s good fortune might be an understatement. That lottery story became one of those Valley legends. In fact, it not only hit the local news, as expected, but state news outlets as well. I always thought, wasn’t Torgerson fortunate to have added that stipulation to the birthday present he handed his friends: we split the proceeds if you hit the jackpot. Imagine buying a lottery ticket as a birthday present without throwing in that caveat – we split the proceeds if you win – and then watch the friend walk away with millions? How hard would it be to live with that? Well, as luck would have it, retirement might not be all that it’s cracked up to be. For this column, I couldn’t quite remember how to spell Torgerson’s name. Was it Torgeson or Torgerson? Or Torgersen? So I hit GOOGLE, typed in “Peter Torgerson,” figuring his last name did have an R in it, and an O, and sure enough, up pops his name. But not in an entirely good way. Because amid all the stories still posted online from 1999 about his lottery winnings, there is the story of him getting stopped by the Harlingen cops in 2012 and arrested and charged with suspicion of drunk driving. KGBT-TV, always the happy competitor to KRGV-TV, posted the story along with Torgerson’s mug shot. In it, he’s smiling, he looks happy, but you can see he’s aged, and he’s gained some weight. Of course, at the time of his arrest in ‘12, he was 56, at least 13 years removed from the KRGV-TV anchor desk. He refused a breathalyzer test, by the way. At the time of Torgerson’s arrest, he was driving a 2006 Porsche Cayenne, so at least it’s clear he’s managed his money reasonably well. And I’m not ridiculing the guy. Good for him winning all that dough. When he hit the jackpot, along with his friend, he was 43 and had been at the news desk for approximately 20 years. A local TV star at a  elatively young age, the question is, what’s he beendoing for the last 16 years of his life? And is he happy? Online, Torgerson’s mug shot is posted. He’s heavier, and his hair is longer and shaggier, but he’s smiling. I’m not that unkind to post the mug-shot photo. Instead, I’ll post a photo from one of Peter’s on-air appearances from 1988, which you can still find online at youtube – “KRGV Eyewitness News Brief, 1988.” I wish him well while I continue contemplating retirement. What’s the answer? I know my focus on it has got something to do with me turning 60 in only 13.5 more weeks. Got to get that number out of my head. Sixty’s the new 40. That’s my mantra. Meanwhile, it’s 6:40 a.m.. This column is complete. Only eight more stories left to write before this day is over and done.

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