Tuesday, November 1, 2011


My boss of 11 years finally retired. Last Friday was his official last day. He announced, 4 years ago, that he would be gone by 2009. Well, a recession intervened and that caused him to have to delay his plans. I remember, in late 2008, hearing him yelling at his broker because his investments had dropped an average of 15-18%. My company 401(k) only lost 8% of value and my personal IRA lost 6% of value. I have very little so a 6% loss is a lot of money to me, but I looked at my numbers and tried to imagine how I'd feel if I'd lost 18%.

A year ago in June, he told us he would be gone "by the end of June 2011". As things happened, he had to delay retirement but the seeds had been sewn. We gradually stopped asking him for advice, asking for assistance, asking him a whole lot because he wasn't in the office. He'd call and ask if anything was going on. When I'd tell him, "Not yet", he'd decide to simply not come in. His friends would just laugh. "Yeah, he's retired in his mind already," they'd say. It was frustrating for us but we got through it. It also made the impression on me that if I get to the point where I will be retiring on a certain date, I'm not going to just not come in occasionally. I would hope I respect my work colleagues too much to do that to them. My last day might be a half day, but I'll be in the office working as I usually do, up to cleaning it out and leaving.

A friend of mine, whom I've known for some 20 years, is wrestling with his employment. "Deb, I hate my job, just hate it." He's really busy and is often able to get overtime, but he works with some ill-mannered, boorish and downright stupid people. The stories he writes me about the things they do make me glad the only really irritating thing I had to deal with was an 11-1:30 office time.

And it's not that he hates what he does. I actually loves the job part. The people make it a horrible experience. "Oh well, I suppose it's like this everywhere. What if I leave and the job I go to is worse than this?" How do I respond to that? I don't quite know what to say to a friend who keeps on keeping on simply because it's a paycheck and he worries he won't find anything better. At what point is even a great job not worth it because of your co-workers. I don't know that I can answer that question for him.

I looked at the vacant chair at the end of last week. The boss actually vacated his office and turned in his keys last Wednesday. I don't know that I'll be able to retire any time within what could be considered "soon" and my friend just laughs when I mention retirement. I hope my former boss is happy in the location he chose to retire to.

It seems to me the proverbial "American Dream" has changed. It's now not to own a home, it's to have a job and to be able to provide for oneself and family. There is no retirement as my boss is experiencing, for a lot of us. The best we'll be able to do is hold our own. A lot of things change when someone retires. I think perspective is a big one.

Beverage:  Water


No comments:

Post a Comment