My friend Don, the same name and age as me, didn’t feel like going to work one Monday, so he called off sick. The next day, he still didn’t feel like going to work, so he called off “retired”. Yep, just up and left. Wham, bam, thank you mammoth corporation, I’m outta here. Good for him!
He was not being irresponsible. He had just suffered a traumatic life event, and the nature of his job and the company was such that he would be missed as a person, but his quick departure did not put his company in a bind. And I envy him. I envy him so very, very much. Because retirement shouldn’t be complicated. It should be so simple, and it is for most people. But if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I ain’t most people.
I have a video meeting with the company president and the HR manager (they're located in Indiana) and inform them of my plan to retire on April 30, 2021. I intend to retire two years early to write full-time and publish more books. This retirement date was previously negotiated with my wife, who was initially afraid that I wanted to lounge around watching Netflix and eating Cheetos all day while she continued to work. But the plan was workable and fit perfectly with our personal situation. It was a great plan. Such a great plan.
The people on the call were disappointed to hear the news but understood why I wanted to write full-time. In effect, I was giving them 14 months’ notice. Because my job involves specialized skills, they would take time to recruit, followed by several months of training. I gave them extended time so they would not be pressured and the transition would be smooth. I repeated several times during the meeting that the timeline was “very flexible” and could be easily changed if needed. Yes, flexible. Highly flexible. As flexible as a Russian gymnast! This was such a great plan. One of the best plans I have ever created.
On Friday the 13th , that things came to a stop in Ohio, and soon the entire nation. We done got coron-ned. Everything got shut down, and we masked up, sheltered in place, and wondered if we were all gonna die. It was hectic and stressful at work, and as the economy shut down, we had to put out economic and sales forecasts with virtually no reliable data. We expected that the virus would dissipate quickly – 15 Days To Slow The Spread! – but it just kept going and going, and the personal and work stress kept intensifying.
Now it was October, I’m supposed to retire in six months, and with everything happening, I’m stressing big time. My company had banned corporate travel, and everyone in the home office was working from home. This meant the company couldn't recruit for my position nationwide. I realized there was a problem, so I called the HR manager and said I would be willing to extend my retirement, eight months, to December 31, 2021. The company was relieved they had more time to replace me and quickly agreed to my proposal.
Some of my friends thought I was a fool to do this, arguing that it was the company’s issue to deal with. Others said I did the right thing. I have been friends with my boss for 21 years, which includes 12 years before I went to work with him. So, this wasn’t just a business decision, and what would I do with more free time during a pandemic anyway?
I get COVID so there was a chance I could die before I had a chance to retire. But it is a mild case which means I can keep moving toward by goal.
I’m still feeling lousy, when I get a call from the chief douchebag officer (the only douchebag who worked for the company, by the way) to give me my year-end work review. During the call he says condescending douchebagian voice, “Now, I don’t mind if you work until the end of 2021.” This angered me and I almost replied, “Oh yeah, well I just moved up, to let’s say NOW!” A variation of my friend Don’s technique. I just held my tongue and thought, “what an utter douchbag he is!”. Fortunately, the company disposed of the douchebag several months later (flushed him right out of the company), and surprisingly, I didn’t have a problem with that!
It looked like the pandemic was ending and I was so excited! The company president announced to everyone that I was planning to retire at the end of the year. He told them the recruiting process would commence soon. Yes! It was public, baby! I was getting to retirement! I could see the light. Freedom was right there for the taking. Whooo! Whooo! Post that job, interview those candidates, extend that offer and soon – I’m outta here!!!! Do I want to retire? Indeed I do!
In August, before the recruiting process gained any traction, we got coron-ned once again. Our big freight conference, which I thought would be my last big presentation, got canceled for the second year in a row. The company travel ban, which had been rescinded in May, was reactivated.
What to do now? Not an easy call. After much thought, I called the HR Manager and told her that the December 31, 2021 date was now a soft deadline. Yes, they could meet it if they wanted, but I knew they couldn’t. Once again, I expected the virus to fade and to end up retiring around March 31, 2022. The various COVID variants just kept making people sick, which meant recruiting for my replacement didn’t begin until January 2022.
They hire my replacement, and training begins. Because we are this far into 2022, it makes sense for the company and me to have me do the presentations at our big conference in September and retire at the end of that month.
My replacement is a millennial. Now I know you have read about the work habits of this group and probably believe the claims have been greatly exaggerated. All I will say is that when the millennials are old enough to start taking positions of authority in the business world – YOU ARE ALL SO SCREWED. I say you because I am now retired and fortunately, I probably won’t live long enough to watch them muck it all up.
I gave my final presentations at the conference and said my painful goodbyes. I wrapped up everything in the last two weeks of the month and actually edited a report on my final day. Yes, I was able to retire on September 30, 2022. Just 17 months late, after two delays. I’m not sure if I would have been ready to retire in April 2021, but I am really ready now!
Yes, it feels good to be retired. Fortunately, my blood pressure dropped significantly soon after I stopped having to train the millennial. And I am so glad I was able to retire when the stock market is doing so well. I am not lounging around doing nothing as my wife once feared, however, I must say that those new Cheetos flavors are rather tasty, I do admire the wisdom of Judge Judy, and some of those Netflix documentaries are very educational.