Fifty Eight

If things continue the way they are going, I should be able to retire by age 58. To me, that’s a big deal. Because my father passed away at age 58. He never got the luxury of retirement.

For most of my youth (until age 17 maybe) my father worked long hours for a computer company. We hardly saw him. On his days off he spent it golfing with his friends. He wasn’t much of a family man nor did we do many vacations with him. But when he was let go from his job after fifteen years, he took his severance pay and enjoyed almost a year of golfing. Then he needed to work again. He put in long hours and wasn’t around once more. Then he was diagnosed with cancer. A couple years later- he was gone.

Not the life I want.

If I am still with CN Rail, it means I only have to work for a little over 15 more years to receive a decent pension. I’ve already been working here steadily since 2007 (minus layoffs at the start). Considering I have been in the work force for 30 years so far give or take, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And I’m already getting excited about it.

Since My father passed away, I have focused on time with my family. Only on a rare occasion have I worked long hours and put in extra time. At one point it was to pay for my wedding. Another was to afford a down payment for our first home. Now my time off is as valuable as the time I put in to work.

Knowing that I have put in 2/3 of the work towards retirement is exciting. It’s time to start planning what to do with the time off. I look forward to sharing that next chapter with my wife. Her and I are getting started on those long term goals. But first, it’s time to create a countdown. 5544 days to go.

A Note to Future Me

Ah, retirement.  The main goal that we are all promised as we enter into the workforce.  The so called light at the end of the tunnel.  But what happens as we get closer to “that age”?

I work in an environment that allows people to make careers out of it.  Strange to think that there is still a place that you can work right out of high school and work until 65 (55 if you want to go early).  How did I find this mystical place?  Luck.  Pure dumb luck.  And I plan on being here until I’m at least 57.  That means I’ll have put in 25 years of service.  Only 16 years to go.  A job with a pension plan?  Better not screw this one up.

When people at my work do retire, one of three things seems to occur:

1. They go work for a similar railroad industry and “double dip”.

2. They enjoy the time off and see more of their family and friends, travel the world, enjoy a new found freedom.

Or 3. Die within a couple of years.

Look! A graph. It seems legit.

I wish I was joking about number 3.  But there have been people who have retired from my place of work only to die within a few months.  It seems to stem from a lack of purpose.  There is also a direct correlation with years working and how many years you will live.  That’s a scary thought.

Choice number 1 is almost the same as number 3.  A sense of purpose is keeping people working well into their 60’s or even 70’s.  For some, it’s also an enjoyment of what they know or do that keeps the drive alive.  But what happens when the double dip retirement is over?

For me, choice 2 is what I am aiming for.  All of these long days and nights have an end in sight.  There is an entire world out there that I want to explore with my wife.  When I retire, our youngest will be at least 26.  Hopefully all of my children will have gotten into their own walk of life by this time. As they enter the rat race and aim for a quality of life that they deem comfortable, I hope one day they can see an end in sight.

Note to future me: In 2033- retire.  

It will be a time to rediscover why my wife and I connect the way we do.  A little bit of travel, a little bit of fun, and a lot of early nights and afternoon crossword puzzles.  You’ll still be young enough to enjoy life.  To squander the opportunity.

I like being liked

It’s a good feeling to know that people like you.  I just returned to work after my vacations and was treated with sincerity and kindness.  My coworkers were genuinely happy to see me again, asking questions about where I was, and why I left for so long.  It’s funny to think that my presence was actually missed. 

Today, one of my coworkers is retiring.  She handed me a business card as I left.  She’s not working somewhere else or starting a home business.  The card was her way of saying goodbye to everyone she knows from work.  It wasn’t a Hallmark greeting card in any form.  The sentiment was genuine and came from her heart.  Here is what it said:

“What made it all worthwhile are the people I worked with.  Thank you for your kindness and for the laughs.  Take care and keep in touch.”

A lot of people really liked her and she will be missed.  She was often there with a story of “the good ol’ days of railroading” from way back when.  All of the changes to how things were once done will slowly slip from people’s minds as more and more people retire.  Our work environment is in a constant state of change.

When I get closer to retirement, I hope that I too will be able to leave my work with a smile knowing that what I did impacted those around me.  Hopefully it will be in such a positive way as my coworker has done over the years.  I may be liked now by my coworkers, but I don’t want to become the bitter old guy who everyone hates to be around and can’t wait until I finally retire.  There’s no need for that.  I think I can stay positive throughout my career.  Only time will tell.

I like being liked.