A few hours ago I walked out of work for the last time. (Actually, it’s likely I’ll visit again, which of course involves both walking in and out, but that will be as retiree come back to visit. (Or possibly a consultant come back to save their ass, but that seems somewhat unlikely on several counts.)) Yet in the poetic sense, it was the last time.
It wasn’t quite as weird as one might think. I’ve been leaving in my head and heart for a while. Today was more like a wheel that’s been slowing down finally coming to a stop. A final turn. Answering one last email, and then out the door.
Today marked the end of an era.
I’ve been earning a paycheck pretty consistently since 1972 (just over forty years of paychecks and work duties). I’ve written about my first job at the drive-in dairy. It’s really something to look back over all the years since.
What’s the old saying about how, “Life is what happens while you’re making plans.” When you’re the sort of person who doesn’t make plans, then life really happens! I never had much of a vision about what I wanted to grow up to be. Apparently the answer was: a computer programmer. In some ways, if you’ve known me all my life, that wasn’t surprising.
[Back in grade school, riding the school bus, I was using a weight suspended from a string to show a classmate how the acceleration of the bus is revealed by the movement of the weight. She said to me, “You have to be a famous scientist when you grow up so I can say I knew you!” But that science ship sailed without me once I discovered theatre and the arts and found my artistic soul.]
A co-worker who was instrumental to the success (let’s call it that) of this project was commiserating about the let down you feel upon completing a big project. Nine months on this one; we basically made a baby! And there is almost a sense of “postpartum depression” once you “deliver” the goods.
And we did put this into production with a day to spare (oh, we had oodles of time; I wonder why we were so concerned). There are still some rough edges to be smoothed down, and there really needs to be a version 2… but none of that is my responsibility anymore.
It’s a little hard letting go!
There has been forty years of responsibilities. Forty years of projects and tasks and deadlines and time demands and questions… endless questions. The last thirty-three years at The Company have been even more filled with those projects, deadlines, demands and questions. Thirty-three years of being responsible, of being “the one” that got the job done.
And now, after so long, I answer to no one. No more deadlines. No more projects. No more being responsible for keeping the system running.
No More Questions!
That last point alone sounds like heaven. There have been days when I got none of my own work done, because I was fielding questions (emails) from people all day long. A key reason why I kept my hours on “west coast time” from 9:00 (-ish…usually later) to 6:00 (-ish…usually later) was that the time after 4:00 (yes, -ish) was the time I could focus on my shit after dealing with everyone else’s shit all day. Sometimes working at home was the only way to get a real day’s work done.
A question I’ve heard quite a lot this week is, “So what are you going to do next.” (Next time I retire, I’m going to print up cards I can hand out. Talk about being sick of questions!)
Well, I’m going to sleep for a week. And then? And then I’m going to do whatever the fuck I feel like for the rest of my life! Not being a planner, I don’t know what that will be. Ask me afterwards; then I’ll know.
But being someone with a lot of hobbies and interests, I know I won’t be bored! In fact, the idea of having all that time to myself sounds glorious. No longer will spending a day reading blogs (rather than writing my own) steal precious time from my weekend or vacation days. No longer will I need to juggle or manage my free time.
I’ve waited for this day for a long time. Any worker does. And it’s kind of nice that it’s here while I’m still young enough to enjoy it.
The co-worker I mentioned pulled together a nice Happy Hour Retirement Celebration for me last Wednesday (she’s a real sweetheart—I’m really going to miss working with her—her help was invaluable, and we had a lot of fun working together).
At that party, my favorite ex-boss mentioned a saying about retirement. He said, “There’s Go-Go, then Slo-Go and finally No-Go. The object is to retire while you still have some Go-Go.”
Good advice. I’m taking it!
This marks the end of The “Take Three” Cycle of blogs (see my Index page if you have no idea what that means). I haven’t decided what to call the next Cycle, yet. “The Retirement Cycle” perhaps? (Nah, too boring. Need something better.)
There have been months of half-assed blog posts while I’ve tried to keep my hand in a bit. Now, we shall see what comes next.
The New Cycle begins. I plan to start by picking up some dropped threads from earlier.
And then I have stacks and stacks of notes. (And quite honestly, I probably get a new idea for a post almost daily, which is where all those stacks of notes come from. In such a complex, rich world, there is so much to write about! And now my time being all mine, I can!