Of Retirement and Things
My dad retired two weeks ago. Of course it’s awesome and well deserved, but there is some part of my brain that wonders where in the hell all that time went. How can my dad be retired? I’ve had to create room for lots of pondering as a result of my father’s milestone. So, what follows is a brain dump of things that have been floating around my headspace recently.
I resent the American work ethic.
I’ve been a hardworking girl since before I even started kindergarten, because it made people happy. I grew up doing my chores and my homework like a good American, and when I started my first full-time job with benefits at 19, I was sure to follow all the rules. My supervisors mostly loved me, and in return I gushed at them about how much I loved my paid sick leave, 401(k) contributions, and holiday and vacation pay. But at 30-something, I resent that I’m expected to be perfectly content with overly stingy employee policies. It’s as if all the HR departments in America collectively believe we can’t read and we’ll never find out how they do it in, say, Europe.
I don’t love working.
I like what I do, but I sure don’t love it. Dress a job up and call it a career if you want, but no matter how great the pay is or how well I get along with my colleagues there will always be someplace else I’d rather be. That said, I consider myself extremely lucky that the last three or so positions I’ve held (current position included) have been enjoyable on some level – because before that I had some wildly Craptastic® jobs.
But there’s no rationalizing away the sadness that comes when I consider my long, long future as an employee. 5 days on and 2 days off ad nauseum for another 35 years? That’s slightly depressing. You see, there’s a fiercely independent Emily in here, and she doesn’t like other people making assumptions about what she’s supposed to do with her time. So she gets a little cranky when They™ have the gall to schedule her every Monday through Friday for what seems like an eternity. The nerve!
Now that I know what the grind is really like, I regret being such an expensive child. Dad might’ve been able to retire years ago.
I remember when I got to visit dad’s work once
But it wasn’t your ordinary grade school take-your-kid-to-work type thing.
I was 18 and working part-time at the GE plant in my rinky-dink hometown. Dad had been laid off from the same plant just a few months earlier and had moved on to do what chemists do elsewhere. (By the way, you might be as surprised as my 8-year-old self to learn that “what chemists do” does not entail inventing magic potions.) Anyway, while on-site at GE one morning during the summer after high school, I was introduced to some dude who asked me if I was Dave’s kid. I said yes, and he replied, “That guy is one of the best people I know.”
Same here, dude. Same. Here.