Retirement Unexpected

An Allegory:

Charlie was looking forward to his 65th birthday in three months. He had worked for the same company for 25 years and had to endure getting no pay raises, increasing costs for benefits, shifting of work hours, being called into work when someone was sick or on vacation, etc.

He had risen to Assistant Manager of Inventory Control.  Because of some unfortunate dips in the market, his retirement portfolio was not too robust.

Since he was in excellent health except for a slight glucose level of 99-102 and a bit overweight, he expected to work until 72.  The children were gone, and his wife was doing a job which did not pay much, but she enjoyed her work.

When Charlie arrived at work, there was a note on his Banker’s Lamp to come to the HR Office.  Charlie smiled, “Finally, they are taking my suggestion to have a paid birthday for the employee.”  He had labored long and hard on this morale boaster to have workers receive their birthday off with pay.

When he arrived at the HR Office, the Administrative Assistant Sallie did not look up.  She just said, “Go right in.”

Charlie thought this was strange since Sallie was always so chirper and always made eye-contact.  Mister Theus motioned to a chair without looking up.

“Charlie, as you know the economy is the pits.  Prices are constantly rising for the things this company needs to buy.  I won’t go into this health care fiasco which the government forced on employers as well as this salary overtime nonsense. As you know, there was no pay increase this year and won’t be in the foreseeable future.”

Mister Theus continued for twenty minutes on the dismal state of the world. Finally, he looked up at Charlie who was very perplexed by the whole conversation.

“Charlie, we are phrasing out the Assistant Manager positions. We feel we are too top-heavy. He picked an envelope from his desk and handed to Charlie.  “Here’s three-month severance pay.  Security will help you clean out your desk. We hope the best for you in retirement because you deserve it. I really envy you getting out of this rat race.  Have a good one.”  Mister Theus stated with two thumbs up.

Before Charlie could say a word, two security officers appeared.  As they were escorting him to his desk, he saw his friend Bill, Assistant Manager for Billing, heading down the hall toward HR.

Bill had been with the company for 18 years and was approaching his 65th birthday as well in four months.  However, Bill’s twin girls were in a private college with fourteen months before graduation.

Bill gave Charlie an inquisitive look.  Charlie just shook his head.

Security took Charlie’s keys,  entry card, and took him down to the parking garage when an attendant was waiting to remove his parking decal.  As he exited the parking garage, his old friend Ralph whispered to him as he raised the bar, “It’s a dirty shame what they are doing to us older workers.”

“What did they do to you, Ralph?”

“I have been cut to half time as of Monday.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Charlie, take care.”

Ralph had been with the company for fifteen years.  He was nearing 64 in five months.

Commentary:

In many ways life is tough as you age.  This is especially true at work when you observe people who do not share your work ethic.

You feel as though you are constantly running and doing while other people seem to have plenty of time to talk and play games on the internet.

A friend who works at a university as an Administrator was told by his boss,

“We are cutting your position.”  In the ensuing conversation his boss said we thought it was time for you to retire.

My friend was born in 1948.  They had cut his wife to half time last May.

My friend told me in the last twelve months a number of faculty and staff positions have been phased out.  He and his wife left their positions several years in another state to work for this university operated by their religious organization.

They never thought they would be treated this way. Using financial exigency to remove employees is a very cut throat method, especially when they are in their 60s.

G. D. Williams © 2016

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