My first job was working for some family friends when I was around ten. The family owned a plant nursery, and I, along with their youngest son, helped the migrant workers in the fields. The scene that sticks with me is Brian and I planting shrub seedlings and trying to tell elephant jokes to the other workers in pidgin-Spanish.
That was over 50 years ago. Since that time I have:
- Worked at a convenience store (High School) where I was let go due needing too much time off for school activities.
- Two summers working with my high school’s television production program.
- Five summers working in the packing house of a peach farm.
- Night manager for Burger Chef.
- Over-night DJ at WPJS. Oddest firing I’ve ever heard – I was actually told they were letting me go because I “didn’t get to work until just before my shift started and then I would leave when it was over.” What? I thought that was how a job worked.
- Four months delivering bread.
- Over 18 years at a chemical plant; first as an operator and then most of that time as a lab technician.
- Assistant manager for Wendy’s. (I still have, and wear, the jacket.)
- Selling cheap life insurance to poor people. I have never disliked a job more in my life.
- Wendy’s part II.
- Sears – Hardware, Lawn & Garden, and Electronics. I really liked this job, and I like to think I was pretty good at it.
- Moved to Florida with indication that I would be able to transfer to the local Sears. A series of miscommunications (one manager on vacation and then another) and I had to find work. That lead to:
- Call center part I – I started on the phones, worked on several different client programs, and was eventually put in charge of Workforce Management. I walked away for several months and then returned to the same position. After a merger with another company the department grew to four times the original size (me and one other). I had found something I really enjoyed and was planning on a long tenure there. And then we were outsourced. Our entire department’s functions were moved to the Philippines. So, in my fifties I was looking for work again.
- Call center part II – Began working for Merlin Entertainments, the parent company of LEGOLAND® and their other properties. When my hours started to be reduced (that’s a whole other story about how they roll in the UK) I found a new job.
- Call center part III – Hilton. The work was OK, but the commute was brutal. Add to that the fact that this happened when gas was about $4/gal. and I was struggling to make enough money just to make it back and forth to work. Not a good situation to say the least.
- Did some odd jobs and pickup work until…
- Call center part IV – Back at Merlin. Several month in I was given full-time status which meant benefits and avoiding seasonal hour cuts. Best of all I was doing something I really enjoyed.
- November, 2017 – I turned 62. The government says I can start drawing my Social Security, and I can start receiving my pension from the chemical plant.
While I cut back on my hours significantly and semi-semi-retired in December, today is my last official day of full-time employment. And that brings us to the title of this post – “Retirement’s Odd Cousin”. That familial odd duck is Semi-Retirement. Perhaps the weirdest thing is that tomorrow, the day after my “retirement” I’m on the schedule. Monday too. And then it’s six days off. Six! Most of my vacations haven’t been that long. I have been counting down to this day since I made the decision in August. Today the countdown reaches zero. Well, except for working the next two days. Semi-retirement, you are the retirement relative to whom no one quite knows how to react. That’s OK. After 50 years in the workforce I’m looking forward to getting to know you quite well.