Retirement’s Odd Cousin

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.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2018. Here are some random thoughts regarding the year past and the one to come.

In 2017 I accomplished something I’ve wanted to do for years (and should have done years ago) – I read the entire bible. I used the Classic Reading Plan from BibleStudyTools.com to receive three passages each day. I only missed a couple of days due to the internet being out during hurricane Irma, and caught up once we had power again. What a blessed sense of accomplishment to reading the entire Bible. Thank you Lord! I am looking forward to doing it again this year.

One thing that helped was making that reading a daily habit. Each morning I would open my email, delete the new junk that had accumulated over night, and begin reading. After that I would start my other year long accomplishment – deleting part of the twelve years of email in my gmail account as I mentioned here. I am happy to say that I am down to around 400 total emails, almost all that I want to save for some reason or another along with a few that will be deleted once their usefulness has passed.

Now, about Irma. The storm came to Florida on September 10th leaving us without power for a few days. We were uncomfortable, but safe. Our property, however, did see some significant damage. Behind the house we lost two trees, and a lot of other branches. The trees fell away from the house and cars, praise God. The other good news about the trees is that we have talked about taking them down anyway. Now they are (mostly) down, although I still have quite a bit of cleanup yet to do. The damage to the house was a front bedroom that was originally a porch. The shingles blew off letting in the rain. That soaked the Sheetrock on the ceiling which collapsed on the floor ruining the carpeting. So far I have pulled up the carpet, put new plywood, felt, and shingles on the roof (well, almost done). Next up will be finishing the roof and then putting up new ceiling. The floor, not carpet, will be next and then the room will have to be partially repainted.

Another milestone in 2017 was my 62nd birthday. What makes that significant is that the government says that is the earliest that I can start drawing my Social Security check, although my “normal” retirement date would be February of 2021. With that in mind I have been transitioning from full to part-time at work. Instead of a 40ish hour work week I will be working about five days per two week pay period. I am thrilled that one of my first new schedules has me off for six straight days!

Of course retirement (or even semi-retirement) does not equal leisure. There are quite a few projects around here that will take up a good part of my time. In addition to the bedroom repairs and finishing taking down the rest of those darn trees I am looking forward to starting a nice garden. Then there are the normal repairs, upgrades, and remodels you have with any home. Hopefully I’ll still have some time for more leisurely pursuits like leveling up some Alts on WoW and, who knows, writing more here.

Finally, I pray that your new year will be filled with peace, joy, happiness and accomplishment. Here’s to a great 2018.

Work and “Home”

I love it when a plan comes togetherI haven’t lived in the Delaware Valley since the 70’s, but part of me will always consider that home. When I was in high school I would catch a bus and head to Philly for the day or jump on the high speed line to a Phillies game. Now I’m living in Florida and working for Merlin Entertainments, a job I really love. Now those two pieces of my life are coming together.

Legoland Discovery Center, a chain of children’s attractions, plans to open a location at Plymouth Meeting Mall as the mall’s owner, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), seeks to drum up business at the property.

Construction will begin in the summer on the 33,000-square-foot attraction, which will include Lego-block play areas, a cinema, and a “Miniland” with Lego-block replicas of Philadelphia-area buildings, PREIT said Monday.

I work with several of our Discovery Centers as part of my job, and they’re really kind of cool. They are designed for kids 3-10 and have all sort of Legos to see, build, and play with.

The most amazing part to me and many adults is the “Miniland” that is a part of each center. They are amazing replicas of local buildings built out of Lego bricks. Our Master Model Builders are unbelievably talented and I am anxious to see what they create for Philadelphia.

To all my friends and family still living in the area, make your plans to visit sometime after it opens. Maybe we’ll get to chat when you call in to get your tickets.

Football Sunday…Oh, Wait

eaglesbucsAh, Sunday. Time to relax and watch a little football. I grew up in South Jersey just outside of Philadelphia, and have been a loyal Eagles (Phillies and Flyers too) fan for as long as I can remember. Having moved around a bit I do occasionally share some of that loyalty with the local team, sort of like a substitute to watch on bye weeks and such. Being the fan of an out of market team can be difficult. While the Bucs are my local backup, it’s a bit frustrating to have the Eagles game bumped for the local game.

Well today it’s easy. The Eagles host Tampa Bay at 1:00. I’ll be kicking back with some snacks and an A&W cheering on the guys in green.

Oh, wait…

bored-at-work1It’s my work weekend.

It Is Grand

Back in August I returned to working at the North American Customer Service Center for Merlin Entertainments. There were many reasons for this including the fact that I really needed to work and I thoroughly enjoyed my previous employment with this company. For those of you who don’t know, Merlin operates 110 attractions in 23 countries across four continents. Our center takes calls (or will soon be taking calls) for:

  • LEGOLAND® and the LEGOLAND Hotels in California* and Florida
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Centers (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth*, Kansas City, Toronto*, Westchester)
  • Madame Tussauds (Hollywood*, Las Vegas*, New York, San Francisco*, Washington DC)
  • The Eye Brand in Orlando
  • SEA LIFE Aquariums (Arizona*, California*, Charlotte-Concord, Dallas-Fort Worth*, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Orlando)
  • The Dungeons in San Francisco*

The attractions marked with an asterisk* are those I work with.

There was another compelling reason for my return. The company and the CSC are growing rapidly. After months of discussion and planning we moved to a much larger space, and talks of expanding that space have already begun. That expansion means more people and more opportunities.

On November 11th we held our Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting.

grandopening

Exciting times!