Chapter Four
Chapter Four – The first time ever someone says to me> Nice Package!

Chapters - Click on the numbers ===>









It’s been a long time since I wrote in my Road to 50 pages. It’s been almost 2 years since chapter 3 which involved my gall bladder removal operation. The recovery was quick and I can’t really say if there were any long term effects. My digestion seems to be almost the same as before with no problems. That have been a few bouts with having to find a bathroom very quickly but I am not sure if that was the result of age, what I consumed or not having a gall bladder to store up bile for digestion. Eating probiotic yoghurt may have had something to with it too which I have now stopped doing just in case that was causing the sudden to expel all solids* from my body. * I use the word ‘solid’ very loosely.
Enough about digestion, except to say that when I first started this 50’s column, I had just been through the mandatory 50 year old ‘up periscope’ inspection. What this means is that I am that much closer to my next invasion of privacy. Looking at my ‘clean’ results in 2006, the doctor had told me a repeat visit in 4 to 5 years was in order. For the sake of my sphincter, I will choose 5 years which would have normally taken me to my planned year of retirement (2011). The reason I say ‘normally’ would take me to my retirement age is why I am currently writing chapter 4.

This is not a sad story where I will tell you that the past year’s financial crisis has taken such a toll on my investments that I now have to work until 65 and then have to take a greeter’s job at Wal-Mart. On the contrary, partly due to the financial crisis, my employer has decided that anyone older than 52 1/2 in June 2009, would be offered a 'voluntary' (read: take it before we tell you to take it) golden handshake in order to streamline operations and let younger (read: less paid) people take over activities. Being a global company, they could also provide global services (read: East Indians, Costa Ricans and Malaysians), that would provide the same services for much less money (read: for a lot less service)

So the company makes us an offer that was hard (read: impossible) to refuse. In my case, I would get paid full salary for NOT coming to work for the next 17 months and then would continue to pay me for some time AFTER I start collecting my pension in June 2011. When this was first announced, I really thought I was dreaming and that I would eventually wake up to find that I really DID have to work until 65 and then look at moving closer to a Wal-Mart.
(btw - I do not want to mention the company I work for in case they Google this article.)

Anyway, of the 52.5 years and 'olders' at our company, I wasn’t the first in line with my signed papers but I would have signed during the announcement in fear they tried to take back the offer. The only condition in signing these papers is that you absolutely had no control of your departure date. It could be any time from August 31, 2009 to December 2010 and in some cases could be later. If you left before the date you were given, you would lose all benefits of the ‘package’. In my case, I was a little concerned, as there is a rumour at work that I am indispensable and irreplaceable which could not be further from the truth. Less than 2 months before this announcement, my big boss, had told me that I was too ‘strategic’ to let go and that with the projects coming in the next couple of years, he wanted me on board to make sure things would work properly. Although I was flattered, our strategic direction was now coming from our global entity which would make all of my ‘strategic’ input worthless anyway.

This announcement was made in June (2009) with a promise of knowing our departure date by September 15th. It now looks like it will be mid October before we find out anything. At this point, I am a little frustrated on 2 counts. One, I really want to leave by the end of this year to enjoy the gift of an extra 17 months of life that my company has generously donated to me. Two, since this exodus will certainly cause a restructuring of IT services (of which I managed two of the services), I am finding that in order to leave for the end of the year, I will need some time to transition some of my so-called knowledge to whomever will take on my responsibilities.

Update: Late on Friday October 9th, I received the letter (e-mail) confirming my departure date. December 31, 2009, exactly what I had wished for. Of the letter contained the original clause that this date could be changed anytime before December 31, 2010 but once I am gone, it might be difficult to claw me back. Anyway, I will make it difficult by traveling at lot and I might change my phone number ;-) so they can't reach me. On the following Wednesday (when I was absent on bereavement), the full company wide announcement was made along with the restructuring plans. At the time I am writing this, I only have 32 workdays left to assure that I can leave smoothly by the end of the year. (43 workdays minus 11 days vacation). I want to take my vacation to avoid getting paid for those days as the government has enough money. This will leave me with 100% of 11 days instead of 50% of the money. I'm sure the government won't suffer to much as they will getting their taxes on 26 days of vacation that I have accumulated for next year (that I have to get paid for).

The only negative part of my departure, is the fact that my position is being eliminated (merged with another manager's responsibilities) which means that my 'natural' successor will not have to opportunity to progress in the company as promised. Of course the negative part of the whole departure (over 100 employees of about 750) is that many people will be taking on many more activities without due compensation. The morale of the people that will remain is already being felt in the hallways. Good luck to everyone remaining and good luck to all the departed especially the 35 or so that didn't 'volunteer' to end their careers early.

As for me, I really couldn't be happier. The only negative thing I see about retiring at 53 years and 7 months of age, is the people telling me that I am too young to retire. The fact is that no one is too young to retire. You can only be too poor to retire. I started working when I was 14 delivering La Presse right after school. I would have done the Gazette but that was too early for me and the Two Mountains Gazette Delivery Cartel would have probably not allowed me. This means that I have been making some form of money for almost 40 years. I say: That's enough work, now it time to play. Why now? Leonard Cohen wrote a song back in 1988 (before he was 55). It starts "All my friends are gone and my hair is grey, I ache in the places where I used to play". I still remember hearing those lines back in 88 and they stuck with me since. The song is called Tower Of Song and in my case It should read, All my hair is gone and some friends are gay, I don't ache too much, so I'll begin to play.

I have been given a gift to be able to do things while healthy and young and not have to be in an office for 1500 hours a year for the next while. I will gladly take it, thank you. I won't be going it alone either as "fortunately", my wife was given a not so voluntary boot after 32 years of service at an despicable company which I will name (Bell Canada) in August 2008. She too, was too young (51) to retire according to the legend but I never once said that to her. In conclusion, you are never too young or too old to play. If you are, make sure your rocking chair is not too near the edge of the balcony...... 

Chapter 5 will be written when I get bored of not going to work.....Don't hold your breath.