Retiring to Awesome

Retire TO something not FROM something

It’s one thing to say you’re going to retire from your job, but it’s an entirely different thing to say you’re going to retire to something better. I recently retired from a job that I was quite satisfied with. This note describes reasons why someone would want to retire from a job, but not why I retired from my job.

Retirement is not a matter of looking at the calendar and realizing one has reached a certain fixed age. It’s a matter of working because you have a good reason for staying on the job. That reason should be something positive and should be something internal to oneself. Working versus retirement is a matter of knowing what one is accomplishing and why s/he should accomplish it.

It is ironic that the guy who sang this song was named Johnny Paycheck.

Take this job and shove it
I ain’t working here no more
My woman done left and took all the reasons
I was working for
You better not try to stand in my way
‘Cause I’m walkin’ out the door

In the first verse of this song, the singer has a reason for working, and that’s to support his woman. Or more likely to pay for things his departing woman will take in divorce court.

Before everyone had direct deposit, we got paychecks in envelopes. On payday I’d ask co-workers, “Do you ever wonder why we’re all here?” Before s/he could get wrapped around the axle with existential angst, I’d hold up my pay envelope and say, “Here’s your answer.” Not a serious question or answer. One really ought to have a better reason to stay in a job than that one needs the money.

Take this job and shove it
I ain’t working here no more
I been workin’ in this factory
For nigh on fifteen years
All this time I watched my woman
Drownin’ in a pool of tears
And I’ve seen a lot of good folks die
That had a lot of bills to pay
I’d give the shirt right offa’ my back
If I had the guts to say

The question of retiring, versus continuing to work is important because we are not guaranteed three-score and ten. And one ought not spend time in a job one likes less than other activities that could fill the days of retirement. Nevertheless, fear tends to freeze people into inaction.

Fear-borne inaction is not awesome.

Take this job and shove it
I ain’t working here no more
My woman done left and took all the reasons
I was workin’ for
You better not try to stand in my way
‘Cause I’m walkin’ out the door
Take this job and shove it
I ain’t workin’ here no more

After we set aside the fear of walking out of a well paying job, and facing into the possibility of straitened circumstances (e.g. dining on catfood during retirement), the question of working versus retiring turns on what lies out that door. Successful retirement should be to something better, be it golfing in Florida, building Habitat for Humanity houses, or tutoring at-risk youts. These are the things that constitute retiring to awesome.

Steve Poling

Masters degrees in math and computer science. Poet in several computer languages. I write stories about Sherlock Holmes' brother Mycroft, steampunk, and SF.

Grand Rapids, Michigan http://www.catfoodretirement.com