March 31, 2010, will be my official last day of work from my “day job” (the job that feeds me and keeps me out of the rain). After working full-time for 45 years, making my mark in sales, construction, marketing, and in various areas of administration, I finally get the privilege to reap the fruits of my labors. There is, however, a certain irony that my first day of retirement falls on April Fool’s Day. Perhaps this is merely a random coincidence, or maybe there is a deeper meaning.
If you’ve been following my blog, you know that Amazon Encore released my novel, They Never Die Quietly, for sale on February 16, 2010. And you also know that I’m working on a sequel and am betting the farm that my writing career will yield enough income to keep me in vittles.
As my retirement day quickly approaches, I can tell you first hand that I am as anxious as I am excited. I am walking away from a well-paying job with excellent benefits, job security, and the freedom to virtually come and go as I please. No one micro manages me, the work environment is pleasant, and for the most part, the majority of my colleagues are quality people. Best of all, my performance is not based on how many hours I work, but instead it’s based on productivity. I have the luxury to work from home, and as long as the numbers are there at the end of every month, I can show up for work, or not. Nobody cares.
When I walk away from this job, I’m walking away from a predictable income. I haven’t a clue how much I will earn as a writer. My novel could sell 10 copies or 10 million. Only time will tell.
Above and beyond the obvious, there is another element to this life-changing event that blindsided me the other day. So preoccupied with whether or not I made the right decision, I never really thought about another aspect of retirement until recently. As is the case with most work environments, there are fellow workers that you would love to adopt, and others you’d like to throw off a cliff. I have enjoyed some great friendships in the workplace. There are a handful of colleagues that I consider dear friends. In fact, some are like family.
Although I promised myself that I will make every effort to keep in touch with my close friends, it occurred to me the other day that there are dozens of casual work associates I will never see again. The word “never” strikes me in a profound way. All the people I kid with in the break room; the folks I huddle with on Monday mornings to rehash the Sunday football games; the American Idol fans who gather around my office to compare critiques; the people I pass in the hall and exchange good mornings with—after March 31, these casual friendships will cease to exist.
It’s quite a sobering experience to close a major chapter in your life when doing so closes a chapter on certain people. No one can predict how the next chapter will be written. No matter what happens, though, the people I’ve met along the way have shaped my life and contributed to who I am. And for this, I am forever grateful.