Not dead

Just…pleasantly busy. You could say that I’ve failed retirement, such as it was.

A ham radio buddy of mine called me (oddly enough, not on the radio) a couple of weeks ago and asked me if I was still considering a return to employment. I told him yes, but that I wasn’t looking very hard at this point.

Honestly, after 6 months of looking, I’d reached the conclusion that a lot of us aging propeller heads do when we find ourselves seeking employment after 50–the tech world no longer has a place for us. We’re viewed as relics of a bygone age. Besides, why hire us, and pay the salaries we command, when you can hire a kid fresh out of school who knows next to nothing but will work 80 hour weeks for comparatively nothing because they have to feed the student loan monster? Or someone a few years younger than me with a mortgage and kids in college and desperate as hell, willing to work for half of what they made in their last job because it’s that or lose everything?

Bitter? No, I’ve just had my fill of being interviewed by people I can work a circle around without working up a sweat, just to see the job go to someone half my age with 25% of my skill. The next time someone in your company complains that your IT department can’t get anything right, take a good look at all those fresh, eager, inexperienced faces. It isn’t their fault–it’s the penny-pinching bastards who made the hires that are to blame. Got to make those quarterly numbers, don’tcha know. God forbid I miss my bonus, I have country club dues to pay.

I’ve got nothing against new graduates or those who are early in their careers. I’ve employed a lot of them over the years. But I was one, once upon a time, and no matter how good your education, in the real world you are worth zero until you make the firm money. Few of them can do that reliably for the first few years of their career. Lord knows I couldn’t, although I thought I was God’s Gift To Computing. As a manager, you pull them along, teaching and coaching, making an investment in them in Year One so that they will hopefully spend Years Two and Three making at least some contribution to fixed costs. If you’re really lucky they stay for Years Four and Five and really contribute to the bottom line, after which they get poached by a company that’s smarter than yours and is willing to pay market rate or better for young talent.

OK, rant off.

So, my buddy was driving down the street and saw a sign in front of a local business advertising for a system administrator. Well, that’s about half past old-fashioned. He thought of me and gave me a call. I wasn’t worried about the job being something “well below” my last position. I’ve proven everything I feel the urge to prove to the only person I need to impress at this point in my life. Now, it’s about keeping active and making a bit of money to fund my too-expensive hobbies. Why did I have to get interested in guns?

He wasn’t able to get the phone number, so I got in the car and took a ride. Sure enough, there was the sign and it had a web site on it. Back hone, I checked it out and there was the job. So I shot them a resume. I wasn’t going to get very invested in it; I was long since over that activity.

The next day Son and I were at the Southeastern Old Threshers Reunion when my email dinged. Lo and behold, they wanted to know when I could come in for an interview? How about 2 that afternoon?

Sorry guys, it’s Son’s birthday, and I’m busy. So we go back and forth. The Independence Day holiday was almost on us, so by the time we worked out a date, it would be nearly a week. Worked for me. As I said, I wasn’t going to get too invested in this. Besides, they sounded a little overly interested, so I deemed it to my advantage to slow things down.

So the days pass, and eventually I go in and talk to them. It seems to go well. Nice people; small but interesting company. A couple of days later, the owner wants me to come back in for another talk. This was on a Saturday. At the end of it, I walked out with a job in hand.

For the record, I’m not running anyone’s IT department, and that suits me just fine. I’m not working full time, and that suits me as well. I am making more, per hour, than I made in my last job, and that definitely suits me. I’m going to be doing various sorts of tech support for various client companies of the firm–anything from “I can’t print” to “Time to upgrade the company infrastructure”.  By my standards, none of it is going to be difficult. As I put it to Mrs. Freeholder, I could sleep through most of it.

The point is that I get out of the house two or three day a week, give or take. I have some imposed structure on my time, which I have found is something I need. It’s too easy to get up in the morning and sit in front of the computer until noon, fiddling with this and that. Apparently I’m still not grown up enough to impose that on myself just yet.

The money will allow me to pursue my interests, as well as renew some charitable interests we had to cut back on when our income took the “retirement” hit. We now know a little more about what to expect when we retire for real, so we’re going to do some more things to prepare for that eventuality. We will continue to spend less and save more, probably investing a little more aggressively.

Obviously, I won’t have as much free time as I did, but I hope to manage it better. I was wasting a lot of it in “non-productive” activities, and that I need to stop. I have to learn to impose that structure I need myself, because one of these days I do intend to retire successfully.

Just not quite yet.

One thought on “Not dead

  1. Beware of mission creep. If you are not careful, you will find yourself working 80 hours or more a week when people find out that you can indeed solve their problem when no one else can. After all, it's "just one more little thing. Shouldn't take long at all."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *