May 12, 2020

I remember watching a Ben Affleck flick “The Company Men” after it was released back in 2010. The movie tracks the lives of three men in senior levels of a company who are laid off as part of a salary dump in advance of a hostile take-over. The story tracks what each person does when the rug is pulled out from under them. One commits suicide out of his depression, and Affleck’s character takes on menial work in his brother-in-law’s construction company to keep some money coming in as he has to down-size his life significantly. The movie frightened me at the time, because I was still in my early-to mid 50s and even back then wasn’t sure my place in my company was secure. Made me wonder how I would handle losing my job and having to find something new.

…well, I was one of the lucky ones. Sure, I had hoped to squeeze out my former life for another 2 1/2 years – the idea being, make it to 67 and start taking my social security on top of a pension from an even earlier work life – taken together it wasn’t going to be a bad existence, especially with Tracey still (hopefully) working.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) that didn’t happen. My enforced early retirement wasn’t what I was looking for. I’m just not the kind of guy to sleep in then hang around the house all day thinking about new ways to entertain myself. That’s something Peach the rabbit is very good at, but he doesn’t speak to me when I speak to him.

Fortunately, I’d been thinking about the kind of work I would like to do in the case I ended up losing my job. Once I got over the huge hurdle of being 62 (and with the help of our Edelman Financial advisor who has helped us immensely to get our financial house in order) I wasn’t concerned with having to hit the bricks to find another IT job – most especially one that would require me to work in a real business office full-time. I’m not closing the door to another full-time IT position, but it would have to be at least 80% remote for me to even consider it, no matter how good the money might be. One day or the occasional trip into the office for a meeting? That would be OK, but the days of working in an office five days a week are over. Like Tracey has told me, I’ve paid my dues.

Even before I lost my job I had laid out the general outlines of the kind of job I would look for when the time was right. I had no problem with it being minimum wage if it meant learning something new and exciting. And I know I didn’t want to work more than 24 hours in a week. I had always found the idea of working at a UPS Store fascinating, so that was on my list. Swimming pool stores were also on my list – the idea being, if I lived in California I would want to work in a surf shop. Since I live in Arizona, the next best thing involving water would be a marine store or a swimming pool store. I don’t know a thing about boats, so the idea of working at a marine store would be out. But I do know about swimming pools and swimming pool operations in general, so I started looking around for part-time positions at one of the major retail chains around here as well as the local joint I’ve been using for many years. And then there was Lowe’s and Total Wine and More – two other chains that I think would be fascinating to work for.

So two weeks ago the online job searches began. Found part-time positions being offered at all the places I was interested in. Submitted the applications, got my cover letter writing skills back in shape, decided to have some business cards drawn up so that after submitting an application I could stop by the actual store, introduce myself, then drop off a card. In this totally internet age the personal touch becomes all the more important. At least that’s my view.

Well, I haven’t gotten my business cards done yet, but I did get a response from one of the pool supply stores. We talked over the phone, followed up with a brief face-to-face meet, and I got the job. It’s a little more in terms of hours than I originally planned (I’ll be working around 30 per week, Sundays through Wednesdays), but the work is (at least from the sound of it) only through September. But that’s OK by me: as far as I’m concerned it’s a win-win situation: (1) I get to learn a new trade that will get me out of the house four days a week; (2) I get to learn a new trade I know little about, at least rom a retail perspective; (3) if they like me they can either choose to keep me on past September, or perhaps even pick me back up next spring when the pool season starts up all over again; (4) I get needed retail experience, which will help he if I end up not liking this, or Total Wine and More calls during the holiday season for help; (5) while I won’t be making a lot of money, I’ll be making virtually the same I would were I to take unemployment (you don’t get a lot here in Arizona).

As I said, I can afford to try this since we are in a pretty good place financially. Besides, I’m still getting severance and will be through the end of August, so it’s a perfect time to try something entirely different. If it doesn’t work out I’ll go on unemployment and anticipate taking my pension from an even earlier job life when I turn 65 in October. And, I’ll still keep in regular touch with the outplacement agency I’ve been set up with from my former company, but they know what I’m I’m looking for. If something were to drop into my hands, great – it’s not as if this pool supply gig is a “make or break” career decision.

I know I’m of the lucky ones: I got through the necessary stage of life that “The Company Men” movie so freaked me out about. I feel awful for all those who my company let go who are much younger than me, have a career to nurture and a family to feed. So I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity and give it a spin like a top, not knowing where it will ultimately lead.

Training starts today!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:04 | Comments (2)
2 Comments »
  1. Good Luck Doug! I hope you enjoy your new job. Won’t it be nice to work and sleep regular hours?

    Comment by Kim Marra — May 12, 2020 @ 6:57 am


  2. Thank you Kim! Yep, a work day that doesn’t begin until 10 AM. Retirement not so bad.

    Comment by The Great White Shank — May 13, 2020 @ 11:47 am


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