Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Have Enough

Lest you think I have abandoned you, oh faithful readers—both of you, let me apologize for my lack attention, and explain my absence. My place of employment has delivered one crisis job after another for the past week requiring in their mind my presence 24 – 7 (although even they recognize the impossibility of that) and in my mind the usual 8-5. I have been through one too many crises with my beloved employer and the notion of the fate of the planet hinges on my presence yet again has worn thin. This collision of expectation between my employer and I has resulted in a unhappy 12 to 16 -7 arrangement that has left me exhausted, and well, somewhat pissed off. Pissed off enough that suddenly the notion of retirement, which has, until the very recent past, remained some murky facet of the future that I would prefer not to think about, has moved from the shadows of my conscious to center stage. It is, as they say, time to check the numbers.

Retirement. Ah those lovely years of endless free time and no responsibility. My wife and I can travel, spend hours partaking in the hobbies we never had time for, learn to play the piano…enjoy life to it fullest without the damned alarm clock going off at 5:50 AM. Quite frankly, retirement scares the hell out of me. What I see is ever increasing decrepitude, ever increasing prices, and ever increasing expenses on a fixed income leading to an ever increasing level of poverty. I don’t really care for the notion of my wife and I running a foot race with our meager assets. Can we make it to the grave before they run out? It is time to buck up, stiff upper lip, fight the good fight, and not belabor my mind with silly notions of retirement.

Looking into the crystal ball of what lies in the near future of my employment, a series of business trips lasting for months…and when I am home a delayed project finally going into production which will be just one crisis after another. For the next two to four years, I see pretty much an endless diet of 12 + hour days seven days a week, much of it spent away from home, and all of it conducted with “the sky is falling” attitude from management. That is probably a pessimistic exaggeration on my part, although not the travel, that it is real. The pessimistic exaggeration is the endless part, surely it can’t be endless. Yet that is what I see and I am seriously asking myself, is this how I want to spend the next few years of my life?

Part of me is ashamed. When I drive into a Wendy’s at 7 PM and see the same gal at the drive thru who rang up my groceries 9 AM that morning—a gal whose haggard look leads me to believe that she is probably 5 to 10 years older than me, my unhappiness seems absurd. When I read of the unemployment, of the people who have lost their homes, of the ever increasing numbers of people living in poverty, I feel a sense of shame. I have been blessed with a decent job, why do I want to part with it so badly?

Shame not withstanding, I feel the finite quality of my remaining years starting to close in on me. If I follow my father’s foot steps, I have four years left. Do I want to spend them working? I am getting tired of the rat race, tired of the problems, tired of the dithery-dithery the sky is falling--when are you going to have this done questions and telephone calls from management. Tired of being told this is the number one priority…this is the critical path…this is a billing…. Tired of being told this is the hottest job on site, but oh by the way your people have to go to some inane training for the first two hours of the shift…but we still need to get this done.

The question “Will I have enough?” is always one of the great philosophical questions regarding retirement. One of the great philosophers on the factory floor told me several years ago on the eve of his retirement…”When you have had enough, you will have enough.”

It is time to go check the numbers. What I hope for, and sincerely doubt, is that the numbers will show that I am a damned fool to continue working. A second possibility is that the numbers will show that I am a damned fool to think I can retire. Most likely, however, the numbers will be far murkier. Why should I be entitled to clarity on this decision in my life? Most likely the numbers will show yes I can retire, but at a significant sacrifice. Then the decision will basically be…when I have had enough, I’ll have enough.

Links To My Other Retirement Posts:

You can read all of my retirement related posts at:


  1. "When you've had enough, you'll have enough." Great quote. Good luck to you.

    Now, I must have a tantrum. Men! Men say, "My father died at age 42, so I'll probably die at age 42. In fact, I know that I will die at age 42." My paternal grandfather died of typhoid fever at age 33. Why, that's like being run down by a team of horses! My father, an otherwise reasonable man, believed he, too, would die at age 33 because his father did. In fact, he hesitated marrying because he'd leave my mother a widow at such an early age. Whatever you do, leave your father's age at death out of your thinking as you crunch your figures. Why can't a man be more like a woman? Give me an answer. Why can't he?

  2. Thanks for the wishes of luck.

    Now regarding your tantrum, I guess men are not like women because they don't have menopause or at least as obvious menopause as women. I have heard many women state that they expected their menopause to behave like their mother's or grandmother's. Men, lacking such, choose death I guess.

  3. Yes, I have missed your writing. What could be more perfect than your response to my tantrum?
    Impossible to think of any.

  4. Surely there is a better response, it can't be perfect.

    Well I checked the numbers and it sort of turns out that I am a damned fool if I keep working. Yes I will have less income. After I turn 62, if I work no overtime, and I factor in withdrawals from my pay, it turns out that going to work nets me less than $4 an hour over staying home. I am not sure I believe that, but that is what I ciphered from the numbers. It also turns out that by working longer, I will lose total accrued money from my pension. Assuming I live to 80, working to 65 instead of 62 will cost me many thousands in lost pension payments. The amount that the monthly payment will increase by working longer will not cover the 3 years loss of payments. Working to 70 results in a hideous loss. Quite actually I am not sure that I believe my own calculations. I have some thinking to do, but the numbers so far suggest that I have enough. My aching back, exhaustion, and general unhappiness suggest that I have had enough. It is time to ride off into the sunset.

  5. My Dearest Baguette, shall we return to your tantrum? You disparage the forces that created you! If I owe my existence to Winston Churchill and the LST, you my dear, owe yours to your father’s unreasonable belief in his early demise. Let us presume for a moment that your father was an altogether reasonable man and had not hesitated to marry your mother. Could we not assume that the timing of their pairings would be different? How likely would it be that the particular incident that conceived you, would have occurred if your parent’s marriage was not delayed by some silly belief.

    I have read that the chance of a pregnancy resulting from a human coupling, employing no birth control, is 1 in 100. But that only states the chances that Mr. and Mrs. Old Baguette were going to create a child. The chance of the particular pairing resulting in the specific Old Baguette, you, are vanishingly small. Your mother had 440,000 ovum. One of those had half your name on it. It got loaded into your mother’s fallopian tube at not only a specific month but at a specific time. Your father flung something of the order of 100 million to a half billion sperm cells at that ovum. One of those had half your name on it.

    Without getting into too many details, a good bit of your existence depended on a certain drama of events involving fluid mechanics. So immediately after the moment of truth, the Mr. Baguette who worries about dieing at 33 softly kisses Mrs. Baguette and nuzzles her neck. He is a loving man and he shows his wife much appreciation for joys of marital bliss and is in no hurry to depart. Down in the plumbing, there is a period of tranquility and the fluid mechanics slosh about in a certain way. Some of the little guys are close to the os, and many are not. This is pure physics. Evolution, swimming, fate, astrological influences and perhaps the gods have little influence at this juncture. It is all fluid mechanics.

    On the other hand presume the same exact coupling. But with a Mr. Baguette that did not have fears of death and had got married 4 years earlier. (Forgive my interventions in your personal history.) The same loving instant after the moment of truth, Mr. Baguette starts to lovingly kiss Mrs. Baguette…

    BANG BANG BANG. “Mommy I had a bad dream.” Mr Baguette rapidly departs, and Mrs. Baguette jumps out of bed and grabs her nightey and robe. Again everything depends on fluid mechanics. The fitness of sperm and how good of swimmers they have little bearing on those who are swooshed out of the competition by a rapidly departing father. Millions of the others will suffer a similar fate by gravity. So instead of an Old Baguette, we end up with a non-fertilized ovum sadly departing on the next menses or perhaps a sibling. But no Old Baguette to entertain and edify us with her tales and tantrums. You are truly a creature of rarity.

  6. Mercy! One becomes a creature of rarity by existing. I must say I enjoyed your history of my entrance into this world, and my parents always claimed their enjoyment of the process.

    I'm glad that you seem to feel you have enough now that you really do seem to feel you've had enough. Just think. You can help your brother-in-law sort out all those species. As for the piano -- a friend, a musician, a viola player with the Chicago Symphony, had spent his youth as a child prodigy. He gave piano concerts all over Europe until he had a nervous breakdown. He was still young, but he decided he couldn't deal with the pressure, so he switched to the viola. He never got to study mathematics, and he was fascinated by everything he knew nothing about. Another man, the husband of one of my college friends, was a professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago. He'd been so busy adding up degrees that he never had a chance to study music. They met at a party, and by party's end had worked out a grand arrangement. The math professor taught the musician math, and the musician taught the math professor music. Pretty nifty. Seems to me you and your wife would have a lovely retirement. There's no such thing really, unless one is obsessed by golf. You can do everything you want to do and don't have to do anything you don't want to do. I avoid housework as much as possible. It is, in fact, amazing how much housework can be avoided.

    Again, good luck. (I tried earlier to write another comment about your photographs. The birds are great, but I love that damned tiger.
    In the second picture, it looks like a sweet kitten -- sort of. And then there's the third picture. What a maw!

  7. Thank you for the kind comments on my photos and the well wishing for my retirement. Well that is still a bit in the future, May 2011. But it does add a touch of finiteness to the crap at work.

    You seem to have a lot of attachments to the University of Chicago, do tell Old Baguette. I once stated that there is much more to you than meets the eye. So what is with the U of C? Any how, nifty indeed, teaching one and other.

    I think I would have liked your parents. First I like people who enjoy that process especially from your parents generation. It is a good process to enjoy. Second I like people who have the courage and honesty to let their daughter know that her conception was a source of joy to them. I may have to have a beer in Heaven with your parents. They sound like very cool people.

  8. Yes, my parents were incredibly cool people. As for the beer in heaven -- my mother might not be permitted to have one. She always said, "One drink is as good as a lie detector." Perhaps I shall write a post about Mother and alcohol. In short, true like stories I heard over and over. Yes, when I get back from the lake up North, that's what I'll do. As for the University of Chicago, I grew up in a building on the Midway, a part of the campus that's a leftover from the Columbian Exposition. (There's a great book about the Exposition and a serial killer. A true-life story.)