Well, today is my last day at work in corporate America as a full-time employee. The strangest thing happened to me as I pulled out of the enormous mega corporation parking lot. My cell phone synced to my bluetooth car stereo. As I fired up the engine and I must have left my iPhone on shuffle. I haven’t listened to G Love in years but somehow “Free at Last” snuck on. It was so appropriate for the moment.
For the last month I have only told my manager and two other very close friends about my pending departure. This last week, everyone stopped by to chat. The cat was apparently out of the bag. The conversations with all my coworkers were extremely uncomfortable. I never realized how little people plan for the future until they started commenting on my plan
It also made me realize that I need to better prepare for how i describe my FIRE situation and how I respond to people. I never knew it would be so difficult to communicate the concept of early retirement (or spending time with the kids,) especially to folks who never considered it.
My Secret Game
I’ve been tallying all the strange comments. 95% of the questions started the same.
Cube Mate: “Hey, so I heard you were leaving. You must have a sweet gig lined up. Where are you going?”
TPM: “No where, nothing lined up.”
Cube Mate: “ohh”
Cube Mate: “Well didn’t you resign.”
Then I tell them my situation and why I resigned. I tell them that it wasn’t really about the work or the company. I tell them that many reasons why I resigned, like:
- I want to spend more time with my family. My wife travels a lot and the kids are in daycare and seeing them for two hours a day when they are cranky and hungry is not fair for our family.
- We have more than enough money and we don’t need two working adults. We barely need one working adult.
- The work is not as motivating to me and working on a divestiture is not rewarding. Watching people play musical chairs for positions, constant politics and everyone throwing each other under the bus is no longer amusing.
- There are many other reasons, but I can tell from each person they want to stop hearing it from me at this point.
The next comments are what I have been tracking…
1. Why don’t you just hire a nanny.
This is a good point. Many people have hired nannies while the two parents work. We talked about this option at length when our first son was born. However, with our children being almost 4 and 16 months, I think we would have gone this route already.
I really have nothing against the nanny situation. Our stance on this one is very simple. We want to raise our child with our value’s. Not the nanny’s values.
2. They talk about themselves and why they can’t retire. Oh and over share.
- I had to sit through a 30 minute conversation about every ailment my coworker has. Diabetes, heart condition, two surgeries on her Achillies heal, irritable bowel syndrome and how she has difficulties making it to the bathroom. How she needs to move to a single story house because she can’t do steps. All of this backstory to tell me she is waiting to leave in couple years when she qualifies for medicare.
- I had another coworker tell me that she isn’t motivated either. She spends her days doing her realtor’s husband paperwork instead of her own work. Really???
- Two colleagues told me they are simply milking time and waiting for a severance.
3. What will you do for money?
I try to avoid this conversation at all costs. I say my wife works and leave it at that. If I went into how we diligently saved over the years to retire early, I know I would lose folks. Although, one person figured it out and blurted out across the table at my farewell lunch, “well, you must not have financial issues like the rest of us.”
This same person, just bought a brand new 6000 sq ft house at the age of 55 with his kids out of the house and going to college. He also financing not one but two BMW X5’s.
4. What about your skills, aren’t you scared about not staying current?
This one has me a little concerned. I know after a few months my doubts over this decision will reside, but if I ever did need to go back to the corporate world I would have a huge whole on my resume. Does anyone care about that anymore?
5. What will you do with your time?
Everything we have neglected for the last 15 years. As two working adults with kids, we spend our weekends doing chores, grocery store trips and trying to make healthy food for the week. If these tasks can get done during the week it will free up for all the fun stuff we have been neglecting. These include quality time with our immediate and extended family, friends, exercise, golf, mountain biking, hiking, travel, yard work, reading and being more frugal. This is in addition to hopefully learning how to run a decent blog (please bare with me.)
Preparation for More Commentary
I wasn’t prepared for defending myself and my decision. When you pursue a life that isn’t standard, like a early retirement (or stay at home dad) its hard to classify yourself. I know in the coming months there will be additional conversations like this. Especially when we head back to our home town to visit extended family and friends.
If anyone has guidance on what you call yourself, please let me know. I can’t say blogger yet, because this blog is barely off the ground and hasn’t made a penny yet. Have you ever just said investor? How was that taken?