Yes I did. I turned in my formal resignation for early retirement last week Wednesday.
It was an epic day almost from the dawn’s first light. A magical snowstorm came through our state, leaving ten inches of crystal white snow over the landscape. We greeted the day as a family with buckwheat flapjacks, real maple syrup and a one hour “late start” to work and school. It was nice to be able to sleep in a little bit, have a relaxing start to the day, and watch fluffy snowflakes float by the windows of our house.
Unfortunately, the bosses’ office was dark when I got in at about 9:15am. That was a big uh-oh, as he went home under the weather the day before and was getting ready to head out of town for 2+ weeks. The plan was to sit down at the very end of the day, but he sent an email that he was still feeling cruddy and would only be in the office for a little while. I was caught up in meetings at this point, but he agreed to stick around to catch up on some workaday issues.
How strange to be running a morning meeting and think – I’d better get this wrapped up quickly so that I can go quit my job!
I got up to his office at noon and he explained how awful he was feeling. We chatted about some outstanding business and I said “I need to talk with you about something that’s going to come as a bit of a surprise.” As planned, I reached in my bag for the bottle of Macallan 18 scotch whisky I had brought to mark the occasion and put it on the table with two crystal tumblers. He looked at me with a smiling, but probing expression that said “WTF is going on?”
I explained that since HE had long said he was getting near his retirement, I had kept this special bottle “in my office to toast YOUR announcement when the moment arose.” But he hadn’t done that yet. “So, instead,” I said, “today I’m going to announce MY early retirement.”
He leaned back with a bit of a quizzical ‘what did I just hear?’ expression, smiled, and asked simply, but incredulously, “No shit?!” He was truly surprised – perhaps even a bit astounded at the delicious ridiculousness of someone going rogue from corporate life before they even turned 50 years old.
I probably should have paused at this point and heard more of his reaction, but instead I babbled for several minutes about how long I had planned early retirement, what I was hoping to do, and how hard I am trying to give him adequate notice (~45 days), given the added responsibility he had piled on my desk. (see “An Awkward Knot” post from December)
Then he said three things: “A. I’m very jealous.” He has been working on his own plan to escape into retirement for some time, but has not pulled the trigger yet. “B. You are a BIG leader and I felt like the added responsibility I’ve given you would really help everyone see that.” And, “C. You are going to leave a tremendous hole in the organization that won’t be easy to fill.” He was very positive, very gracious, and very definitely happy for me. It felt great – but hugely surreal at the same time.
Then we talked about what retirement would look like – for both of us. I said my overall goal was to “do as much as I can, and as little as I want.” He said that he is looking forward to the opportunity to tap into more of life’s opportunities – there are so many that don’t fit with a full-time work schedule. He said his retired friends are so busy that their calendars are harder to schedule around than his calendar is. Mostly he said he was very sincerely happy for me – “it will be the smartest thing you have ever done.”
In the end, we never opened the Macallan 18. It was only midday and he wasn’t feeling well. He also wanted to be mindful of MegaCorp office rules, which apparently do not permit drinking during office hours (who knew?). We penciled in 4/1/16 as my final day – which would give us about 3 weeks of overlap in the office between his work travel and my family spring break. April Fools Day has been my longtime plan, so I was happy with that and got a hearty handshake and smile as he headed home to rest.
As I expected, sitting in the boss’s office and resigning for early retirement felt truly like a Mad Men moment. Don Draper & Roger Sterling would have loved the vibe. For me, it capped more than a decade of diligent planning & patience.
One of my brothers texted me during the day and suggested a celebratory beer that night. I made a counteroffer of the 18 year old scotch and what followed was an epic evening to close out an epic day. My brother, wife, son and I hit the Macallan 18 with full force, drinking about $100 of that $225 bottle, along with some other, less pedigreed beverages. We simply sat around the kitchen where we had enjoyed flapjacks that morning, turned up the music, and laughed at the absurdity of it all. The picture above shows what hard-earned freedom looks like (my first published photo here, too).
The excitement & scotch combined for a very good night’s sleep – although I went to bed at 1am and had to be at work for an early meeting the next day. Despite having only five hours sleep I was ‘up & Adam’ the next morning with a hangover of only adrenaline.
There is more to tell, but that is enough for now. The viral communication of the news has been funny to watch. I will catch you up next week on the reaction of co-workers, friends & family.
Image Credit: MrFireStation.com