Final Week of Work – A Bang or Whimper?

BANG

Entering the atomic age, T.S. Elliot  remarked that the end of the world would likely come now come with “not a bang, but a whimper”.  As I enter the final week of my almost 27 year professional world, I am not sure whether to expect a bang or a whimper myself.  Will this be a boisterous, celebratory week or more of a low-key farewell?

With just five workdays to go, it strikes me that leaving your job for early retirement is kind of like having a birthday – it is a personal milestone and holiday that no one else really shares.  They may wish you well, come to your party, or even give you a gift to commemorate the occasion, but I think the true emotional significance of the event is quite solitary.  It means a lot to me & my immediate family, but it is mostly a personal accomplishment – one that changes your life forever while everyone else’s goes on largely unchanged.  

This is bigger than a birthday, of course.  Birthdays are celebrated every year, but retirement – like weddings and graduations, are a once-in-a-lifetime moments.  That said, outside of my immediate family, I don’t typically celebrate my birthday and dislike letting people know it is my birthday.  I don’t really like the faux spotlight that comes with it.  (Although my wife is planning a big cake & cocktails event for my upcoming 50th birthday in April – my golden jubilee).

You would think that I might have planned out every day this week since it is my last week on the job, but I haven’t really planned anything.  In fact, I think leaving with a whimper might be the best approach – just go quietly into the corporate good-night.  I’d like to spend my time transitioning projects to my replacement, attending a few meetings where can still add value, maybe going out to a few low-key lunches, and privately bidding adieu to others that I likely won’t see after leaving MegaCorp.  I certainly won’t be leaving with a “take this job and shove it moment” – I don’t have any grudges that need settling or reservations that must be put right.

Today, may be the biggest “bang” of the week as my gracious boss has organized a formal “going away” happy hour for me at a local bar & grill.  I was really flattered that he felt like my leaving MegaCorp deserved to be marked with any sort of occasion – let alone a happy hour with dozens of invitees – but he insisted that we’d have a “real to-do”.  Part of the awkwardness for me is that I have only been at this MegaCorp for three years and do not have official “retiree” status at the company, since I haven’t worked there long and am five years short of minimum retirement age.  (I do have retiree status at my previous MegaCorp employer where I had 24 years service)

Part of the challenge for me will be knowing what to say when they inevitably turn to me for some profound thoughts on why I am throwing a perfectly good career into the dust bin more than a decade earlier than most people do.  While most people say they are either amazed, inspired, or jealous “in a good way” that I am retiring at the tail end of my forties, I feel like the whole act of early retirement is a bit absurd.  Why should I be sincerely congratulated for such a ridiculously illogical decision?  The most profound comment I’ve come up with so far is to acknowledge that the line between amazingly brilliant and utterly idiotic is razor thin – and I’m not absolutely sure which side of the line I am standing on.

With that uncertainty, but in the best of spirits, I will savor and enjoy each day this week a great deal.  On Friday morning, April Fool’s Day, I will arrive one last time and finally turn in my MegaCorp badge and laptop.  It will be the final administrative whimper to what has been a truly banging career!

Any suggestions on ways to savor & mark the week?

33 thoughts on “Final Week of Work – A Bang or Whimper?

  1. Funny that your last day is on April 1st, April fools day. Double meaning there? I was wondering if you were having a little party as a send off. Maybe just thank co-workers or advise them. I’m sure there are some who have helped you along the way or some who are looking for answers are their own. Always good to have a great network in place and never know if paths which cross in the future. Enjoy the week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes – I picked out April Fool’s Day several years ago, feeling that it would be quite appropriate. 🙂 It has been fun to chat with people and see what questions they have and be an amateur retirement advisor.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you don’t see any need to make any critical speeches about your boss or your company. I attended one event years ago where the happy retiree spent 10 minutes giving a character assassination of our head of department. The HOD certainly had his flaws but the whole event was excruciating – it achieved nothing positive and just left a nasty atmosphere and spoiled memories of a good colleague. When I retired 2 years ago I wanted to make it light and casual. So my opening remarks were “People of Earth, my work is done!” Nobody laughed. Bad idea. Just aim to get out without offending anyone, then start enjoying the rest of your life. I have never regretted for a moment my decision to retire. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow – that sounds like quite a way for your old boss to go out. I went to one that the retiree also ‘unloaded’ on the company. I thought it pretty funny, but other’s didn’t. I think your approach was MUCH better!

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  3. Like the above commenter, do you think that perhaps some of your colleagues will think it’s an April Fools gag and that in fact, you aren’t leaving at all!? Keeping things light-hearted is the way to go I think.

    Hope you enjoy your last week – taking photos (if that’s allowed and people want to be in them) might be an idea. You can always delete them afterwards!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It WOULD be a funny April Fool’s Day prank, but other than a few comments, no one thinks so. My replacement has already arrived as well, so I guess I’m done. I am taking a lot of pictures this week – good idea!

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  4. If I were able to give you a parting gift, I’d find a nice gift bag at Target, fill it with some General Mills cereal, and secure it well with Scotch tape.

    I’ve never had a last day of career, but I have had a few last days at different hospitals over the years. I like the low key exit, or “Irish Goodbye” approach. You’re right, your life is changing drastically, but the rest of ’em will be back to work Monday morning. Have a nice dinner out with your family, perhaps at your son’s favorite spot, and start living your life as a free man!

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    • “Irish Goodbye” – I like that phrase! Funny you mention Target – that was the one other company I also worked at (first job in high school). I like your idea of a nice dinner out – I hadn’t arranged anything, but now invited my parents to join my son & I on Friday night. Thanks!

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      • I was doing my best to include products from places you might have worked (my best guesses). A nice dinner with 3 generations sounds like a great way to start the next chapter. This week must be surreal for you. Enjoy it!

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  5. The only advice I can give is to make sure you’ve gathered all the contact information you might need once you’ve retired. Once you lose access to your business Outlook (or whatever program they use) information, it can be hard to recreate. Over the two years that I’ve been retire, there have been several people I wanted to contact and having that info made it a lot easier. Enjoy your week!

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  6. I have no idea what this feels like. But I’m sure it’s very conflicting. Have fun at your big party today. That will feel great even if the conversations are awkward! Congrats again, man!

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  7. Enjoy the moment buddy. You’ve earned it. I agree about gathering the contact information though. It will be a little weird having total control of your life after so many years of having other people have so much influence over it.

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  8. I thought the “not with a bang but a whimper” was originally a T.S. Eliot quote. Sorry, the English teacher nerd is me is revealing herself! Either way, I love the quote & how you’ve used it. It seems most big life events come upon us with a sense of surrealism, and it’s hard to know how to appreciate or mark them appropriately. That’s nice your boss if throwing a little shindig for you! I’d probably check out a huge stack of books from the library to line up my FIRE reading as a celebratory gesture, but there’s the English nerd again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are CORRECT – I have updated the post with the proper attribution! I do have a lot of reading planned in the next six months. I typically don’t read a lot of fiction books (mostly business books), so I’m looking forward to sitting down with the big stack of fiction I haven’t gotten to over the last few years.

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  9. Your description of early retirement being a very private, personal event really resonates with me. I even think Mr. ONL and I will process our departures very differently when the time comes. I think a happy hour is nice, and hope you enjoy it. It’s just a time to get together with folks one last time, even if you don’t like the spotlight. You’ve had a solid career, and deserve to mark it in some way, even if you haven’t been with your current MegaCorp the whole time.

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  10. congrats Eric! if you want any affirmation of your early retirement decision..there is a great book called “How to retire Wild, Happy and Free.” I think it aligns quite well with your message. Best Wishes for a happy FINAL week!!!!! Woo HOO

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    • Yes – I have that book, Maggie! It’s on my nightstand right now (along with it’s companion “The Joy of Not Working”. The author of both books, Ernie Zelinski, even came by MrFireStation.com a few times and left some nice comments. I was amazed!

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  11. “Fool, what have you done,” won’t last for long. It might take just a little while, while you adjust to the feeling of “what do I do next?” We had some sleepless nights as we tried to figure it out. My first suggestion is to enjoy a few weeks of “puttering” – doing all those little things you put off because you never had time! Sleep in…read…go out for coffee or lunch…enjoy!

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  12. Pingback: FIRE Milestone – The Glorious Farewell Party | Mr.FireStation

  13. There is almost never a reason to go out with a mean bang. I’m glad you chose the whimper. This day was important in your life, and just another day for your colleagues. Hearing people belittled is awkward for everyone (even if deserved). Talk Less, Smile More (I like the villain’s lines in Hamilton a lot)

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    • Yes that is a good approach – “Talk less, smile more”. Similarly, I always tell my wife to “Be Australia” – in the board game Risk, Australia is a nice out of the way geography where you can quietly gain strength while out of the way of everyone else’s fighting.

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