Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

August 15, 2011

Retirement

Filed under: At home,Food — Janice @ 10:26 pm

I’ve been thinking today about the changes in our world as it applies to retirement. I was emptying a big box of financial things and company newsletters that had belonged to my dad (he died almost 5 years ago and I’m finally getting around to sorting through this pile). I found a list of men in his company, organized by year and retirement dates. I don’t know that they were forced to retire when they turned 65, but I assume this was at least a list of when they would be turning 65. It was pretty amazing to see this long list with about 20 to 25 men turning 65 each year and being scheduled for retirement.

My dad and mom regularly went to retirement parties at Dad’s company (Colorado Interstate Gas, Co.). I know they didn’t go to 25 a year, but I guess they went to most of the parties for men that daddy worked with and I know that they even sometimes traveled to Colorado for these parties for men that worked in those offices.

Before I go further, you’ll notice I have said there were men’s names on this list and they went to men’s retirement parties. I know some women worked at CIG, but if they were anything other than secretaries, I never heard about them. This was a company of men and, considering that their jobs were in land surveying and pipeline construction, that makes sense. I wonder if there are women in those kinds of companies now at least in the engineering department?

These lists made me wonder about companies in our time and how often someone gets to retire. Especially get to retire after 20 or 30 or even 40 years with the company? I think Daddy had worked for them for 37 years when he retired and he retired before he was 65. I know of only one or two people in my entire company that are over 60.

On the other side of the equation, I can understand the government’s bad position with Social Security benefits and people’s long lives today. On Dad’s list, he had marked through the names of men who had died. The list seemed to be from about 1980 and included the men who had retired within the last 10 years and many of them were already dead. Even among the list of those slated to be retired in the future, lines had been drawn through plenty with notations that they had died and what killed them. Morbidly, Dad had written “heart attack” or “car wreck” or “cancer” beside many of them. Even just 30 years ago, living to retirement or much beyond was a great accomplishment. The life span average hasn’t increased, but it seems more and more that if you DO make it past 65 your chances of living past 75 are increasing.

I also noticed on the list a lot of men with the notation “fired in 1983.” I remember that terrible time. The company was making some serious cutbacks and letting a lot of men go. One especially was a family friend and I know it really bothered Daddy that the company was doing that. Though he was very grateful to get to keep his job, it was not the same after that point. There wasn’t as much work to do and he had that seem feeling of insecurity that I have had for the last 10 years. Fortunately, he did make it to an early retirement and got to enjoy a lot of travel and fun and grandsons over the next 16 years.

I don’t want to roll back the clocks to where men made up the workforce, but I wouldn’t mind having a corporate culture in our nation where employees weren’t laid off so easily and at the first sign of trouble. I would love for Social Security to be there to cushion retirement for everyone, but I also see that it can’t and changes need to be made. I really hope there is some Social Security left for me in another 15 years or so (that’s assuming I am able to keep working that long). That doesn’t sound like much time! It sure doesn’t sound like much time to put together a stock portfolio and a retirement fund.

1 Comment »

  1. The computer hasn’t let me on your blog for several days so I’m catching up on the rain, the visit with Tommie, and your dad’s retirement. 1983, or when they had all the firings, was after Coastal had bought CIG, and the oil bust hit, and there was no longer that family feeling in the company.

    Comment by Pat — August 19, 2011 @ 6:41 pm

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