Retirement Rant

January 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm 2 comments

     “Work keeps us from three great evils, boredom, vice and need.” Voltaire

So here I am on the first full day of being retired. So far the day has gone well; fed the cats, made coffee, had breakfast, checked emails and shovelled the driveway. It is now almost nine a.m. and I can settle in to relax and enlighten you on what I learned in the wicked working world.

I’ve been spoiled over the last thirty or so years of working for myself. I developed a style of business by copying things former employers did right and correcting things that could be better.  My employees were my number one asset and I hope they felt that I treated them that way. The bottom line may not have been as large as possible, but we all survived and enjoyed our jobs in a stress free environment. This philosophy of business was not book learned but rather cobbled together by experience. Secretly though, I wondered all those years what it would be like to work in a corporate, profit driven environment led by all those book learned folks. How would I stack up? What would I learn?

After getting a chance to work in the corporate sphere, I was eager to learn and share my knowledge. Show up for work, do your narrowly defined job and collect your pay with no worries to carry home at the end of the day. An independent small business person is a generalist with a very wide job definition. One had to be ready at any moment to switch hats from sales person to purchaser, janitor to business head, cashier to finance arranger. When something was out of kilter it was up to the business person to put it back in kilter. The breadth of my knowledge would be very valuablePerhaps I would be a square peg in a round hole.

Performing the narrow corporate job was a breeze. In retrospect that is precisely all the corporate employer wants. Knowledge need not apply. Unfortunately my wide perception of business saw things that were so far out of kilter that I figured someone at head office would be grateful to know about. I rattled cages up the corporate ladder until head office finally sent a fixer, not to correct the stupidity but to hammer the errant nail down. Whether anyone really cared about the mistake or not: I don’t know. The lesson: keeping your head down, eyes straight forward is right. Mentioning a glaring detriment to the business is very wrong.

I also discovered why no one dare disturb this corporate ladder of authority.  Corporate organization dictates that each layer of management needs to have their lips firmly locked to the keester of their immediate superior on the ladder. The keester locking flows uphill and the crap flows downhill, so one must keep lips firmly in place so that any crap flowing downhill will continue to the lowliest ladder rung that it will stick to.

An interesting occurence is that the corporation went to some little expense to teach us that work should be fun and that corporate structure was actually not a pyramid where proclamations and orders flow downhill to the sweaty masses but was in fact an inverted pyramid where the sweaty masses are supported by all the caring layers underneath. Of course the sweaty masses huddled in a stank meeting room saw this opiate for the ruse it was and sat blank faced while dipping their stale donuts into watery coffee. As they trudged back to their hamster wheels they knew there was only one truth in the corporate world: profit is the only thing. The rest is only public relations.

This all sounds bitter but it’s bitterness born of sadness at not being able to make a difference. My ego took a blow. My inferiority complex was reinforced. I resigned as a beaten dog, head hung low as the mistake glares on.

However, I gotta say there was good in this too. The people are always amazing and I met many. The benefit of going home after work and being able to shut work off completely was great. The busyness of business helped avoid the great evils mentioned above by Voltaire.

In all, I learned two valuable lessons over the last couple of years. First, it is good to be busy and productive; and second, as our friend Voltaire also says:

“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.”

Peace

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Send and They Will Come Clarifying the Fuzzification

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dale Long  |  January 18, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Dave, this is by no means bitter. You eloquently put into words what a lot of us feel or have felt.
    The problem is, all big business nowadays are run by corporate accountants that haven’t worked a day in the business and run it based on numbers, not faces. Numbers look great on paper but don’t always translate well.
    When faced with the consequences we do what they want us to do, become sheep.
    I’m glad to see someone else doesn’t fit into sheep’s clothing.

  • 2. Lisa Llamrei  |  January 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    I didn’t think this sounded bitter, either. Good for you for getting out and saving your sanity. This post made me glad I’ve always avoided the corporate sphere, as tempting as it may be to be able to leave work at work every night.

    Looking forward to all the new Chase you’ll be able to produce with all this free time on your hands.

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