Today is a milestone for me—my last day on the job. I am retiring after 21 years of service at Wells Fargo and 49 years of working. I received a paycheck today and two weeks from today will be my last paycheck. That will feel weird.
My first jobs were neighborhood labor jobs of shoveling snow, cleaning out garages, pulling weeds and lawn service. Dad’s view was that if you wanted something there was a way to earn it. I became a little capitalist at the age of 13. My first job working for a company was at the Witterstaetter wholesale greenhouses in Delhi Ohio. I was paid a farm labor rate of $ 1.00 per hour. I hauled dirt, planted cuttings, and delivered flowers in a 1965 Ford Econovan.
Dad had us pay our way to college and during those years, I sold shoes, loaded newspaper bundles, worked for American Airlines as a campus sales representative, and worked at Monsanto Chemical Company for four summers.
After college I was a campus minister for Campus Crusade for Christ for a year and then was hired by IBM as a computer salesman. Later I sold mainframe computers for Digital Equipment.
I attended seminary for two years at Grand Rapids Baptist Theological Seminary and then pastored three churches over a period of 16 years.
In 1987 I had a major life-changing event, as a result of a trampoline accident, and experienced a C-4/C-5 spinal injury. Thankfully, although I am considered an incomplete quadriplegic, the Lord enabled me to regain the use of my limbs.
In 1994 I became a bi-vocational pastor and began my career with Norwest (now Wells Fargo).
I am retiring from that job after 21 years.
1. What I will miss
I will miss the availability of technology. I’ve always had the nicest laptops and the best software. Once I needed a server and was able to procure one for Cold Fusion development.
I will miss the daily interaction with co-workers and being with them at the office. I will miss the coffee breaks and the lunches.
In my earlier days of work, I was known for my creative shenanigans. Well before Dwight Schrute discovered his stapler in lime Jell-O, my mischievous team visited the cube of a vacationing coworker. He arrived back at work to find his entire cube full of discarded printouts with all of his desk accessories securely taped to his desk. Another time for a company morale day, we turned the office into an 18 hole indoor putt-putt course. Perhaps one reason for my career endurance is that they kept me on because I was a fun guy!
2. What I won’t miss
For anyone who works in Information Technology, this is well understood to “go with the territory”—being on call and long hours.
I’ve been on-call for 21 years. I cannot count the times I’ve been paged and awakened from my bed and called into work. In my earlier years, I would drive to the office. Later I was able to log in via a 2400 baud modem. For the last decade I’ve been able to VPN in with a laptop that I carry home from work.
During the BCP (Business Continuity Planning) phase of my career, we would be called upon to work very long hours. More than once, I would fly to Tempe to our BCP site, check into a hotel take a sleeping pill to sleep during the day and then, upon being awakened by the alarm, go to the data center to work from midnight to the following evening. This takes a toll on the brain and body.
I won’t miss long conference calls, project statuses and corporate finger-pointing.
While I’ve had some great travel experiences to New York City, Washington DC, San Diego, Los Angeles, Dallas, and San Diego; I will not miss corporate travel. Oh … when I was in Los Angeles, my co-worker turned in front of a bus. It was a very close call, and I was on the bus side of the car!
3. How much work has changed
I met my wife at IBM. We were both new hires. She was fresh out of Florida State University and I was a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati. We worked in a “bullpen” of open desk and two desks shared a telephone. There was word-processing but it was a room full of typists using IBM magnetic tape Selectric typewriters. My earliest programming experience was with keying code onto a 80 column punch card, submitting a job and waiting hours for the computer to return the result. We went from dumb terminals (always on) to personal computers. The earliest days of Windows were a disaster—Windows 95 seemed to freeze up and require a reboot once a day. I worked in desktop engineering for the last 9 years of my career, and in my view Windows XP was the first stable Windows release.
4. It was a mission field and not an easy one
I wasn’t excited about breaking my neck, but I regarded that trial as from the sovereign hand of a loving God and my extended hospital stay as a mission field. Likewise I have regarded the work-a-day world as a mission field.
In this mission field one must be competent, a good worker, even tempered and cognizant that there will be opportunities to share the gospel. Tragedies seem to open the most doors. One example is when the daughter of a co-worker attempted suicide. A gospel door was opened.
In the last two years I’ve found that our internal Toastmaster’s club has been an opportunity to share the Lord Jesus Christ. I received a mild rebuke from our chapter President but I used the fact that it is a club that meets during the lunch hour, and Toastmaster charter information itself, as my defense as to the appropriateness of that venue for religious speech.
5. The Chinese proverb and finances
Whenever “retirement” is considered, finances are part of the equation. My brother-in-law retired at the age of 52 because he was a multi-millionaire. I’m not—but we have saved and invested and prepared for this day. Twenty years ago we planted four six-foot willows across the back of our property. The Plymouth city engineer recommend it to us to address issues with water pooling in a low area of our yard. Those willows did not “pay back” immediately, but today on a hot day they may each drink up several hundred gallons of water a day. The Chinese proverb says “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is now.” It is applicable in many arenas of life, and when it comes to financial planning it is especially applicable. The best time to start saving for retirement is in one’s earliest years of work. We personally did not get earnest about it until about 25 years ago. I wish I had started earlier. John Piper’s Should I Invest for Retirement is a helpful and recommended read!
6. It’s “Rewirement,” not Retirement
I am indebted to John Piper’s Rethinking Retirement: Finishing Life for the Glory of Christ .
[T]here’s far more to the golden years than accumulating comforts. It’s for readers who long to finish better than they started, persevere for the right reasons (and without fear), experience true security, value what lies beyond their cravings, and live dangerously for the One who gave his life in his prime. With this brief book, Piper is sure to spur fellow baby boomers in their resolve to invest themselves in the sacrifices of love-and to grow old with godly zeal.
Retirement is a modern idea that even folk several generations ago could not imagine. My paternal Grandfather, Charles Peet, died at 55 and my maternal Grandfather, Basil Hayward, died at 58. I am just a month away from 66 and still here! My Mother, on the other hand, is 95 and still with us.
Do I have a bucket list? I have some things I would like to do. I promised my wife that we would finally go to Hawaii and we are beginning to plan that trip. I would like to visit the Canadian Maritime provinces and Yellowstone. But my ultimate desire is to use my time where I don’t have to earn a living to serve the Lord.
Rewirement means I can do other things—other than having to earn a living!
7. Three big ideas
- Big Idea # 1: I intend to join a Plymouth MN chapter of Toastmasters. This is a once a week club I believe will enable me to mix with unsaved professionals and make gospel connections.
- Big Idea # 2: I am planning on taking a college class, perhaps Spanish, at the Hennepin County Community College. HCCC is about 5 miles from my house and I can take any available class for $20 a credit hour. I hope to hang around campus a bit every day and see if there are any gospel opportunities.
- Big Idea # 3: I am offering myself to a local non-profit to work in their office 20 hours a week. This idea is still in the planning phase.
8. Decrepitude and Death await
James Baillie’s The Life and Age of Man ‘s Life, from the Cradle to the Grave (1848) appears in What Color Is Your Parachute? for Retirement, Second Edition: Planning a Prosperous, Healthy, and Happy Future (What Color Is Your Parachute? for Retirement: Planning Now for the)
What a nasty thought … if one lives long enough he will be decrepit! And a yet nastier thought—death awaits!
I am resolved to begin this retirement journey—what my wife calls “adventures with Jimmy” with the optimism and confidence of the Apostle Paul: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
An anecdote about decrepitude: My 95 year old Mother used to be a bookkeeper and sharp with numbers. In the last several years she often lets the decimal slip. She told her friends at her retirement home that she pays 14 cents for each meal. This created quite a stir and fomented resentment at her special privilege. But she really pays $ 14 for each main meal and her aged mind has a difficult time comprehending this. She also concerned a sibling when she communicated that she was going to give another sibling $ 1000. She really meant $ 100—so that decimal slip can go either direction.
We can either live with an “under the sun” mentality about the perils of old age or we can have a heavenly outlook. I hope to have the later!
9. Glory awaits
I’m not one for visions and this particular vision may have actually been morphine inspired from intensive care. But I dreamed of swimming up to a shore and Jesus was on the bank. I was still fairly immobile then, so perhaps my paralysis influenced this thought. I crawled onto the shore and clung to the feet of Jesus and thanked Him for purchasing me on the cross! This is my ultimate bucket list (I guess really more of a post-kick-the-bucket item!)—to see Him face to face.
Rewirement here I come.
Jim is a business systems consultant in desktop engineering at Wells Fargo Bank where he has worked for 20 years. He formerly served as a pastor for 16 years, and is now a member of Fourth Baptist Church where he serves in the ABF (Adult Bible Fellowship) ministry. He is also a member of Toastmasters International and The Mayflower Society.