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I am still getting up early in the morning, having breakfast, and driving in my car to work in the aerospace factory where I am a buyer. Our business has been affected adversely by the Wuhan coronavirus, and that has affected all the employees. We had a two-week involuntary furlough, where the entire factory was closed. We had exactly three hours’ notice on Friday that we would not be coming back to work for the next two weeks. Employees were told that they could use accrued vacation time, or take leave without pay. I had ample vacation time available so I used it.
During the furlough period, I received via FedEx letter a “voluntary separation package” that was offered to all employees over 60 years old. I definitely qualified, since I am 71 years old. The package was very generous, but we had exactly seven working days to make our decision, since our last day at work was supposed to be April 30. I had decided to accept the package, but when I returned I asked my supervisor if I could negotiate a real retirement, say at the end of summer, but was told no. Funny how things changed. About three days later, my supervisor came by my desk to tell me that she had won me an extra month, so I could train all the buyers and planners that will be taking over my duties. I thought that was very fair, so I signed and submitted my voluntary separation.
My own job has become rather uncomfortable since all the buyers are tasked with pushing out and canceling a large number of existing orders with all of our suppliers. No one gets out unscathed. Many suppliers pushed back and refused to cancel orders. Many line items get escalated to higher management. We have to do this because our customers have been doing the same-pushing out and canceling orders right and left. Our order backlog has been reduced by nearly 50%. And on May 1, the day after those who accepted the separation package were gone, the company had a rather large reduction-in-force. Our department lost a buyer and a commodity manager (both of whom were circuit-card-assembly buyers, like I am). It was a huge shock to everyone in our department, and we knew that the first thing that happened would be the allocation of those individuals’ work to all the other buyers. We were correct.
Then, things changed yet again. Last Thursday, we were notified that our Strategic Sourcing Manager had given his notice, and his last day would be the next day. Shock! This time, my supervisor, and her boss both visited me at my desk. They asked me if I was willing to delay my retirement by another three months to give them time to backfill my job or the commodity manager’s job. I didn’t have much time to think, but I said yes, I would stay for another three months. All they had to do was check with HR and make sure they could actually make the offer.
One final shock was yet to come: The next morning, my supervisor came to see me, and said that, now, I would have FOUR additional months! So now, instead of leaving at the end of May I’m good until the end of September. That should be ample time to rebuild my 401(k) which had been decimated by stock market losses and train my successors. And I will get to keep the separation package with all its nice perks.
So I, at age 71, in excellent health, will be working until the end of September, getting my temperature checked every morning on the way in, and training those who will be carrying on when I formally retire. Instead of “early” retirement, I will be able to really retire. The Wuhan coronavirus was going to see me leave before I was ready, but circumstances change, and now the Darned Virus won’t be really affecting me much. Yeah, it’s a pain to have to walk all the way to the lobby in the morning to have my temp checked, but that’s a small behavior change.
Yes, I am in a supposedly “high risk” population (old folks), but I refuse to cower at home in fear. I will continue to live my life as I see fit, not as the Royal Highness in Olympia directs. I am staying productive, going to work every day, doing my own grocery shopping, and carrying on as normally as possible.Published in