Gene is retired now.  Put in his 33 years at the factory, took his pension and told them good-bye.  They don’t give out gold watches any more.

He said he went home and cried.

No more coffee with his buddies, they still work.

No more questions from the youngsters.  They will find another mentor.   Someone else will teach them now.

No more talk about what the company is going to do next year or what the company did that screwed things up last  year.  All that’s in the past now.  He hopes his retirement lasts and the stock market doesn’t crash.

He doesn’t know what to do.

That’s what he told me last week.

I had to agree with every word he said.  Heck, that’s why I’m writing about it.

Gene and I are at the age where our friends are either retiring or dying.  Some of those who retire are moving somewhere.  That’s almost like them dying.  Had one that moved clear to Maine.  Have another moving to Florida by the end of the month.  One’s headed to the outskirts of Dallas.  Another is headed back to the family farm.  Me, I’m polishing the keys on this keyboard.

Gene sat home for a month, then built himself a tree house in his back yard.  Yep, a tree house.

Sixty-three year old man with too much time on his hands.   It’s six feet high,  There’s a roof, and handrails.  It was supposed to be for the grandchildren.  He built a set of steps instead of a ladder.  It’s easier for him, he says.

He uses it every day.

He climbs up his stairs, sits in his tree house and drinks his coffee.  Now, he’s looking at life, pondering his next move.

He thinks he might add a wing on the southern side, big enough for another chair.

We talked some more, maybe an hour.  He’s got the time.  He thinks he may open a business.  A convenience store, or maybe do some electrical work.  Something to keep him busy.  He always wanted to be an electrician. That was yesterday.

The factory got in his way and he gave them  33 years.   He needed a job.  The factory hired him.

All he got out of a life of putting little plastic gizmos on bigger plastic gizmos was a glass plaque.  His name is on it.  There’s that  sentence saying thank you for giving up thirty-three years.

It’s already collecting dust on his mantle.

I remind him he’s got his pension.

He says it’s only going to last him to age 91 and a half, then it runs out of money.  The graph goes from green to red.  Dead broke.  Out of money.

I’m thinking.  I only wish.  Reaching ninety is good.  My people don’t last that long.   I think about all the people I’ve known who missed their first social security check.

Good Luck, Gene.

Please feel free to share.  I welcome your comments and thoughts.  Contact Mike Windham at  You can follow my blog at

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