Special Event in my Life (323/365)

by Lee Santiva November. 19, 2019 254 views
The most special event in my life is coming up

The most special event in my life is coming up

My last working day in my life, my last day in the (any) office will be Friday the 13th of December 2019. My company offered a very generous early retirement package which will support me for several years until I receive my government pension. Ever since I took the decision and it was approved this summer, it's been very hectic and difficult to keep up with the Photoblog.

To understand the significance of retirement I feel I must share some of the details behind my over 40 years of non-stop working. I've worked hard, really hard my whole life. I cannot imagine what it will be like not to have to work.

I started working legally in 1979 when I was 15 years old at a storefront takeaway/delivery pizza place. I had been working illegally at that place for cash for about a year before that. But I actually started working for money paid by a "stranger" when I was 12. I remember my mother taking me to get a social security card and it's weird today to see my childish handwriting as a signature on the card. For two years, as I was 12-14 years old, I would babysit our neighbor's two girls from 3 to 8 p.m, every single day after school and sometimes on Saturday nights.

Because the girls got too old for a babysitter, I needed a new job and my father found me the job at the pizza place. Once I turned 16 I was able to work as a waitress at a family restaurant, which most Americans know - Howard Johnson's. Thank God there are no photos from that job: what an ugly uniform - burnt orange with a plaid bib. Already in 1980, I knew that I never ever again wanted to have a job where I would have to wear a uniform and have my name pinned to my chest.

I worked 30 hours a week during high school and college to be able to pay for my studies all by myself. During the summer breaks of college I would work 2 jobs: at some office job like at an insurance company 9-5 and then at a restaurant 6-close (midnight) and on both Saturday and Sunday.

Once I finished college, I got a job with a market research company in downtown Chicago, but it paid so poorly that I could only afford to live a dangerous neighborhood and had to work another job just to make ends meet.

Lee's first professional jobs ca. 1987-1989

Lee's first professional jobs ca. 1987-1989

In collage in #2 the photo on the left was my "day" job in market research. I would create databases and program queries to extract the data. It was a one hour commute on the L downtown in the morning then back out again in the evening. My second job was Saturday and Sunday plus three nights a week during the busy seasons. On those nights I would transfer to a bus for another 1 hour roundtrip commute to a shopping mall in the suburbs where I would sell expensive jewelry at an upscale department store. With the employee discount I could afford to buy the nice clothes I needed for my day job.

Yes, it is a can of Bud Light beer on my desk. The Christmas party of the market research company was held in its cafeteria and I went back to my terminal to check on a long-running job (IBM mainframe) to make sure it didn't crash.

The photo on the right shows me so happy to get a better paying job. Starting in 1989, after 4 years of working two jobs, I now only had to work one!!

But I had bad luck. Shortly after starting at that job, I got fired. I had been set up. There's no such thing a job-return guaranty for women on maternity leave in the USA, so they just fired me once she wanted to return to work. That was a brutal time in my life.

Working at the kitchen table with my kitty (2004)

Working at the kitchen table with my kitty (2004)

Fortunately, I got a new job at a computer software company performing localization for the German market, however, there was no way to commute so I had to move about 60 miles west of Chicago. That employer paid for me to be certified in manufacturing which was a one year associate degree program. So I was back to "working" nights and weekends, except this time it was attending classes and studying.

Then, one and half years after I started the job at the software company, the company got bought out and we were all about to be laid off.

That is the second time in my life when I took a decision: I was going to get a job that had better job security, better working conditions and better pay. I started applying to German companies in Germany and in 1992 I got the job at the company where I still am today. I sold everything and moved with two suitcases and my two cats and shipped my two-year old basically new car to Germany with the relocation allowance.

It was the best decision in my life.

View from my office window (2013)

View from my office window (2013)

I have worked there now for 27 years and have travelled the world for my job: USA, Canada, India, China, Japan and throughout Germany and have loved my job (mostly....). I also travelled the "rest of the world" on my vacations, but I won't go into that here.

Workshop in Chengdu, China (2008)

Workshop in Chengdu, China (2008)

I'm not going to go into detail about my job history for the past 27 years, let me just summarize it to say I never had to code again once I left USA. I'm a product manager and often give presentations to customers and partners as well as internally.

Explaining Cloud Software at a conference in Germany (2010)

Explaining Cloud Software at a conference in Germany (2010)

I love giving presentations and explaining things and I love talking to customers and learning about their business.

Setting up our stand with colleagues at a trade fair in Germany (2017)

Setting up our stand with colleagues at a trade fair in Germany (2017)

I will really miss that.

I guess I'm big in Japan... A customer sent me a link to his Facebook page  after I gave my presentation (2016)

I guess I'm big in Japan... A customer sent me a link to his Facebook page after I gave my presentation (2016)

I really enjoyed working with so many talented people from such different cultures all around the world. But I absolutely will not miss office politics.

With the team on the cricket pitch in India (2011)

With the team on the cricket pitch in India (2011)

It was always a lot of work due to the time zones - very often 12 hour days because I had to talk to both West Coast (Vancouver or San Francisco) and East Asia (Shanghai or Tokyo). By the way, the best time slot to get a global call together is 3 pm European time (15 CET). The Asians stay up late and the Americans have to get up early but really, there's no other constellation which works.

Outdoor seating at company cafeteria in Silicon Valley... (2015)

Outdoor seating at company cafeteria in Silicon Valley... (2015)

I admit, it probably would have been nice to work in Silicon Valley: it's a beautiful location, and it's a very exciting place to be in the software industry. I enjoyed going there on business trips. In 1998 I even had an internal job offer to transfer to California, but I turned it down because I did not want to go back to job insecurity and the extremely expensive cost-of-living which I had experienced in Chicago.

In discussion with partners in Germany (2018)

In discussion with partners in Germany (2018)

It's hard for me to let go. I would have liked to have worked a few more years at a part-time status, but the company made an early retirement offer which was too good to refuse.

But it's even harder for me to imagine having a life without having to work. I never knew it.

Starting in 25 days, I should have more time for photography and for myself.

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There are 21 comments , add yours!
Ros Mercury 6 months, 1 week ago

I might be a little older than you, but I too started working at 14 in (manufacturing) for a hole summer.  We did not have much money having immigrated in 1956 (I was 7 yrs old) - started school & was the target of funny different little girl (never heard of french or english language) so very quickly had to learn if I wanted to survive.  At 15 yrs old went to work with mom at the kitchen of the airport - first two weeks worked 76 hrs straight, that was their testing me and my endurance. I had no holidays, no statuary holidays, no weekends, had to travel by bus so had to get up at 5 a.m. and was back home not before 7 or 8 p.m.  while still going to school.  All my pays where given to my parents to help with the expenses. But at 20 yrs old was offered a job at the airport kitchen - I refused it, it was a very hard job on the body & did not like the people too much.  I finished by business college & on the 12 of june after exams 3 friends and me went looking for work in offices & big company.  Applied on a Telecommunication office, by the time I got home that same afternoon, received a call to go back next day for test, passed poorly since typewriter was not the best, next day when for medical and bang got the office job that lasted me for 38 years in different dept. and positions.  I too got a package that I could not pass and now it's 15 yrs that I'm home and enjoying my family & I have to thank the people from that company that gave me a "digital D70 Nikon as a retirement gift" camera that was my savior from then on.   Believe me it's hard to stop a very organized life to one that  you make your own rules. but in the end YOU WILL LOVE IT.  +1

6 months, 1 week ago Edited
Lynn F Medley 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Enjoyed reading this and the photos !  I believe you will Love retirement you seem to have so much energy! You will find lots to do 🙂

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Lynn F Medley 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks Lynn, I‘m glad you liked it. First, I have to get through these last weeks

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Camellia Staab 7 months, 3 weeks ago

It will take you a while to get used to being "retired" and some days you might not know what to do with yourself. But guaranteed  you will love retirement. Retirement doesn't mean retiring from the world it just means not being forced to get up wee early in the mornings to "have" to be somewhere. You set your time, you set the day, you set the activity, and life is sooooo good.. I won't congratulate you now but in 26 days we better see some photos of your celebration. smile

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Camellia Staab 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Hi Camellia, are you back from your trip? Thank you for the encouraging words. I am soooo looking forward to sleeping in! How did you know? Being retired yourself, I suppose.
I’m so busy now handing over to my successor that it is not real nor has it sunk in. 5 of us in one department are all retiring and having a small party together to celebrate

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Camellia Staab Replied to Lee Santiva 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I am back from my trip. If you are anything like me, it will take you at least 6 months for it to sink in and even then there were days when I wasn't sure. I am glad I took an early retirement and I am sure you will be glad as well, once you get into "your" routine.

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Antonio Gil 7 months, 3 weeks ago

You had a full life my friend. Now it's time to relax and do other things.

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Antonio Gil 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Absolutely 👍😀. And take photos while doing it 😜

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Detlef Schneider 7 months, 3 weeks ago

You deserve it.smile  

. . .it's going to be a great time +1  enjoy it !!!

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Detlef Schneider 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Thank you! I willsmile

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Russell Smith 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The eve of a new chapter of life :) This is a great series and thank you for sharing this part of your life .

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Russell Smith 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks for the comment and compliment, it was a struggle to decide how much to reveal to the universe, but it seems to resonate with some readers, so then it was worthwhile to share.

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Buster Bruce 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Wow Lee what a touching story. I will have to visit this presentation again to appreciate its impact. I will come back and comment again. You looked good in the 80's and you look great now! Thanks for sharing.

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Buster Bruce 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks Buster for the compliments and your feedback, I’m glad to hear it had an impact.

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Benny Law 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks for taking the time to share part of your life story with us so candidly. I enjoyed reading it. At one point, I was at the verge of tears. Not sure why. I'm sure you will enjoy your next stage in life. I'm getting close to 60 and am beginning to struggle with work (I'm a software engineer/developer for a worldwide Christian humanitarian organization) because of aging and health issues and I can't wait till I can retire without worrying about finance. I wish you all the best in your retirement!

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Benny Law 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks Benny snd that you could empathize, that’s a fantastic trait which few people have especially in the software industry. 
Getting fired was like out of a movie I had one hour to pack my things into a box and then at 10 am I was standing on Michigan Avenue having my personal nuclear meltdown, I was sobbing so hard I collapsed on a park bench.
How long will we stay how healthy? That is the question all of usin this age group are asking. If I may give some advice: if you can afford it, try to drop to part-time like 80%. That really helped me get my chronic stuff better under control. Hang in there!

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Björn Roose 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Okay, that IS a special event in one's life smile I for one am not even that much younger than you (eight years apparently), but will probably not be able to retire in a decently paid fashion (if ever) before ... 2039 (I will have an official 'carreer' of 45 years by then and will be 67). Long time to go for this product manager ...

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Björn Roose 7 months, 3 weeks ago

As a software product manager you know how quickly technology changes. I always embraced change and new technology but unfortunately there is this myth that older workers are resistant to change. Do you feel that prejudice in your company?
I really am looking forward to not having to discuss whether 5G will impact my product…😀

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Björn Roose Replied to Lee Santiva 7 months, 3 weeks ago

No such prejudice where I work. But then again, I started as a product manager only last year, alongside a girl who's some twenty years younger than I am smile And it's change management as well as product management, so I'm one of the 'older' people constantly selling technological progress to even older people and much younger people. I feel like age in these things is very much a mindset.

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Wayne Scott 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Thank you for sharing that part of your life with us. I am sure retirement will open many new opportunities for you to enjoy.

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Wayne Scott 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Thank you for taking the time to read it and comment, means a lot to me.

7 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
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