We had a social obligation in the town where I formerly lived and worked so we left a bit early to eat supper at one of our favorite restaurants. We had eaten our salad and were waiting for the main course when in the door came the president of the company I used to work for. He asked the waitress if the table in back was ready for everyone and then I knew that this meal was to be a special one for me.
Some readers may recall that I was part owner of the company and when my boss (also an owner) retired, he left behind a void and an opportunity to fill. Various department heads, including my boss weren't getting along and as a result, they were effecting business. When asked how to fix this, I suggested that we hire someone to be over all the departments and 'force' people to work together instead of against each other. That happened and I was happy. During one of the many meetings with this new person and the president of our division, we were asked many things at how to make moral better. As the senior person in our department, I voiced what everyone in my group thought. We needed to do something about the pay raises. Yes we received extremely generous stock allotments that we can't touch without big tax penalties until we retire but our pay raises weren't keeping up with inflation. Not even close. Despite getting stellar remarks in my annual reviews, my worst pay raises in my career all coincided with the years I have worked for this company. The new guy and the president of our division all nodded and agreed and then a week later told me that we were restructuring and I didn't have a job anymore.
After getting through the shock of it, I was glad to walk out. Thanks to getting in at the right time, my stocks will fund my retirement and then some. As our company had grown and profited, the family feel to it had also changed. When I started we were all family and looked after one another. When I left, the owners who did most of the 'grunt' work were treated as commodities to shuffle around as the executive owners saw fit. Stress was everywhere and it wasn't 'fun' anymore. My wife and I had been talking about me leaving for a few years to try starting up my own business and to also look after our youngest daughter after she was born. Despite talking about it, I never could voluntarily quit the golden egg when I knew if I stayed just anther handful of years, that not only my retirement would be guaranteed but my daughter's college education and even their retirements as well. But the decision was made for me and I've been the happiest and most stress free I have been in years.
Which brings me back to the restaurant and the string of division presidents, the overall president and the board of directors who started walking in the door and right by my table where I could see them (and vice versa) coming towards me from thirty feet away. I made a point to call them each by name, shake hands and exchange pleasantries. Some probably still don't know that I don't work there anymore but I'm sure most knew. As fate would have it, I was talking with the old overall president when I first started and is now chairman of the board and another board member who had been my bosses boss when I first worked there, when the president of my division came in the door and started walking towards me. The same man who saw that I was walked out the door when I frankly told him his pay raises stank. He started a bit when he saw me talking with his 'bosses' and in a very friendly manner, turned around and walked back to the restrooms. I wasn't about to let him get off easy so when he came out of the bathroom, I made sure to hail him as he tried to walk by. He immediately got all flushed and briefly returned my pleasantries before excusing himself and walking by to his seat.
That, as they say, was PRICELESS! It was an opportunity to show that not only did his trying to stick it to me not work, but I was happy not to be working there anymore. I am out of the rat race and loving it.