A guy died at work yesterday.

I didn’t know him. He was a contract worker who had only been at our facility for a couple of weeks. He was on the shop floor running one of the CMM machines. I barely know a handful of machinists, and ones I’ve worked with(generally speaking) for the last 21 years, so I couldn’t even tell you what this gentleman looked like.

Apparently he was found in the main breakroom bathroom in a stall. I can only guess it was a heart attack. My friend and co-worker for the last 21-years said he thought he knew who he was as he’s out and about more than I am and that this contract worker was well past retirement age and didn’t look very good to start with.

It was a sad situation and one that got me thinking. It got me thinking about how many people still have to work well past their time to retire. This guy was old enough that he could’ve been at home watching morning news drinking coffee with a schedule that consisted of going fishing, play with grandkids, or wash the wife’s car in the garage. But no, instead he works long enough that he gets to croak in a bathroom stall of a factory filled with strangers that he’s only been temporarily employed in for a couple weeks. No contact info for him through the staffing agency, so nobody to let know that their husband, dad, brother, or grandfather was dead.

That’s that guy’s golden years right there.

Then last night my wife gets a call from one of her friends who’s a teacher at the elementary school where all of our kids went. One of the secretaries that’s been working at the school for probably over 30 years is going into surgery today to have a brain tumor removed. She’d been acting a little off the last couple weeks, forgetting conversations she’d just had and just general forgetfulness. You know, the kind of stuff that comes with getting older. Yesterday she came into work and couldn’t remember how to turn her computer on. She was taken to the hospital and found out about the brain tumor.

My wife’s friend called to tell her about it because she didn’t want her to find out about it by reading it on Facebook. This teacher also wanted to contact all the old PTO parents and let them know, ones that were close with the secretary, so they wouldn’t find out that way as well. That’s just the kind of warm-hearted person this teacher is. She’s one of the good ones.

The secretary had planned on retiring this year, but because of the situation they bumped the retirement up to now. And because of sick days she’d acquired, plus vacation time, she’ll get paid through the remainder of the year. She’s got a community of friends, family, co-workers, and a school administration looking out for her and rooting for her.

I feel like those two situations are the 50/50 split for the American worker. The days of working till retirement age and then leaving your job after 50 years with a healthy pension, 401K, and winters in a condo outside Tampa are a thing of the past. It might still be the reality for some, but those numbers are dwindling in this country. Maybe it’s closer to 60/40. Or 70/30. Seeing how many gray-haired men and women I see at retail stores greeting me at the door or stocking shelves I’d say the latter, as opposed to the former.

My dad retired after 50 years at the same company back in late 2014. His retirement has worked out well for him. His days consist of getting up around 8am, letting the dog out, making coffee, getting angry watching the news, and cleaning the vehicles. He’ll go into town with my mom, and he rides his exercise bike. After working 50 years, rarely calling in and working 12-hour shifts weeks at a time, I think he deserves to have morning conversations with the dog and arguments with CNN.

It seems the secretary at our old elementary school was headed in that direction as well. I truly hope the surgery is a success, because she deserves a happy retirement. She deserves to enjoy her golden years, especially having to deal with kids K-6th for 30 plus years. As well as a parade of administrators good and bad.

As for the guy that died at work yesterday, I hope they can find someone that knows him. Someone who will be sad that he’s gone and that might visit his grave once in a while. Or keep an urn with his remains in their home.

Hell, for all I know he’s a monster. Some guy going from job to job because he needs to keep moving or his horrendous crimes will lead authorities back to him. I guess it’s easier to imagine that this stranger I didn’t know was a creep in hiding. At least then it’s not so damn depressing. ‘VAGRANT MACHINIST DIES IN BATHROOM STALL OF LOCAL MANUFACTURING PLANT;REVEALED TO BE CANNIBAL AND SERIAL KILLER‘ has a better ring to it than ‘LONELY OLD MAN PASSES AWAY ON TOILET IN FACTORY WHEN HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN FISHING WITH HIS GRANDSON‘.

However that bell may ring, someone died with very little to no dignity yesterday. On the job at an age that should bring a little peace and quiet, not Tinnitis-ringing tones of machines wheezing and oil misting ever so lightly cancerous globules in the air as you sit in a lonely stall wondering what’s happening to you.

Here’s to the American Dream, wherever it may be.

24 thoughts on “Perspective

  1. Right. In. The. Feels. Man, you have a knack for posts like this getting me right where it lives. So much here.

    First off, and this is just me being a Canadian living within our system here, but I don’t think I could sleep at night if I lived in the US. One broken bone, worse, one serious illness and you’re in deep financial trouble, maybe even bankrupted. With two adventurous kids being kids… I just… gah. I won’t get political, I won’t. But I couldn’t deal with that.

    I’m sorry about the fellow at your work, that sucks. But I am right there with you – it happened at my old work about ten years ago. Dude was on a different shift from me, but I came in to work to some disarray and it had only been about an hour since he’d been found, out in the back storage entry, out for a smoke and keeled over. Older guy, known (so he had people, I think, unlike your guy so far). Just there and then… gone. I’d say close to retirement, not working past, but still. Stop smoking, kids!

    My Dad retired after 40 years as a grade school teacher and, later, county science coordinator and curriculum writer. As the eldest of 5, his birthday in February makes him longer-lived than any men on his side of the family in generations. Pretty sure he is also the first to be university educated. Now, his Dad (my grandpa) retired in the 80s after working in the same place since the war ended. We knew him, but he didn’t live much past 70. So my Dad is confortable and enjoying retirement, and has the blood pressure of a 40 year sold. He walks about 3 hours every day, does the right things, enjoys life, loves his family, dotes on his grandkids. Inspiration.

    This may seem oddball, but you’re into movies, so… I watched that new Disney movie, Soul, the other day. Now, I know, I know, it’s Disney for kids, but get past that and it’s actually handling big things in a good way, and it might hit right for you, right about now.

    Stay strong, Dude!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haven’t watched Soul yet, but I plan to. Big fan of Pixar films.

      And I’m with you on that fear of the US healthcare system. I have “good” health insurance but a major illness could bankrupt me still. That makes no sense. And you know all of these senior citizens and retirees are still working to afford their insurance and prescriptions. Contrary to certain political affiliations, healthcare is and should be a right, not a privilege.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Full agreement from here, man, and I live in a system that tries to be what people think it is. It ain’t perfect, but at least it generally gets it right, I think.

        e.g. I broke my foot playing old duffer mens league basketball a few years ago. A buddy drove me to the hospital, so I avoided ambulance ride, but two rounds of xrays, a cast and the doctor’s time plus whatever else. All I paid for was the crutches, and I still have those in my garage in case I ever need them again.

        A split second of (painfully) going over on my foot on a school gym floor a few years ago, doing something that was just for fun and a wee bit of exercise, and I would still be paying for it now, probably, if we didn’t have what we do.

        And that’s just me. I worry more about the kids. Man, I think about hospital costs even just around their births. Not to mention our son’s jaundice and billy light and all that in his first few days… Gah! I know you just do it, it is what it is, but gah!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s truly gross. Costs of prescription meds… like insulin, something folks NEED to survive, and they gouge so much. Reprehensible.

        Man, you oughta come be Canadian on this point alone! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Understood without question, kids come first!

        That’s a tough one. Every time I’ve visited America, I’ve met great people, seen beautiful things. We had opportunity to live there in ’05 (three job offers for my lovely wife). We opted to stay here, to raise a family near our families. But we considered it strongly. I can’t imagine it’d be a decision you’d make lightly, either way – to stay or to move. Canada is a pretty damn good place too, though, I can say after having lived here almost half a century. Whenever I travel, I always have a great time, and also always feel glad to come home. Sure it has its problems, lots of ’em, but it’s overall decent, I think. Just like your home, really. Now a move here would have some challenges, like switching to metric and learning to speak moose. But once you get an EH! in those classes, you’d be fine. 😉


      4. Speak moose, ehh? Hmm, that’s something to consider.

        Seriously though, I love being an American and I love this country. I’ve had a great life here and continue to. I’m a Midwestern, blue-collar guy who just wants to do what’s right and wants to see those in need get help. I’m just pretty disheartened with the continued support from both citizens and folks currently in office for the thing that shall remain nameless after what happened here on January 6th. That was just the last in a long line of mind-blowing things both said and done in his illustrious career as a public figure. The hypocrisy is astonishing. And I’m not a bleeding heart liberal, as they say. I’m a moderate, man. I go with common sense. I’m not a “my party or die” type of person. It’s getting really dicey in that regard here. I think I probably just need to move to a state that’s not about 80 years behind on issues. An east coast move would be possible. Connecticut, Maine, something like that. I’ll keep the Canada escape plan in the safe for now. But I will get adequate in my Moose speech, just in case.


      5. Partisan politics is the problem. Well, some people are the problem, but you know what I mean. I’m with you on all of this (especially the hypocrisy part), and I just find common sense ain’t so common anymore, even here. Our government isn’t perfect either, not by a long shot. I’m not smart enough to know how to fix it all, but I know wrong when I see/hear it, and it’s pretty much daily, in some way.

        Canada ain’t going anywhere, so if the east coast doesn’t do it, we’re an option. I know folks all go to Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver… but there are so many other awesome places near enough to those that would feel better and cost less. Bring your long undies.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. No idea. I’ve been to Kingsville, Ontario. That’s where we stayed for vacation a couple years ago. It was a nice house on the lake, but pretty rural. Probably closer to Toronto or somewhere with record shops and beer.


      7. I seem to remember your trip up here, wanting to meet up but it was some driving time I didn’t have at the time… damn geography.

        Toronto has pockets of cool. It’s also a lot of concrete and traffic, too. And expensive, mostly. But if you were out a bit, with easy-enough access, that could be great. Mind you, I’m 3 hours north of downtown Toronto and our median house price in my town is about $550k, so… that damn city makes everything around it expensive. Of course, converting your eagle bucks to moose bucks would be to your advantage!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jeez, man. That’s a late night downer (my fault, I should have read this earlier). I sometimes think about how long I’m gonna have to work and whether or not it’ll be until my ends of days. I want to shout at the news and drink coffee.

    My old man retired in August last year. He doesn’t like coffee… He’s spent his time sorting out the garden. My mother plans to retire in late March.

    Hopefully the secretary’s surgery is successful and she gets to enjoy the golden years. Hopefully the old boy at your work meant something to someone.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These kinds of things are what drives me to get some exercise in and eat better foods. Still, you never know when your number is up. My Dad died when he was 64. “Lucky” for him, he retired early at 60 so he got a few years of retirement. My grandfather was the same story. Gone at 64. Only had two years’ worth of retirement. Fun topic!

    Liked by 1 person

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