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.