Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Today I am off to Sweat City for the first time in several months. It’s my Valedictory Tour as an employee of the Great Corporate Salt Mine, for I have elected to retire effective mid-February.

“But, Elisson!” you say. “You’re not dried-up enough to retire, fercryinoutloud! There’s still some juice left in the ol’ lemon!”

True enough... and there’s a certain amount of chutzpah required to walk away from a high-paying corporate gig in the teeth of the worst bear market since the Hoover administration. But it all boiled down to a lifestyle issue.

Years ago, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I made a pact with each other: that when we reached our mid-fifties, we would no longer traipse across the length and breadth of the nation at my employer’s whim. We had seen too many of my colleagues do it, and it wasn’t pretty. Our pact was only made stronger when we moved away from Atlanta in 1986. It was the most painful leave-taking we had had to endure, even harder than our move from Houston to New Jersey had been, a mere seven years earlier. We vowed at the time that if we ever got back to Atlanta, we would not allow ourselves to be transferred away a second time.

Over the last few years, it became clear that such a transfer was in the works. It was inevitable. I had moved out of Sales and into a supply chain role, the type of assignment that invariably is located at the Sweat City headquarters of the Great Corporate Salt Mine. It was only a matter of time before senior management would bow to convention, ending my stint as one of only two remotely-located non-Sales people in the entire corporation. [And the Salt Mine is a honkin’ big corporation.]

Thus was the die cast.

It will be a bittersweet thing, this trip. I will be saying farewell to people that I have known - people I have worked with - for many years. How many years? You may well ask.

I signed my original employment contract with the Salt Mine on the day Richard Nixon resigned. That was in August, 1974.

The congratulatory e-mails have been flooding in since the official announcement was posted on the Salt Mine Intranet two weeks ago. Everyone envies the guy who can sit back and clip coupons...even if that guy might need to start enjoying Little Friskies if the economy continues to tank. And I’m pleased to know that people I worked with decades ago still remember me.

Oh, I’ll relax for a while... but there’s plenty to be done. Irons in the fire that need attending to. And they will have nothing in common with my previous career.

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