Okay, yes, this is unconscionably cliché but there really is no other song that better fits this momentous occasion. My Way is close, and suitable for some, but not this case. And by no means do the lyrics in any way reflect the emotions of this week’s kickoff song honouree, far from it. It’s just the song that everyone thinks of when a retirement is announced or celebrated.
Today is my Dad’s last day of work. He is 71 and has worked at the same company for the past 50 years. Fifty! He’s what you might call a dying breed. The lifelong employee will rarely be witnessed in future years as both employees and corporations have changed their expectations on employment and careers. Not to mention the fact that it’s really hard to build a respectable paying career as a high school dropout anymore. When immigrant doctors are slaving away at meat packing plants and university grads are driving cabs, rest assured a couple years of high school won’t get you more than minimum wage asking people if they want fries with that.
The Greatest Employee In History
My Dad understood this reality long before it became so apparent. He worked hard his whole life. Sure, it was a desk job, but he put in long hours for decades at a salaried position that offered no overtime. I clearly remember a long stretch in my childhood where he would wake me up in the morning to say goodbye before heading off to work at 7 or sometimes earlier. We lived close to where he worked so he’d zip home for a quick half hour lunch before returning to work for the afternoon. At supper he’d come home again at 6 for an hour before returning once more to work. Finally he’d wake me up to say goodnight when he had finally returned for the night. The only deviation from this routine was when I had hockey, which he never missed, plus one week of holidays in the summer.
That kind of workload seems absurd nowadays but it’s what he did because he believed it was needed to keep his middle-class job with no diploma or degree to his name. He is probably the greatest employee the world has ever seen. Certainly the greatest Home Hardware has ever known.
I admit in my youth I didn’t comprehend why he was gone so much. Now that I’ve had a career and family of my own I understand a bit better. I say this having not worked for 7 ½ years and counting, having chosen to pursue my mother’s vocation as homemaker. Hey, I’m not stupid! I saw firsthand which was easier.
Nonetheless, a remarkable era is coming to a close. The world’s greatest employee is hanging up his building access card and walking along the train tracks into the sunset. Home Hardware, you’ve been lucky to have him for so long but you’ve also treated my Dad well these last few years, so thanks for that. It’s nice to see a large company still putting loyalty and respect ahead of the bottom line.
As for you Dad, you’re crazy. I don’t know how you did it for so many years, literally decades, but I appreciate all you did to provide me with a home and a childhood I cherish, not to mention important insights on work-life balance and the value of education. You have earned this retirement far more than most and I hope you embrace it and enjoy it fully.
So, in honour of my father’s retirement, I’m kicking off the weekend with the song you absolutely knew was coming. Yup, it’s Take This Job and Shove It by the man with the perfect name for such a monster hit song. From the 1977 album of the same name (as the song, not the singer) this is Johnny Paycheck. Congrats Dad!