Friday, February 12, 2010

Retirement day

Barring any last minute weirdness, today was my father's last day at work. He turned 61 last year and has, for nearly my entire life, worked for Canada Post as a letter carrier, mailman, postman or whatever you want to call him. He's been doing it for 38 years. I'm now 40. So there literally isn't a period in my life where I can't remember him delivering mail.

He's been threatening to do this for years and always manages to find some reason or excuse to delay it. And that's fine. Honestly, he loves his job. For one brief summer around '88 I delivered mail during a postal dispute (he actually got me the job). And during the summer, at least, I can understand the appeal. You walk around, get sunshine, get in shape, meet and chat with people and it's not a stressful job. What's not to like about it.

Except, of course, that working during the summer is one thing, working during the winter months, when the snow drifts are piled up 10 feet high or more, or delivering during a blizzard or when the sleet is coming at your horizontally is another matter altogether.

So for 38 years my dad has done this....and loved it for the most part. I'm surprised he's retiring, to be honest. After so many false starts on retirement, I figured he would keep on going for another few years. He liked the work and, let us be candid a moment, has never turned down a chance of overtime if at all possible. There's a reason for that beyond the fact he likes work. He's been telling everybody he can still change his mind right up until the last day.

So I would not be at all surprised when I talk to him this evening (or the weekend, as I imagine he's out celebrating this evening) to hear that he's changed his mind again. I'm not saying he will. I don't think he will. But I won't be surprised if I find out he has.

I am glad he's retiring because although he hasn't been complaining to me about, I think he has been finding it a bit harder to keep up with the work. He's still probably in better shape than me, but I suspect it does take a bit of a toll. As Indy said, "it's not the years, it's the miles."

I wish he had a better plan on what to do with his retirement. Cathy's dad picked up picture framing and she has uncles who have retired who all have various hobbies or have gone back to work in other fields. Even my mom, if she ever retires, I know will be kept busy doing something. Mom never stops. Ever.

Dad has some vague ideas...he's going to go on vacation with some of the family in a few months time. He's talked about picking up jogging again. Dad was actually quite the runner there for a few years, finishing in the top 25 of the Telly 10, even though he was 50 years old. And he might do this, that or the other thing. I suggested he should take up dog breeding, since he loves dogs so much, however he's not really sold on that idea.

So we'll see what happens. He might be working with Fed Ex in a year's time for something to do for all I know.

But for right now, at 61 and having spent the past 38 years delivering mail in rain, sleet and snow, well, I figure he's do a break.

Happy Retirement, Dad.

Last Five
1. Your heart is an empty room - Death Cab For Cutie*
2. The exact feeling - The Tragically Hip
3. Warning signs - Mark Bragg
4. Soldier in a box - Hot Hot Heat
5. Demon days - Gorillaz


The Perfect Storm said...

Great post.


Anonymous said...

Craig are you saying you scabbed during a strike?

towniebastard said...

Ha...I figured someone was going to ask that.

My father was president of the local Letter's Carrier Union, before they got folded into the same union as the inside workers. Being a scab was never an option.

It was (one of the many) labour disputes and the mailman opted to work to rule, which meant they were refusing overtime. Management said fine, we're going to hire scabs to do the work. The union said no way.

A compromise was reached in that the union could decide who the replacement workers could be (I know, labour negotiations...) which meant every mailman working got on the phone in a hurry to get a son, daughter, cousin, whatever, some work at the post office. In the late 80s new posties were getting about $15/hr, when the minimum wage was about $3.50.

Most only lasted a few days, but I was good enough that even after the dispute ended, they kept me around as summer relief.

It was such a good job I actually did the test to become a letter carrier. I don't think dad has ever been happier that I failed a test. Well, not so much failed as didn't get the 85% or so needed to get on the list. He wanted me to go to university and not become a letter carrier.

SRD said...

Is it just me, or is there something slightly bizarre that you could get into MUN but not pass the test to be a letter-carrier? I mean, no offense intended either personally or to mail-men in general, but......anyway, hope your dad's enjoying retirement.

towniebastard said...

Well, at that time MUN had that ridiculously low admittance average of 60%. Basically, if you graduated high school you could go to MUN.

I never did find out what my final score was on the letter carrier test, but I know of the 60-odd people who did it, only two got higher than 85% and it wasn't their first time doing the test either. However, dad only let me do it once. He was very determined to make certain I went to university.