Monday, September 19, 2011

A Short Work History

Me at work at Mellon Bank 1986 - Philadelphia, PA

As the title of my blog says "Retired in Delaware."  Actually, I'm not retired. What I am retired from is my slave labor job that I had at banks for forty-one years.  That job was to bring in money and establish a certain lifestyle for myself.  It was also to earn enough time to secure pension payments to supplement my Social Security income.  That I did by working at a total of five banks during the forty years from 1965 to 2006.  I now receive three bank pensions.  Not a whole lot of money (only bank presidents make a whole lot of money) but the three pensions together supplement my modest Social Security payments which in total keep me and Bill afloat in our home and the lifestyle (modest middle class) that we prefer.

Me at work now at the local "boutique" hotel

As regular readers of this blog know, I work part-time at a local boutique hotel.  All the "boutique" means is that they charge a LOT of money and only have a few rooms (22 rooms and 2 suites.)  I began working part-time at hotels in between one of my banking jobs because I got bored collecting unemployment insurance.  Ironically, my first job out of the Army in 1963 was working for the Pittsburgh Hilton as a night auditor.  I only worked their three months before I left Pittsburgh because I was homesick for the Philadelphia area and got a job as an accounts payable clerk at Lipsett Steel Products, a scrap metal producer in Coatesville, PA.  I had that job for 2 1/2 years until I got a job at Girard Bank in Philadelphia n 1965.

Me at work at Girard Bank 1982
I worked at Girard Bank which became Mellon Bank for the next 22 years until I was job eliminated.  I was making too much money and could be replaced by someone who made half my salary.

Me at my job as Data Entry Unit Supervisor at Fidelty Bank, Philadelphia, PA 1988

My next job was at Fidelity Bank, which was just up the street from Mellon Bank.  I worked there for seven years before I quit.  This time I wasn't job eliminated but one of the ones left behind.  I was doing three jobs and getting burned out.  I quit.  No job.  My next job was pulling weeds for a very nice businesswoman who had a small estate.  She called me her "gardener" but actually all I did was pull weeds and lay mulch.  I made $8.45 an hour. I loved doing what I was doing but I couldn't meet my bills.  I was living off of my savings.  I saw an ad in a local paper for a trust operations manager at my hometown bank.  I applied and got the job.

Me at my part-time job at First Financial Bank in Downingtown, PA 2001

I loved that job.  I ran the whole trust operations department for this small bank.  I went home for lunch.  I loved my job.  I didn't have to commute to Philadelphia nor pay the high city wage tax for my banking job.  People liked me.  That was until we got a new department head.  We got along fine for the first two weeks until one day I introduced him to Bill.  He asked "Who is Bill?"  I told him he was my "partner."  Well folks, that was the beginning of the end of my job at my local bank.  Within two weeks time I was called into his office and presented with a Written Warning for job performance.  To make a long story short, my new boss was homophobic (something I found out later quite by accident from another person he had done the same thing to when he worked at a Philadelphia bank) and started a campaign to get rid of me.  I lasted about three months until I was fired.  That was when I was unemployed and collecting unemployment insurance.

Me my job at the Hampton Inn, Lionville, PA 1998

After a few weeks of feeling like a bum collecting unemployment insurance I saw an ad in the local newspaper at the Hampton Inn for a night auditor.  I answered the ad and got the job.  The night auditor position eventually turned into a front desk job during regular hours.  Staying up from 11 pm to 7 am is rough.  Try it sometime.  5 K runners have NOTHING on me.


Me at my "day-job" at First Financial Bank - I left everyday at 4 for my job the hotel in the evening

After about a year of working at the hotel another local bank got in contact with me and wanted to know if I could work for them part time.  I said I could but I also wanted to continue working for the hotel because I liked that job.  I worked both jobs for about two years.  I was able to save a lot of money because I rarely had time off to spend money.  I would go to work at the bank from 8 am to 4 pm and then work at the hotel from 4 pm to 11 pm.  It sounds like a strenuous routine doesn't it but once you're used to it, it isn't so bad.  It's almost like running a marathon race.  You get a second wind.

Me getting my "second wind" at the Hampton Inn after working at the bank during the day


I continued that routine for 2 1/2 years, turning down the offer from the hotel to become the assistant general manager and manager several times.  I didn't want to be on call 24/7.  Eventually a new assistant manager was named and she felt threatened by me.  I had been at the hotel so long and knew so much that most of the returning guests would ask for me.  I trained all the new front desk clerks.  I was the "Go To" person at the hotel.  Betsy (her name) did not like this.  She started sabotaging me.  Life became very difficult.  It got to the point where I did not enjoy working at the hotel anymore.  I didn't need the two jobs. I quit and worked only at the bank.  I worked on a consulting basis which really only means that I paid both sides of my FICA tax.

Trust Operations Manager 2003



I continued to work at the bank until I put my house up for sale in 2006. By this time I was collecting Social Security so I quit my bank job to concentrate on selling our home in Pennsylvania and building a new one in Delaware.  Of course I ran into problems because the housing market was just beginning to nosedive in 2006.  I had to get another job to keep our heads above water until I could sell our Pennsylvania house.  I got a job at the Residence Inn by Marriott.  After only a few weeks working at the Residence Inn, I sold our house.

Me at the front desk at my "short job" at the Marriott Residence Inn 2006

We moved to Delaware.  I took about three months to unwind.  Paying an equity loan on our Pennsylvania house and mortgage payment on our new Delaware house and depleting our funds almost did me (and Bill) in.)  Other than a terminal illness, this had to be the worst time of our life.  But we survived.  After three months I was getting cabin fever.  Plus I now had a mortgage (as a result of selling our Pennsylvania house for a lot less than I had planned on selling it for) to pay.  I had to get another job.

Front Desk Manager - the Hampton Inn 1999

I made the rounds here in the Summer Capital of Washington D.C. and applied at five hotels.  The only hotel that I got an interview hired me.  Something interesting that I didn't realize until a few months ago, any job that I ever personally interviewed for I always got.  I didn't realize that until I happened to meet a man who checked in the hotel who interviewed me over the phone for a banking job over 25 years ago when I lost my Mellon job.  He didn't hire me.  I kidded him that if he had interviewed me in person he would have hired me.  Yes, I am THAT charming.  At least I make a good first impression.  What goes on later once you get to know me is another whole story that we won't go into here.

Well, I got the job where I work now.  Part-time, sort of.  I just got a call yesterday could I come in tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Well, yes I can.  I'm only supposed to work two days a week, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  However, a month rarely goes by that I'm not asked to work extra.  Either filling in for someone who is on vacation or sick.  Happens a lot.  I'm not too bad these days with working an extra day or two but this six days in a row.  I am going to be knocked out after this is over next Monday.  I'll sleep well.

Old Ron here is pushing seventy Big Ones now. I have to tell you that I'm not used to working five days in a row let alone six days in a row.  And to think that I used to work like this for over forty years.  Hard to believe.

No complaints from me though. I've often thought of retiring COMPLETELY but the thought hits me with panic.  Not that I don't have enough to do, because I do.  In fact I don't have enough hours in the day to do what I want to do.  But I have the need to "go to work" at least a few days a week.  Plus, the extra money helps.  I can do special things like buy gifts for friends and have expensive subscriptions like Ancestry.com (which just renewed at $299 per year, thank you).

Most of my friends and peers no longer work.  They are retired.  Lately I have been giving considerable though to retiring completely but then I back away.  Ever since my Mom pushed me into a job as a paper boy when I was in third grade, I've been working.  That was in 1951 and this year marks sixty years that I've worked non-stop.  I guess I'm just programmed to be a worker bee.

Perhaps the best job I ever had - Paperboy from 1951 to 1956


Note:

Although I do have a lot of pictures, I actually don't have any for the time I worked at the Pittsburgh Hilton, at the scrap steel yard, pulling weeds on an estate (you think I would have pictures of me doing that?) and the local bank (which I won't name because I was fired from there).  One of the few times I missed taking pictures.

10 comments:

  1. anne marie in philly6:07 PM

    it's disgusting that you were fired just for being yourself.

    and you NEED a job to have some time for yourself. otherwise, you and bill would drive each other crazy.

    a former co-worker of mine has retired, but he volunteers at 2 different organizations. his wife still works 3x/week. everyone needs to be busy at SOMETHING.

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  2. You got it Anne Marie, that's one of the reasons I continue to work. To give me and Bill some space. He's always home so I have to get out. Works for us!

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  3. Ron,

    You got more photos of yourself on your varied jobs than I do. I wish I had at least some pictures of the places, because some have disappeared and can't be photographed anymore. Nice piece.

    Lar

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  4. Thanks Larry. Actually I have more jobs that I don't have pictures of than I do have pictures. I didn't take one picture of my time in Pittsburgh. I just didn't think of it. Also, I have no pictures of the 2 1/2 years that I worked at Lipsett Steel Products. Again, I never gave it a thought. I wish I had taken some of those times.

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  5. Thanks Larry. Actually I have more jobs that I don't have pictures of than I do have pictures. I didn't take one picture of my time in Pittsburgh. I just didn't think of it. Also, I have no pictures of the 2 1/2 years that I worked at Lipsett Steel Products. Again, I never gave it a thought. I wish I had taken some of those times.

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  6. A pleasant trip down memory lane Ron. Not being one to like my picture taken it had me thinking about my first job filling up water buckets at my grandfathers wholesale florist in Pittsburgh.

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  7. 3rdnlong,
    So you're one of those folks who don't like their picture taken. Sometime you'll have to explain that to me. I've never understood why some people feel that way.

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  8. What a great set of photos! What a collection; precious!

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  9. Dr. Spo,

    I wish I had taken more pictures of other jobs that I had. I also cleaned office when I was a teenager and on the weekends I worked in a meat market. Yes I did, Marty Bill's Meat Market. I always smelled like raw hamburger when I got home from that job.

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  10. Anonymous8:10 AM

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is wonderful
    blog. A great read. I'll certainly be back.

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