If I were a rich man…


According to a story in the current New Yorker (actually, a single line in a story which wasn’t about money at all but I’m counting on the magazine’s reputation for fact-checking for the accuracy of the information), when I gave it all up in the late ’60s to go freelance, I was making what would be about $75,000 annually in today’s terms.

That implies that, had I stayed on my corporate career path, today I’d be lolling about on beaches around the world as I moved from residence to residence today, smoking cigars and bitching about taxes.

Either that, or dead of terminal boredom.

And therein lies the wisdom of my choosing not-so-genteel poverty.

At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

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6 Replies to “If I were a rich man…”

  1. What did you give up? Maybe it was the right thing to do. Got a call tonight from a good buddy. One of my best friends in all my life. He saved mine, once. Known him since high school. Known his wife damn near the same amount of time. Dated her a couple times BEFORE they ever got together. He is still working, hard, and saving as he always has for their “Golden years”.

    She’s gonna die. Well, we are all gonna die, but she has a calendar it looks like. Prognosis, 6-12 months. And it is going to be, according to the GF, who is a hospice nurse and knows this shit, a tough and ugly departure. I hated hearing this tonight and this is one of those phone calls you always remember getting, no matter how long you live.

    NONE of us know how long we have or when our ticket is going to be punched, as a lot of us on my old job used to put it. But, enjoying the time that you have, whether you have lots of money or not, is what makes it all worthwhile.

    I retired, as you also know, at the end of march. I may have retired too soon, as some might say, as far as having “enough” money coming in. But what is enough and there are always way to make more. But enjoying the day, each goddamn day, well, that is the most important thing. That, and making a difference now and then.

    Got a lot on my mind tonight. In many ways, I love all my friends. You, Thom, Cheryl… people you do not and likely will never know. But it hurts when I lose one or know I am going to lose one. Yet at the same time, I always know, deep in my mind, that once again, I escaped the grim reaper. But it is a reminder that my time, whenever it is, is coming.

    Enjoy your life. Each day. You, me, all of use need to remember that. It’s damn important. Make a difference if you can, too.

    Oh yeah, and one more thing. I got told this today. It’s her birthday. She likely will not see another.

  2. I bailed out of the corporate world due to their tendency to lay off long term employees merely to make Wall Street happy and increase the CEO’s stock options. I wouldn’t want to be a 40, 50 or 60 year old guy with 15, 25 or 35 years in at one company trying to find a job. That has been a risk since the early 90s.

    I also wouldn’t want to be 65 years old and find my 401K has dropped 50%. Though I’m in my 40s and have seen my IRA drop that much.

    I sometimes think of how much more I’d be making if I still worked for a Fortune 500 corporation. I really doubt the additional money would make up for the misery of having to work there. Hopefully most days you feel that way too.

    It should also be noted many poor people live near beaches. That option isn’t ruled out for anyone.

  3. Obviously it was the right thing to do, guys, and I don’t regret the decision (I regret a lot of things, but not that). That’s what I was trying to say when I referred to the “wisdom” of the choice.

    That villa in Tuscany would sure have been swell right about now though…

    Scoats, are you suggesting I should live near a beach just to fit in with my demographic? That’s profiling, man.

    Carl, sorry to hear about your friend, of course. Life sucks a lot of the time. But about that “retiring” thing? That’s what I gave up, to answer your question. And good thing too, because I can’t imagine what the hell I’d do if I didn’t have something to do. Like holidays and weekends, retirement strikes me like it would be just another annoying glitch in my schedule.

  4. Jack, thanks for the sympathy, etc. You are right. There is only one way out of this mess and we all find it sooner or later. The retirement though, as far as doing nothing, is slowly coming to a close in a way. Once the Kauai trip is done, then I am starting in on the next thing which will likely be winding down my stay in this Apt, getting rid of a few more things and then the rest into storage. Then off on more travels. Once that is over though, I think a business. Got to say, I think your suggestion of a few weeks ago is fairly close to what I am leaning towards doing. Might even steal your name suggestion too as I am a bit taken with it. It’s a tough life but as long as one doesn’t weaken, to paraphrase.

    I think you made the right decision and I think it’s a good thing for the benefit of all of us who have gotten to know you when otherwise we might not have.

  5. Retirement… It’s the goal I’m working toward at my present “real” job driving a transit bus every day. I enjoy the work most days, but those times when I get to spend a whole day in the studio again make me ache to do it as my full-time again. What keeps me from it is two kids still in school, a mortgage and wife and this strange thing called eating. I still get the twinge of anger and angst at how I was “cast out” of the Trek comics world and so too it seemed the whole industry. However, I’m now doing the kind of stuff I want to do and was even told by very successful comics art pal Phil Hester that he envied me that I could do that rather than constantly looking for the next project to keep the plates of the comics career spinning.

    As for you, Carl, losing a close acquaintance/friend, as I tell myself when I hear of High School classmates or their spouses passing- “It’s the the price of living this long.” Never thought I’d make 40, let alone 50, now going on 60… I look at my Mother who has no one left in her immediate family and is beginning a decline in health and realize I’m seeing my future (or my wife’s, as it’s likely I’ll go before her just as my father departed first). Dying is bad for those left behind, I remind myself- and is lots better for those who’ve passed as even if there’s no heaven, at least they’re not suffering here anymore. No fear of death- it’s that nasty prelim that’s a bitch.

    Condolences, Carl.

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