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Would a Gold Watch Help the Transition?
Old 02-18-2015, 10:46 AM   #1
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Would a Gold Watch Help the Transition?

There's been many threads here on the topic of managing the new identity of a FIRE'd person. Some members ahve expressed sentiments of being a bit unsettled, at least at first.

The article "Three Reasons to Engage in Gift Giving" is not specifically about retirement, but about how gifts mark a life transition. I found it interesting both on it's own, and mapping the idea into the life transition from working for pay, and not. Some of us try to downplay the fact that we've FIRE'd, so in that case, would that make the gold watch useless in assisting that kind of transition? Or is it useless in any case? It never occured to me that a "parting gift" would make any difference in the transition, but as expressed in this article, maybe it would. Alas, the ritual is mostly gone now anyway, but if the idea has merit, maybe we could design a replacement ritual for the transition.

Liminal (Latin for "threshold") describes the transition when something or someone is poised between two contradictory descriptors, neither fully one nor fully the other.
In America, the ritual of the gift changes your identity by forcing society to acknowledge the transformed you and literally gift you a new way of being treated.

Without the ritual of the gift, you won't have a clear social identity accepted and confirmed by members of the community, and then you get stuck. You cannot function well in your new role because that role hasn't been sanctioned in your community. However, you also can't revert to your old role. The ambiguity can be debilitating. But gift giving can end the suffering.

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Old 02-18-2015, 10:52 AM   #2
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I'll get a plaque with co-workers messages and signatures. I suspect I will file it appropriately soon after departing because I don't have my identity built into my employment. I'm finding myself chuckling at myself for ever really taking my "career" as seriously as I did.

I can see it making a difference for someone charging forward at full speed and then just getting force retired. That somewhat happened to me a decade ago but I was expecting to be RIF'd so it wasn't a surprise.

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane -- Marcus Aurelius
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Old 02-18-2015, 11:12 AM   #3
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I once got a $1,000 (no typo) briefcase as a gift from my boss after passing a series of extremely difficult professional examinations.

I quit 3 weeks later and kept the briefcase. Hartmann's never go out of style.
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Old 02-18-2015, 12:05 PM   #4
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There may be quite a few gold watches around in a few months.
... well-known Apple pundit John Gruber of Daring Fireball believes that the expensive gold model could account for the majority of Apple Watch revenue. Multiple reports claim that the Apple Watch Edition will cost over $4,000, making it one of the most expensive products the company has ever sold.
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Old 02-18-2015, 12:17 PM   #5
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A previous employer gave everyone a Rolex at their 10-year anniversary. Didn't matter whether you were a VP or worked in the mailroom. They'd offer a certain number of styles and if you wanted anything fancier you could pay to upgrade to get, say, diamonds on the dial. I lasted less than two years there. Oh, well.

I own a Rolex (30 years old, bought used about 10 years ago) and they're not cheap to maintain. Every few years you have to pay a few hundred $$ to get them overhauled. I once neglected this part and wore it too many times in chlorinated water; the rubber seals weakened and the guts of the watch had to be replaced.

Which is my long way of saying: gold watches aren't for everybody. I didn't need any parting gift: being able to turn off my 6:30 AM weekday alarm was enough.
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Old 02-18-2015, 12:20 PM   #6
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If someone ever gave me anything like that, I would turn around and sell it!
Well, I thought I was retired. But it seems that now I'm working as a travel agent instead!
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Old 02-18-2015, 12:23 PM   #7
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It's not the expense of the gold watch that matters, it's the significance and acknowledgement of a career well done. Had it been customary to get one upon retirement at my place of employment, I would have felt so honored to get one. I know, it's corny and old-fashioned to feel that way (but I would).
Already we are boldly launched upon the deep; but soon we shall be lost in its unshored, harbourless immensities.

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Old 02-18-2015, 12:36 PM   #8
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Don't even wear a watch...

Did get a nice Weber SS grill for 25 years of imprisonment. Much more useful than a watch!
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Old 02-18-2015, 01:00 PM   #9
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They gave the local VIP a very nice toolbox. I could go for that. Doubt I'll get it though!
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Old 02-18-2015, 01:14 PM   #10
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DW recently received a cheaply engraved block of acrylic to celebrate 10 years of a job well done.
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Old 02-18-2015, 01:28 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by FIREd View Post
DW recently received a cheaply engraved block of acrylic to celebrate 10 years of a job well done.

DW and I have collected a few of these over the years. I'd rather have had the $10 they spent on it.

My granddad got a gold watch upon retiring from a 40+ year airline career. I think when you've spent an entire career somewhere, a token of appreciation like that means more.
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Old 02-18-2015, 01:33 PM   #12
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At a previous megacorp, my 5 yr service gift was a Twist-O-Flex watchband with the company crest embossed on it.

At 10 yrs I was given a company gift catalog and told to pick something from a particular price range. I picked a set of steak knives (no kidding).

I removed the award plaque from the butcher block holder and bonded it to a restroom stall - it remained there for a year or more. I could have selected logo'd underware or a logo'd fire extinguisher. (I have a jocular outlook on life).

When I left after 13 yrs I left all of the service trash behind, the desk awards, wall plaques and photos, etc.

My current employer will give me nothing when I leave, no luncheon, etc. It's an "Office Space" wasteland.

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Old 02-18-2015, 01:52 PM   #13
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At work there's a tradition of giving people who leave a circuit board that team members sign. I would like to receive something like that, and I'd keep it.
Getting some item you can just buy on Amazon wouldn't have any more value than its cash equivalent to me.
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Old 02-18-2015, 02:02 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by FIREd View Post
DW recently received a cheaply engraved block of acrylic to celebrate 10 years of a job well done.

Yeah, I got one of those also. I am 4 months into ER, and this week I tossed all of the corporate trash that they tried to pass off as "special" recognition.

Megacorp was good to me, I was good to them, but any semblance of a real relationship on either's part other than the cash I generated for them and the money they paid me is simply an illusion. Realizing this makes my current independence soooo much sweeter.
Prepare today for the demands of tomorrow. Plan your move.
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Old 02-18-2015, 02:10 PM   #15
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Last city I worked for gave us a certificate EVERY FIVE YEARS! Printed on nice paper. Usually were a year late too.
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Old 02-18-2015, 02:22 PM   #16
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I was lucky with the "anniversary" freebies. I was always given catalogues. I've got a lovely set of bookends from 5 years at the Prudential that are right in front of me now, holding up books. I have a gold (no logo) ring from 10 years. At a subsequent employer I got a stainless steel ring with a diamond at 5 years and a peridot ring at 10 years. I still wear them all. The second employer also gave me charms with the company logo at 5 years (1 diamond) and 10 years (2 diamonds) but had "downgraded" from 10K gold to 10K gold plated at 10 years. They're both on my charm bracelet anyway. More importantly, I'm getting small pensions (total $20K/year, no COL) from both!)

I don't have much swag left from the employer from which I retired; many good people but a few created toxic politics that led me to resign. I'm planning to donate my one company T-shirt and hope it ends up on security camera footage during a bank robbery.
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Old 02-18-2015, 02:32 PM   #17
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We received 5 shares of company stock for every 5 years of service. You received an actual stock cert. Plus a stupid gift engraved acrylic or crystal gift.

The two worst ever:
My 5 year stock grant was for Pink Sheet shares, the cheap acrylic thing that looked like a "wheel chock" had a miniature stock cert imbedded in it. The real certs were called back, before a decent IPO. Didn't replace the wheel chock.

The one I was the most embarrassed over was a gift from a few of us who really cared for a great co-w*rker. Somehow we chose a piece of granite, as it was stong like she was. An engraving that expressed our mutual appreciation for her being a mentor to us. We received it only a few days before the gifting, damn thing looked like an expensive tombstone for a beloved pet!
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Old 02-18-2015, 02:44 PM   #18
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Christmases were big for us. If we had a good year, everyone (700+ people) might get a TV or a laptop (back when they were expensive) or "take your spouse to an expensive restaurant and send me the bill"...something like that.
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Old 02-18-2015, 02:58 PM   #19
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After 30 years with mega corp. Today he picked himself a bike out of a catalog book.
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Old 02-18-2015, 03:47 PM   #20
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I got nothing from Megacorp the institution when I RE'd, but I was surprised and touched that my then-current and former coworkers collected money for a donation to the charity where I serve on the board. Very nice.

"One of the funny things about the stock market is that every time one person buys, another sells, and both think they are astute." William Feather
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