Baffling Office Conversations 3 – Flight Risk


It’s days like this that I fear I am a flight risk.

My boss had a mild freakout yesterday when he finally realized I wasn’t joking about early retirement.

The whole thing started when a coworker, let’s say “Tom”, came by to tell the boss he needed to leave the group. Although low oil prices have led our company to take a “shelter in place” mindset (“There’s no money, so do the best you can in your current position.”), Tom has been around long enough to indeed grow stagnant. He made his intentions clear that change was imminent, with or without the support of the company.

After Tom dropped that bombshell, he stopped by to talk. We began to discuss drivers for change and what drove him in life. As engineers, we discussed optimization and how you can have anything but not everything. He eventually realized he primary goal was to grow his career so that he could retire by 50. I actually laughed out loud: “50? Why not 40? Why not 30?

It was at this point that our boss walked into my office. He wanted to wanted to tell Tom that HR had started the internal job search. For me, however, it was too late. The spark of a retirement conversation had been lit.

Maybe it was my recent vacation, but once we started on the retirement topic. I rolled out everything. I sketched out many of the choices which could lead to an accelerated, FIRE retirement. I covered day-to-day like using a two-wheeled vehicle, or not eating out at every meal, to not eating meat at every meal. I discussed maxing out retirement accounts and how our company had the special benefit of after-tax 401k (SCORE!!). I even described how someone could Mad Fientist their money into a Roth IRA and Go Curry Cracker their money out, all without paying any taxes. Then I finally went in for the kill: “So, if you do all this stuff: save, stay flexible, and trust the Safe Withdrawal Rate, the surprisingly simple math shows how I can easily retire before my next birthday.”

Normally, my boss and I like to rib on each other. He’s a geologist and I’m an engineer. I make fun of geologists playing with colored pencils while he talks about engineers who wouldn’t know decent pay rock if core fell on their foot. However, on the topic of retirement, I could tell my boss was taking me quite seriously. He kept saying things like “People can’t do that,” “You’re wrong,” and “It’s not possible.” I never really argued with him, but by the end, my boss just kind of got quiet and finally walked from the room. Tom looked really interested, so I offered to send him some links.


Core plugs? What’s that?



I didn’t think any more of it, until later on, I heard my boss heading to lunch with his own boss and some other managers. As they moved closer, I overheard one of them say, “… by 30? That’s INSANE!”

That’s when I knew he had taken me seriously, seriously enough flag up the chain of command…

This whole interchange has made me hopeful for my remaining days at work. I’m very happy to keep padding my retirement and would have no problem working past my next birthday. However, I’m even more excited to see a response from management. Several bloggers have posted how their jobs improved dramatically once employers discovered that their employees weren’t desperate. As in any relationship, maintaining a balanced employer-employee relationship seems the most healthy practice.

Anyone have any of their own experiences? Should I be excited? Should I be wary? Did I say too much? I’m curious for any insights y’all might have.


And if nothing else, a little chaos is good for the daily office routine:

Adam savage here comes chaos


Baffling Conversations: The Holiday High

Ah.. a nice summer evening with the family!
Ah.. a nice summer evening with the family!

I was really hoping not to post two “baffling conversations” consecutively, but with the recent holiday, this post really makes more sense to get out earlier. Also,now that I’ve started blogging about the ridiculousness of work around me, I’m finding the craziness and misalignment of values stands out more. Just this week, I can recall several. However, given that the workweek is five days long, I’ll just pick my favorite five:

1. a manager talking about how her kids eat breakfast in the car at 5:30 am when she drops them off at daycare. She brought this up to complain about the food that they spill.

2. an older engineer talking about a great new derivatives investment he just started using, but could not explain how it worked to his colleague in the locker room.

3. one of my better acquaintances telling me that my bike commuting made him sad – sad because of all the modern luxuries (like cars and AC) that I was wasting.

4. one of the corporate planners down the hall telling me how she had planned for this Saturday to be her off Saturday.

5. some friends posting a facebook picture with a fat stack of Benjamins (i.e. $10k), having just arrived for the weekend in Vegas. (Ok, I know this one is not an office conversation, but it’s so egregious, it makes me want to call a “flagrant” frugal foul.

So yes, there’s a ton of these to write about (and if any of the examples sound more interesting, let me know and I can post more description later). However, this week, I’m singling out office culture and…

Office Holidays

It’s summer again in “The States”, and that means long days, warm nights, and… holidays!Read More »

Baffling Office Conversations: A Motorcycle Accident

As someone who has not yet pulled the trigger on early retirement (for a number of reasons, but that’s another post), I get the benefit of going to an office everyday. An office is a weird, singular place for a number of reasons. As an adult, where else could you spend so much of your time and energy yet have so little control of said time and energy? Where else could you dedicate so much of yourself to someone like the ubiquitous “shareholder”, yet never feel like you really met the customer’s needs (or even met the customer)?

Um yeah, that time you thought was yours, yeah... I'm going to need that... yeah.
Um yeah, that time you thought was yours, yeah… I’m going to need that… yeah.

On the positive side, where can you (when managed effectively), spend so much time with a group of people (dare I say “team”) so energized that they spend a majority of waking (and some non-waking) hours devoted to singular goals? Where else can you find devoted, driven, intelligent people and spend all your time tackling some of the world’s toughest problems? Finally, how else would you meet so many diverse people, people whom you would never have met or associated with otherwise?

Amazingly, all of this, good and bad, is possible in an office.Read More »

The Side Hustle


I recently came across an article “How to Save $100k by 30“. After having a “smh” and “lol” at the paltry goal (only $100,000? dream big!), I skimmed through the suggestions. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of it covered the obvious basics of FIRE and even included some of the buzzwords of the community. As I read through, one suggestion which stuck out was “get a side hustle”.Read More »

The Secret Truth about FIRE

Take control and maybe break/fix a few things in the process.
Take control and maybe break/fix a few things in the process.

There’s a secret about FIRE. MMM has hinted at it. Living AFI has gone to great lengths to avoid it, but already has plans of falling back in the trap. The early retirement police love to whine about it. So what is it? There’s no such thing as FIRE. There’s FI, and R- hopefully you are FI by the time you R- but RE, true RE, does not exist.

Wait… What? I just threw out a bunch of letters, so for the layperson, what I’m trying to say is “There’s no such thing as early retirement.” There’s no such thing as working hard to earn a pension and transitioning to a life of golf and Florida beaches… all by the age of 30. The retirement lifestyle that your grandad lives in his 70’s does not (and should not) exist for someone in their 20’s.

Yes, there is “Financial Independence” and there is “Retirement” in the classic sense; however, Read More »

Examples to Success

Rethink your everyday.
Rethink your everyday.

This is your life. You are you. You are in control. You set the measures of success. There are no inherently wrong or right decisions, just your decisions. And once made, it’s up to you to make them right.

All this freedom and life can be exhilarating or even frightening, depending on your perspective. So what should you do with all this freedom? Well, chase your desires! Seek those activities or qualities which will make you happy!Read More »