The Count

by Mark on November 23, 2009


My calendar contains a red circle – December 21.  There are 16 business days before the big date.  I never planned to count them, but the question was repeatedly asked, “How many more days?”   What do they mean by days?  You don’t count weekends, holidays, vacation days, furloughs or operational shutdowns.   Just count the number of days remaining in the office, in-meetings, on conference calls, catching up on emails, socializing with colleagues, persuading a sales partner to sell more, and rolling your eyes toward the heavens for just one assist.   There are only 16 of those days remaining.

My business days at Kodak began in July, 1977 about the time Elvis died.   My sales class included eighteen Xerox veterans, four IBM recruits, two Kodak transfers, and one ‘hick’ from Ohio.  (My county fair is actually in Hicksville, Ohio).   All of my class mates faced earlier calendar dates.

It varies, according to Google, but each year averages 251 business days.   For me that adds-up to 8,100 days at Kodak, if you count the 1,200 where they temporarily sold me to Heidelberg, before buying me back.  I thought about counting hours, but that is tough.   Do you count hours on a jet to Europe?  How about the conference call from a boathouse at Skaneateles Lake?   No, if you counted them, you need to deduct those extra half hours you enjoyed lunch with a friend or sneaking out for a bike ride on a glorious Friday afternoon.   Business days capture it all.

How many of those days were joyous?  Most!  Workplaces are great communities of friends.   Business partners enjoy laughs.    Together, we accomplished great things?  Regarding the not-so-great things, time enabled us to even laugh about them.   How many days did I fret?  Too many!  The nights before I laid someone off were hell.    Worst was a manufacturing worker sobbing in my arms after I gave him a package.   Would I trade any of them?   I am supposed to say, “No!”, but there was the time I accidentally dropped my keys down an elevator shaft in-front of my boss.   Or there was the day I was deported from Portugal for bringing the wrong passport.   Otherwise, I am okay with the other 8,098.

What business days do I remember most?   The days that included: the birth of a baby; melodies by musicians; evenings with friends; spectacular vistas; burials of loved ones; laughs-until-we-cried; forgiveness; diplomas; special meals; courage; good cries; warm hugs and always . . . coming home.  There is comfort that none of my most memorable days will change after December 21.

In 16 days I retire.   It took me several weeks, (and you might say – several paragraphs), to say   R-E-T-I-R-E out loud.  Despite my grey hair and a couple of wrinkles around my eyes and grin, I remain a young punk.  In a world of spin the code is ‘moving on to second career.’   Well, I am!  Soon after December 21, my new career as a business professor begins.   Very exciting!  A new count begins.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Penelope Pankow November 23, 2009 at 9:34 pm

What a beautiful piece you have written and so accurately captured the variety of thoughts leading up to that big day. From my vantage point I appreciate all the learning opportunities that Kodak gave me, all the incredible people that I was privileged to work with, and all of the world that I got to see. I will be thinking of you, wishing you all of the very best, thanking you for all that you have done for me, and sincerely looking forward to grabbing a weekday cup of coffee, bike ride (maybe cross country skiing at that point?) and sharing my latest (ad)venture with you, and vice versa. CONGRATULATIONS!

Gerard F. Zappia November 25, 2009 at 8:03 am

Mark, great BLOG! One of the more interesting ones I have seen. No doubt you will have a great second career.

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