I’ve posted a bit of late about financial issues and retirement. I’ve got a plan, and if I follow it, I should be able to retire within the next 10 years. That sounds terrific, but for the fact I have to be a lawyer for 10 more years–10 more soul-sucking, mind-numbing years.
Over the entirety of this blog’s existence, I don’t think I’ve posted once about my job. Writing here is my respite from the law. My respite from that cold, sterile world. “Why don’t you just quit?” you might ask. Take a look at the photo to the left. Yes, I will admit it–I don’t quit because of the money. The golden handcuffs.
Friday, Valentine’s Day, was a momentous day in my practice. A momentous anticlimactic day. I’ve been working on a case since 2004. Yes, the same case for 10 years. A big case in which I (and the partner with whom I work) sued many companies on behalf of our corporate client. It was a case of Goliath vs. Goliath, Goliath, and Goliath et al. Over the past 10 years, one by one, we picked off each defendant, recovering many millions of dollars for our client. On Friday, we reached a settlement with the last remaining defendant. Apparently, we had saved the biggest for last. The number consisted of 8 figures. Even more than the other 8-figure settlements we’d achieved in the case. Lots and lots of green. But I didn’t feel elated. It was a lot of money. And it rang hollow.
I was glad to begin, on Friday afternoon, clearing my desk and office of the clutter from the case that had gathered over the years.
I asked my boss, “Do you feel sad?”
He looked at me as if I was off my nut.
“I don’t get sad about things like this.”
And then he allowed himself to pause and consider my question.
“Melancholy, maybe. But I’m not sure I know what that word means.”
1. a gloomy state of mind, especially when habitual or prolonged; depression.
2. sober thoughtfulness; pensiveness
I’m guessing he had definition #2 in mind. After all, we’d spent a decade of our lives working on the case. And now it was done. But did it mean anything? Did our raking in those many millions mean anything for the good of humanity? No. It did not. We had simply moved many millions of dollars from several deep pockets to the deep pocket of our client. Granted, there were many intellectual challenges throughout, but that was the only satisfaction to be found in the entire 10-year exercise. And now we were done.
According to my calculations on the best retirement calculator, I’ve got 10 more years of the same soulless work. Assuming I play it right. If I go back to my non-frugal ways, it will be even longer. So I am very motivated to pour every spare penny into my low-cost Vanguard index funds, and look forward to the day I can smash the fucking handcuffs with a giant rock. I guess technically I won’t be able to smash the handcuffs with a rock because, being handcuffed and all, I won’t have a free hand with which to do the smashing. Instead I’ll be rubbing the chain against a hacksaw.
For the next 10 years.
A slow and arduous process, to be sure.