I’ve been administering pension plans for over 25 years, but there are a few unforgettable gems that stand out in my memory. This one, from very early in my career, is both amusing and a very good example of how important a pension plan is to the participant.
We’ve all received calls and letters from people who believe their pensions have been miscalculated. Often, a retiree has a buddy who’s getting a larger pension. You do the research, only to find that the buddy has 10 years more service or made more money. Occasionally, it turns out that there was missing data and the person actually was short-changed and the calculation can be corrected.
In this particular instance, a participant was sure that his income from an overseas subsidiary should have been included in his U.S. pension. He wrote an angry letter, ending with this:
You can mess with my girlfriend,
You can mess with my wife,
But when you mess with my pension,
You mess with my life.
I wish I could remember the participant’s name. All these years later, I’d like to thank him for those words (maybe his wife wouldn’t be as appreciative as I am). Even though he ended up being wrong about his overseas earnings (he had another overseas plan that accounted for it), his words have been a lasting reminder about how the work I do affects someone else’s livelihood.
I may not have chosen a very glamorous career. I don’t save lives in the operating room or rescue children from burning buildings. I don’t write novels or cure diseases. But I know that the work I do is very important to someone—a lot of someones after a quarter century—that I’ll never even meet, and I hope that I’ve made a difference in their lives, even though they may not realize it.
And as long as I’m bringing a little culture to the Retirement Town Hall readers, I’ll show you how easy it is to rhapsodize about pension plans. From the limerick:
In avoiding the perils of pensions,
You must follow the legal conventions.
Before actives arrive
At the age sixty-five
You may need to warn them of suspensions.
To the haiku:
As winter frost falls
I think of my pension plan.
It is frozen too.
To the traditional:
Shall I compare thee to a pension plan?
Thou art more complex and regulated.
For of the feeble fortunes made by man,
So few are at the same time loved and hated.
Now that I’ve brought culture to the pension community, I’m sure I’ve inspired our readers to write some of their own. Either post your replies to this blog or send your pension poems here.