Retirement Gift

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As soon as Jim slid into his first-class seat, his phone rang. He smiled when he saw the call was from his granddaughter.

“Hi, sweetheart, how are you?” Jim answered.

“Great, Papa. Are you on the plane yet?”

“Yep. Just sat down. Everything okay?”

“Yep. Just wanted to remind you I’ve got a soccer game Saturday. You’ll be back by then, right?”

“Of course. You know I wouldn’t miss one of your soccer games!”

“Okay, Papa. Just checking. I love you. Have a good trip.”

“Thanks, sweetheart. Love you, too. See you Saturday.”

Jim smiled to himself as he put his phone back in his pocket. He tried to make as many of his granddaughter’s events as possible, both because he loved watching her do whatever she was doing and because he wanted her to know how important she was to him. Starting next week, he’d even be able to pick her up from school on some days and take her to her gymnastics class.

The ability to do things like that is why Jim decided this was his last project; it was time to retire. His firm had done well over the years, and the buyout he’d get from his two partners would allow him to live a very comfortable life. Of course, he had also saved well over the years and had a nice 401K balance, so he really wasn’t concerned about money. Having turned 65 earlier this year, he was now on Medicare, so his medical costs would actually go down.

He considered retiring four years ago when his wife died from cancer. He was devastated and depressed. He took off a full month of work and just moped around the house. His daughter convinced him he had to try to start living again, so he took on a small project. But as soon as he started, he realized work actually made him happy. He liked the challenges, and he really liked the people. So soon he was working more than full time again and was happy.

But now, although he still liked the work and the people, he thought it was time. It didn’t really bother him that he was older than the parents of many of his co-workers, or even that he was older than some GRANDPARENTS of some of his co-workers. But the fact that he was always the oldest person in the room made him think. And reading the Death Notices in the newspaper, and seeing so many people only a few years older than he — with some even younger — helped him decide it was time to enter the next stage of his life.

He was piling up a list of “lasts”: his last partners’ meeting, his last Quarterly Report to the staff, and his last commute on the 6:30 a.m. train into the city. And today was the beginning of his last business trip.

He enjoyed this last project — it was good to go out on a high. It had been going on for about 18 months, and they finished everything a couple of weeks ago. All that remained was a formal presentation to senior management, a “Lessons Learned” session to improve the next project, and perhaps most important, the project completion party.

Like so many projects of late, much of the team worked from home in different parts of the country, and most meetings were virtual. Like most of his recent projects, Jim went out to the client’s office for a few weeks in a row at the very beginning of the project to meet people, establish relationships, nail down scope and expectations, and build a little credibility. He used to tell people that after you’ve sat in a room with people and convinced them you know what you’re doing, it’s much easier to conduct future business virtually.

After those initial weeks, Jim visited the office every four to six weeks. Once a quarter, the entire team tried to meet in person for a few days. He always looked forward to those meetings. More specifically, he always looked forward to seeing Kelly.

Kelly was a young, smart woman who had only been with the client for four years. She went to work for them after receiving her MBA from Stanford. She was very good at what she did, but she also realized she didn’t have the most experience in the world. She gladly accepted constructive criticism and suggestions from Jim, often reaching out to him when she had a tough problem.

They also really liked each other and teased each other. Jim will never forget the first time he met Kelly in person. They had had what seemed like thousands of video calls on Microsoft Teams — both with the whole group and just the two of them — and they hit it off together right away. After three months of video calls, he finally met Kelly at the first all-team meeting in Los Angeles.

He walked into the office she was using, and said, “Hello, there!”

Kelly looked up and smiled. She got out of her chair, and just as Jim spread his arms to give her a hug, Kelly stuck out her right arm to shake his hand. She stopped cold and stared at him, before saying, “You’re going to try to give me a hug? Here? Like we’re old friends? Do you think that’s appropriate in a business relationship? Were you going to try to touch my ass, too?”

Jim felt horrible. He was always a warm, touchy-feely kind of guy, but even he realized some norms had changed. He bonus veren siteler did consider Kelly a friend, but, apparently, she didn’t feel exactly the same way. And with all the sexual harassment issues in business, he realized he should have been more sensitive.

“No. Look, I’m really sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have presumed…”

Suddenly, he was cut off by the sound of a loud laugh.

“Oh my god, Jim, you are TOO easy! Come give me a hug!”

Kelly opened her arms as she walked up to Jim and wrapped her arms around him. Tight. Jim felt such a relief.

“Shit, Kelly, you really had me scared!” he said, without breaking the hug.

“I wish you could have seen the look on your face!” she replied with a laugh. Then she reached behind her and pushed Jim’s right hand, which was around her waist, down to her ass. “Yeah, I knew you wanted to feel my ass. But two can play at this game.” Then she moved one hand down to Jim’s ass and gave a squeeze.

“If I was just ten years younger,” Jim said. “No make that twenty. Okay, if I was thirty years younger, I’d challenge your husband to a duel to win your love!”

Kelly was laughing as she broke the hug. “You’ve already got my love, Jim. Just be thankful you don’t have to put up with the rest of my shit.”

Jim smiled every time he thought back to that day. And Kelly frequently brought it up to him.

Kelly often sought Jim’s input when she had to make presentations to her management. She always had the key points, but Jim helped her order certain things and remove smaller details that senior management wouldn’t want to be bothered with.

One night she called Jim in a panic. She got a last-minute request from her boss to provide some numbers he needed for a presentation he was giving in the morning, and she wasn’t sure how to do it. She had various files with sales data, expenses, and special project costs, but they all used different codes and files. She wasn’t sure how to consolidate them into a meaningful summary.

Jim worked with her late into the night to pull everything into spreadsheets and wrote some macros to let her boss respond to questions by changing the displayed data on the fly. Kelly loved the results and thanked Jim profusely for helping her out. As usual, he responded with his standard answer after she thanked him for helping him: “Happy to help you out. Wouldn’t have done it for anyone else.” This always brought a laugh from Kelly and another “thank you.”

On the afternoon of the next day, Kelly called Jim on Teams.

“Oh my god, Jim. Jack just called, and the presentation was a HUGE hit. He called to thank me for putting it all together at the last minute. I told him I asked you for help, but you refused, so I had to do it all by myself.”

Jim laughed. “Yeah, I’d expect nothing less from you.”

“Seriously, thank you. You saved my ass.”

Jim laughed again. “Your ass can thank me next time we’re in LA.”

This brought a loud laugh from Kelly.

As soon as the plane leveled off, the flight attendant brought warm peanuts and the orange juice Jim had requested. He was glad he had all those upgrade coupons, thanks to all the international travel he used to do. And even though it was airplane food, the breakfast they served wasn’t bad.

Jim pulled out his laptop to review the Project Closeout presentation being given to a bunch of VPs. He wanted to make sure there were no superfluous slides or bullets; these guys liked to concentrate on the bottom line. He made a few final tweaks, but he thought it was good. Kelly’s boss, Jack, was doing most of the presentation, but Jim convinced him to let Kelly give part of it.

When the plane landed, Jim got his rental car and headed for the office. It was a beautiful summer day in LA, sunny and in the low 80s. He enjoyed cranking up the radio and driving with the windows open. At home on a day like this, he also would have opened the sun roof, but the damn rental cars never had them.

As he got out of the car, he pulled his ID card out of his computer bag and put it around his neck. He was hoping no one would realize he wouldn’t need it after this week; he wanted to add it to his collection of ID cards from his various clients.

He headed to Jack’s office first to say hi. Jack was always happy to see Jim, knowing he helped keep the project on schedule and was good about documenting issues. He recognized that Jim was a major reason the project was so successful.

“Hi, Jack,” Jim said as hie walked into his office.

“Hey, Jim, good to see you!” He stood up and offered his hand. They shook hands, and Jim took a seat.

“I made a few minor tweaks to the presentation,” Jim said. “I’ll email them to you as soon as I connect.”

“It looked really good, Jim. Thanks. I know you spent a lot of time getting it right. Obviously, this is an important audience. You sure Kelly can handle her part?”

“Absolutely. We’ve talked about it already, and I’m going to go over it again with her today. Is she here yet?”

“Yeah, bedava bahis she came in last night. She’s in one of the empty offices on the east side.”

As soon as Jim left Jack’s office, he headed to the east side of the building to look for Kelly. As he got closer to the end of the hall, he could hear Kelly on the phone. He found the office she was in and stood at the door. She was standing with her back to him, looking out the window as she talked. She was wearing a navy skirt and a satin red blouse. Jim was used to seeing her in jeans. He couldn’t help but notice how the skirt fell over her butt and showed off its great shape.

After a minute, Kelly hit the red button to end the call. “What an asshole,” she said, to no one in particular.

“I hope you’re not talking about me,” Jim said from the doorway.

Kelly spun around and broke into a huge smile.

“Not THIS time,” she said. She walked toward Jim as he walked toward her, and they gave each other a big hug.

“Gee,” Jim said, “you clean up nicely.”

“Thanks. Thought I should act like an adult in the office.”

Just as Jim was about to break the hug, Kelly said, “Oh, yeah.” She reached behind her and moved Jim’s hand to her butt. She held her hand over his and squeezed his hand, causing him to squeeze her butt.

“My ass wanted to thank you for the last time you saved it,” she said with a laugh.

Jim laughed, too, but he also had another reaction. Feeling Kelly’s butt through a thin skirt was very different than when she did the same move when she was wearing jeans. Jim could really feel her ass, and when she forced him to squeeze it, he started to get hard. Kelly noticed it and just smiled to herself. But she didn’t embarrass him and let him break the hug.

“Your ass is quite welcome,” he said, looking a little flustered. “Happy to do it any time.”

“Happy to save it or happy to squeeze it?” Kelly asked with a smirk.

“I’ll let you figure it out,” he replied.

Kelly sat back down in the desk chair, and Jim sat on the other side in a guest chair.

“I want you to do a dry run with me for the presentation. I made a couple of small changes on the plane, but nothing major. I just want to make sure you spend the right amount of time on each topic.”

He sent the latest version to her and Jack, and closed the door.

“Okay, pretend like this is the real thing. Start at your section, which is on slide 10.”

As she went through the presentation, Jim made a few comments. A couple of times he suggested she pause to give the audience a chance to understand the charts as she pointed out the results.

“I’ll be in the back of the room. If I think you’re going too fast, I’ll just make a subtle sign, like this,” he said. Then he jumped up and started waving both arms over his head as he kept jumping up and down. Kelly laughed.

“Subtle. Yeah, I see what you mean.”

“You know this stuff. You’ll be fine.”

Kelly was a confident woman, but she appreciated Jim’s confidence in her.

“Anyone else in town yet?” Jim asked.

“I don’t think so. Most people aren’t coming in until tomorrow.”

“Okay. You have dinner plans?”

“Well, I thought about going to a bar and seeing if I could pick up some hot guy,” she said as sarcastically as possible.

“I’m sure that would make Brad happy,” he said, referring to her husband.

“If you’re worried about him, then you’d better save me and offer to go out to dinner with me.”

“Wow, the sacrifices I make because I like your husband. Fine. I’ll catch up with you later.”

“Hey, Jim?” Kelly said before he walked out, sounding serious for the first time. Jim looked at her. “I really appreciate you telling Jack I should present to the big-wigs. And I appreciate you helping me get it right. It means a lot.”

Jim smiled. “You deserve it. You’ve done a great job on the project, and the exposure to the VPs will be good for you.” After a quick pause, he continued. “Happy to help you out. Wouldn’t have done it for anyone else.”

Kelly smiled. “Thanks. I’ll see you later.”

Jim found an open cubicle and fired up his laptop. He put the finishing touches on the presentation and sent it to Jack and Kelly. Then he finished up the document for the next day’s meeting to review Lessons Learned. The remainder of the afternoon he worked on emailing ideas and forwarding documentation to people who would be taking over some of his other projects.

Later that afternoon, he swung by Kelly’s office.

“I’m going to go check in at the hotel. I assume you’ve got a car here?”

“Yep,” she said. “I’m going to be heading out soon, too. What time do you want to meet for dinner? And where do you want to go?”

“How about 6:30? Does that work?”

“Yeah — that’s perfect,” she replied. “Do you want to go to the Italian place just past the mall?”

“That’s fine with me.”

“Do you want to go somewhere else?” she asked.

“As long as I’m with you, I’ll enjoy it,” he said with a smile. “See you at 6:30.”

When they deneme bonus met in the lobby, they had both changed into jeans. Jim was glad the rest of the team hadn’t come in yet; he liked spending time with just Kelly.

Kelly was glad the rest of the team hadn’t come in yet; she liked spending time with just Jim.

When they sat down, they each ordered a drink.

“I’m only letting you have one tonight,” Jim said.

“Really? Brad says I get horny and easy after a couple of drinks. You sure you don’t want me to have a few?”

Jim turned red, and Kelly started laughing.

“You enjoy doing that, don’t you?” Jim asked accusingly through his smile.

“Yep, I sure do!’ Kelly replied.

“I’m only letting you have one so you’re not hung over for your presentation tomorrow.”

“Oh, okay. Tomorrow you can get me drunk,” Kelly said, “and horny.” Again, she started laughing and Jim just shook his head.

Throughout the dinner, Jim and Kelly went back and forth between talking about work, talking about their families, talking about events they attended recently, and a million other things. There was frequent laughter as there usually is when good friends get together. And in the short time they knew each other, Kelly and Jim had become good friends.

When they got back to the hotel, they got in the elevator and hit the two buttons for their floors. As the elevator dinged for Jim’s floor, he turned to Kelly.

“Get a good night’s sleep. You’ll be great tomorrow.”

Kelly reached for him, and they hugged each other.

“Thanks, Jim. Thanks for getting me ready. And thanks for ALL the help you’ve given me.” Kelly pulled him hard against her body.

Jim loved hugging Kelly and feeling her body against his. They broke the hug after a few seconds.

“Always happy to help you, Kelly. See you tomorrow morning.”

Jim got out of the elevator. After the door closed, he turned and stared at the closed door. In his mind, it was as if he had x-ray vision, as he could still picture Kelly standing in the elevator with a sweet smile on her face. After a few seconds, he turned and went to his room.

The next morning, Jim got to the conference room early to make sure everything was working properly. This conference room had a number of tables facing the front, where there was a large screen. Each table had a speaker and microphone to accommodate audio or video calls. There was also a video cable at each table so anyone could present on the screen. The podium contained the master controls for everything and also had a video cable. Jim laid his computer on the podium and plugged in the cable for the projector. Everything seemed to be working well.

After a few minutes, Jack and Kelly came in. Jack was wearing a suit and tie, in deference to his audience, and Kelly was wearing a grey business suit with a white blouse. She smiled when she saw Jim, but she didn’t give him a hug with Jack there. Jim showed them that everything was working, he cued up the title slide, and then he blanked the computer screen so the presentation wouldn’t be on the screen when the audience shuffled in. The three of them sat down at the back row of tables while they waited for the attendees.

After the room filled up, Jack’s boss gave a brief introduction of the project, introduced Jack and Kelly, and told Jack he could start. Jack hit the button to display the first slide and started the presentation.

Jack started out with a brief background about why the project got started in the first place. Then he went through the project goals, as originally laid out, some detours they had to take along the way, and a high-level summary of the results they achieved. A few VPs asked questions along the way, but everyone seemed pleased.

After his part was done, Jack introduced Kelly, who was going to go through the financials for the project, including costs and future benefits. She seemed nervous when she started, but she quickly calmed down and did a good job presenting her material. She explained why some of the costs ended up going over budget, and the VPs accepted the explanations. Finally, Kelly talked about follow-on projects they’d be proposing which could have a huge cost/benefit now that the initial infrastructure project was in place.

One VP asked a tough question about the estimates of future benefits, but Kelly was prepared and gave a clear explanation. The VP nodded at the end, causing Kelly to smile.

After her last slide, Jack walked back up to the front of the room and asked if there were any questions. Two people asked questions, one which Jack answered and one which Kelly answered. After a moment without anyone else asking anything, a Senior VP spoke up.

“Congratulations. This project worked out extremely well. Please give our thanks to your entire team. And your presentation today was perfect. It hit exactly the right level of detail. Thank you. I don’t think you’ll have too much trouble getting approval from this group for most of your follow-on projects. Well done!”

As soon as the Senior VP finished talking, he stood up. And then, as if he had pressed the “Master Ejection Seat” button, all the other attendees stood up in unison and filed out of the room. Jack’s boss smiled at Jack and Kelly, who were still in the front of the room.

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