Observations from my high school reunion

By Art Gallagher

The Bergenfield High School Class of ’76 had its 35th year reunion this past weekend.  Thanks to facebook I’ve reconnected with many friends from my youth and attended my first reunion since graduation.

I suppose the good news is that I wasn’t the heaviest or the grayest member of my class in attendence.   It was fun catching up with and remembering so many old friends.  It felt odd pretending to remember others.

There were two people I got reacquainted with at the reunion that reminded me of how much the world has changed in 35 years.

I don’t remember who was designated “most likely to succeed” in my high school year book.  The guy who succeeded is Glenn.  He retired a year ago from the Bergenfield Police Department.  His take home pay from his pension is $20 per month less than it was when he was working, so he says.  He’s now a full time dad to his 10 year old son.

Bob probably should have been voted most likely to succeed back in 1976.   I knew from facebook that Bob became a medical doctor, which impressed me.  Seeing Bob on Saturday night for the first time in 35 years I congratulated him on his success.  “You’re a doctor!” I said.  “I have a family practice,” Bob said, without an ounce of pride or joy.

Family practitioners are small business owners.  Bob and I had more in common than I realized.  Life was sweet for us five years ago.  Our educations and hard work were paying off and the future looked bright and comfortable.  Now we are both facing a great deal of uncertainty and second guessing the choices we made decades ago.  We’re getting squeezed by institutions we can’t afford to fight and by circumstances beyond our control.

The choices Glenn made look pretty good in hindsight.

Posted: April 13th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Pensions | Tags: | 4 Comments »

4 Comments on “Observations from my high school reunion”

  1. Justified Right said at 10:50 am on April 13th, 2011:

    Great post. I’ve pondered the concept you raise about public employment as a business decision many times.

    My dear friend got into the public employee’s union at 18. He will have his 30 in this year at 48.

    He will retire with a sizeable, near 6 figure paycheck and free health insuance for life.

    He and I were figuring it out one day. For me to get what he gets each week, I’d have to save damn near $3 million and earn 5% to live off the interest (assuming I could get 5%).

    Public employment is no longer public service. We’ve turned it into a lucrative business plan.

  2. TR said at 2:43 pm on April 14th, 2011:

    Man you are old.

  3. Cut Mea Break said at 11:30 pm on April 14th, 2011:

    There is no way that Gallagher was not the fattest at his reunion. If anyone has seen him, its like Gallagher the Hutt!

  4. MoreMonmouthMusings » Blog Archive » How can we sustain this system? said at 9:21 pm on December 29th, 2011:

    […] adults in the prime of their earning years the equivalent of full time wages not to work.  Like my high school buddy who retired from the Bergenfield Police Department at 53 and takes home $20 per month less per […]