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My Friend Is a 72-Year Old Programmer

The last 15 years prior to his retirement Joe spent working as a mainframe programmer for a large financial firm

Yakov Fain's Blog

This is a short story about my friend (let’s call him Joe). The last 15 years prior to his retirement Joe spent working as a mainframe programmer for a large financial firm in New York City.  He stopped working at 67, collected well deserved retirement package and was looking  forward to a new life going places around the world and meeting new people.  His lovely wife Mary is a food critic and is also into travel.  We often travel with Joe and Mary, and like these trips a lot.  We never feel any age difference because Joe and Mary are a lot more energetic and interesting people than many 40 years old that I know.

To make a long story short, after a year of enjoying his retirement, Joe got a call from a former boss asking for help. Outsourcing of their system to young people did not work out, because the system was rather complex, and knowing  the syntax of a programming language did not cut it – they needed people who understand the application really well. Joe signed a 6-month telecommuting contract paying very good hourly rate.

Needless to say, this 6-month contract turned into a 2-year gig. Finally Joe could afford to start traveling full time. We’d join Joe with his lovely wife Mary whenever our busy schedule permitted. This month, we’ve spent a week with them in Europe, returned back in the USA, while Joe,72 and Mary continued their journey. Joe loved this lifestyle and often expressed his happiness with the fact that his programming career was finally over.

Last week, I got an email from Mary saying that Joe had to break his vacation and return to New York…to start a new 6-month contract with his former employer who was looking for Joe around the globe and managed to convince his to accept this offer.
It’s yet another 6-month gig, but let’s not fool ourselves - Joe is facing yet another 2 years of programming.

I wish Joe all the best with his new contract. I know it’s not about money but about being in demand, which is very important for any professional.  

Many years ago The Beatles wrote a song “When I’m sixty four”:

“I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone.
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride,
Doing the garden, digging the weeds,
Who could ask for more.
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four.”

Well, Joe asks for more at 72. Now I have a dream to get a programming gig when I’ll be 72. What can be better?

Good luck, Joe!  Many more contracts to come! Mary, do not be angry, let’s plan our next skiing vacation. By the way, have I mentioned that Joe is a good skier too?

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More Stories By Yakov Fain

Yakov Fain is a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay. He wrote a thousand blogs ( and several books about software development. Yakov authored and co-authored such books as "Angular 2 Development with TypeScript", "Java 24-Hour Trainer", and "Enterprise Web Development". His Twitter tag is @yfain

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