Round and Round

Thirty one years ago today… Driving up that same hill.  Trees blasting color.  An unexpected forest of maples lining a four lane access road on the way into an industrial research park.

It was my first day of work.

Every October, there’s a flashback.  When the morning light is hitting those trees, the anniversary knocks me on the head.

i started as a student lab tech.  There was this guy, and we worked together in the laser test cells.  He was a long-haired genius, and kinda cool, and offered to give me a ride to work if i ever needed, because he lived near the university apartments.

i went over to have dinner with him in December of that year.  i stayed for 25 years.  We jokingly referred to me as the “thing that wouldn’t leave”.

Somewhere along the way, we bought a house, got married, had a kid, bought a different house, and then had another kid.  Raised those kids, bought a vacation house, separated, divorced, and moved on as those kids went off to university.

Through all of that?  i drove up the same hill every October.  Catching the incredible color of those maples in the morning light, and remembering the day i started work.

It’s pretty unusual to have such tenure with an employer.  The “Thirty Year Company Man” is nearly extinct.  It’s been a good ride, that’s for sure.  i’ve done nearly every job available…

Go Fer” Student Trainee.

Toxic Waste Removal Technician Research Assistant.

Junket Queen Research Area Lead.

Benevolent Dictator Program Manager.

Adult Day Care Manager Supervisor.

Referee Tech Advisor.

Evangelist and Marketeer Portfolio Manager.

Fortune Teller Strategic Planner.

Rather than looking forward to what’s next?  i now plan my retirement – five years left if all goes well.  Trying to earn the paycheck.  Trying to be useful.  Trying really hard to still give a shit.  Thankful to have it – but frequently spending time in meetings trying to stay awake by calculating the number of days i have left.

But there were those trees this morning, showing off their autumn finest in the bright sunlight.  They’re thirty-one years older, too.  Like me?  They’re a bit thicker around the middle.  They’ve weathered some storms and are still standing.

But i’m out in five.  They have to stick around…

amazing photo found here

38 thoughts on “Round and Round

  1. Now here’s the thing, the grab-you-by-the-throat thing, that keeps me reading your blog…you have the gift of conveying meaning. Humour spliced with the ugliness that is part of Life. A bit like a beverage that anyone can drink.
    I’ll be back for a refill… 🙂

    • thank you. i’m not a writer. but this venue has provided me a place to organize my thoughts, and i’ve learned to be a bit more efficient in my communication as a result… if others are engaged and entertained? then i’ve got it right… Oh, and i hope you don’t mind if the beverage is spiked!

    • thanks, lovely lady! don’t mean to detain you, but am very glad you’re sticking around. i was prepared to walk away a couple months ago. thought i was done. then the universe took a gigantic cosmic shit in the middle of my corner of earth, and i felt the need to do it again…

    • Oh, no. Not at all. Just a blogger. Started using this forum to get things out of my head so they would quit rattling around so much – the noise was keeping me awake. And it got a bit addictive, i guess… Glad you stop by! You really ‘class up the joint’…. xoxo

  2. Freedom 55, eh? I thought that fantasy program was dead. Not for everyone, I guess. Going to be a challenge keeping interested for 5. How am I supposed to do it for 10?

    • i got lucky. could stick around longer and take home more retirement pay, but have seen too many work til 65, or older, and then die just after retirement. i’m doing the math to see if i can go a little earlier… the key is having in those 30 years. i am already working my next job to help keep me engaged through the end of career.

  3. ‘not a writer’???? WTF? So often your words reach out and tangle in our heart strings. Having done so they give a quick yank. And then, while we are still hurting you make us laugh. Sometimes the order is reversed, but it is all there. What is it you are doing if it isn’t writing?

    • thank you. and sorry about the cardiac mess – send me a bill? i liken it to ‘hoarking up something that is disruptive’ rather than writing. the things that generally get the strongest response are the things i write quickly – the things i write that i need to say, rather than the stuff i write because i haven’t written in awhile… mostly? i do this because it’s cheaper than therapy, and if i am going to afford that retirement i have planned, i need to save my pennies…

  4. Great one, daisyfae. You may not be a writer, but you can do a damned good imitation when the mood strikes. Congratulations on surviving another year of work.

    • Thanks. You understand the world i work in pretty well, i think. As you once said, at least i haven’t become that guy that walks around all day with a coffee cup asking “Hey, guys. What’s goin’ on?”. At least not yet… i’m lucky to have backed into this gig. At 19 years old, no less. How did i last this long?

  5. I thought you were going to say 31 years ago today you were born. I guess metaphorically speaking, that’s accurate. You know job security like nobody else I’ve met. A testament to your abilities.

    Do you guys have autumn already? It’s still green, green out her. We’ll get ours.

    • You are quite the charmer, sir! Thanks, but i know better. You’ve seen me in person. Nice effort, though! And it’s not a testament to my abilities… unless the abilities are “outplay, outwit, outlast”. knowing when to stand and fight. knowing when to leave a job and find another assignment. knowing when to wear beige and stay in my office. those have been some key survival skills… yeah, i’m good at the shit they pay me to do, but that’s only part of it…

      very much autumn here. a little early due to the summer drought. about 2 weeks earlier than usual. and it’s absolutely gorgeous…. jeep and motorcycle weather for sure….

  6. Yep. That was pretty damn good. That was more than pretty damn good. 9 days and a wake-up and i’m gainfully un-employed, be the third time i’ve been laid off, think i’m gonna grow a gigantic beard, think the PTA set will love it.

    • Thank you. i am really looking forward to your tales of taking on the Harper Valley PTA (or is it closer to “Happy Valley”?)…. would think that it has the makings of a tremendous reality show….. hoping that there’s a way to get some photos, too!

  7. Congrats on staying with one company so long. That’s amazing. I’ve been at my current job for five years now. That’s three times longer than any other place I’ve ever been. Now, if this company can just take off (as it seems continuously poised to do) maybe I’ll be able to make a career out of it and stay here. Wouldn’t that be something?

    Isn’t it funny that after commuting to the same place for so long, you don’t think about driving there? Your subconscious mind does all the work. When I’ve switched jobs, sometimes I’ve found myself driving to one of the old ones. It usually takes a week or two before the reflex dies off and the subconscious driver buried in me gets the idea. Until then, I have to be on my guard or I’ll end up in the wrong place.

    • Much of it has been luck, really. But being willing to change jobs internally on a fairly regular basis has helped, too. Giving up all ambition? Another key… When asked what my short term goals were? “Keep My Job”. Long term? “Retire Early”.

      After so many years of driving to the same general place, although i’ve been in quite a few different buildings, my car and body are on autopilot. i often wake up at my desk, with half a cup of coffee beside me. Makes it easy…

  8. A load of similarities there you know! I’m still married but the career progression although different actual titles mimics some of your alternatives closely and yes I’m trying to look like I care and try to work out why others get so passionate – the security monitor relishing in telling me she has the power to turn off my application if it fails her vulnerability test… but we just buy the package in and install it – if the vendor won’t fix it quickly what can I do? It might say 30 days in the contract etc… She had a real gleam in her eye as though she was saving the world… oh how I wish I was still that delusional… how many days to go is it now?… 😉

    • Most of us start off in the realm of the workerbee… and if we can tie our own shoes, and don’t avoid the responsibility of it, we end up supervising and in charge of things… if we’re lucky enough to be in the same place…

      As of today? It will be in 1,711 days – assuming that i don’t really work on my last day, as i’ll be busy turning in keys and whatnot. Four years, eight months and seven days. If i’m lucky…

  9. Daisy, this is so well written. I particularly like the comparison between you and the trees at the end…

    30 years in one job? Wow! I was such a job hopper until I finally found the thing I love to do, now I’ve been at it since 1991; I doubt if I’ll ever completely retire from massage. I may pull back and do less when I get to 62; I don’t know. My body is starting to tell me that it doesn’t really like the repetitive use any more. Still, it is amazing that you have had the same company for so long as an employer. It says a lot about you as an employee, and also a lot about your employer. So many of them just don’t want a person around so long that they are earning “too much”.

    I have a client who recently was laid off by his company after working there 18 years. They then went and hired someone at the entry level and are training him to do his job — saves the company about $6/hr. I think this is wrongful termination, but you have to have a lawyer to fight it. so he has found another job.

    • Thank you. Very surprised by the reaction to the writing. It just came out that way. When i try to ‘write’? i usually miss by a few miles… a lesson in that, i suppose.

      The nature of my work lends itself to longer-term employment. Research is a game of patience and perseverence, and to do it effectively, you really need to maintain staff. Flexibility helped. And again, losing ambition to “succeed” in the traditional sense also helped, as i was able to accept “lesser” positions after serving as a “Chief” when i was just in my 40’s – something many aspire to achieve as the culmination of a career.

      Hate the elimination of experienced folks just to save a few bucks. Doesn’t seem right… and suspect to fight it legally would be a costly proposition.

  10. Lovely retrospective, and I like how you brought it full circle. It’s interesting to look back at your life when it’s sandwiched between book ends. Here’s hoping your final 5 years of employment go well!

    • it’s a cheesy and lame ‘Reader’s Digest”-esque tactic to let me believe that i completed the thought…. but it works. and tells me when i’m done writing! just may have landed my next assignment – so i’m hoping the next 5 years are already off to a better start!

  11. I’ve been at my job for five years and I’ve got a completely new set of work but the same fucking job title. Grrrr. That photo, by the way, is the bomb diggity.

    • it’s when the responsibilities keep going up and the headaches and the amount of work, but the pay stays level that it gets really bad… is there any reason you can’t make up your own title and make your own business cards?

      Photo? A thousand kinds of awesome. did the google image search for ‘autumn caorousel” and it showed up — the gent who took this also has some other gorgeous shots on his public flikr page. really hope he doesn’t mind the extra views…

  12. Whether you think you’re a “writer” or not, you do a pretty awesome imitation of it! lol
    I have decided that I will never be able to retire and they’ll have to haul my rotting carcass out.
    In this economy, and the way things are headed, retirement will NOT be an option for me.

    But I think it’s fantastic that you DO!
    Count ’em down sister!! 🙂

    • thank you… i’m queen of the imposters in so many ways… why not add ‘writer’ to the list?

      i’m lucky to have even the prospect of a pension, let alone one that can kick in at 55 years old. it can all go away in a heartbeat, and i’ll still be lucky. hoping you can find a decent groove at some point, and plan an escape pod…

  13. Must be lovely thinking that work soon won’t have any hold on you. I think leaving work as early as possible is an excellent idea if it’s financially possible and you have interests outside of work. There aren’t enough jobs as it is so it makes sense to let people go early if they want.

    Blimey, that’ll be one hell of a leaving party though!

    • i’m also planning to have all the bills paid when i go… one old broad, with no debt and a pesky travel habit, can live pretty cheaply – excpept for that expensive travel habit… unlikely to have a leaving party. i tend to disappear in the night, as i’m horrible at saying goodbye…

  14. Those five years will blast past in no time and you’ll be free! Free, I tells ya!

    (I remember back in the Dark Ages when I was studying to be a dental hygienist that I spelled out “Is it ’77 yet?” (graduation date) on the front of the fridge with my kids’ magnetic letters. That was 36 years ago. I’ve been out of the gum gardener biz for over 15 years now, but it seems like only yesterday.)

    • The only way for me to win this bet is to get healthier, stronger and leaner and stay that way….”gum gardener” is a hoot, by the way! i’ll call my hygenist that the next time she’s jabbing me with pointy things! ’77 seems like a couple days ago… how’d that happen?

  15. You always brighten my day, dear DaisyFae. I’ve never worked that long at anything (even my marriage to the Lovely One is only 24 years old), so you have my congrats! Here’s a little something for you:

    Stay well.


    • Thank you, good sir! i’ve had this song in my head for a few days now — and love it! Still a little unsteady on my wheels, but this is my theme song when i’m shufflin’ round and round the rink!

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