Stuck In A Job You Hate?


I distinctly remember the first time I saw a “retirement clock.”

It was on the desk at the home workstation of a psychiatric nurse who had already worked about ten years in the outpatient clinic of one of the VA medical centers where I had once worked.

It was a digital clock, clicking off the seconds, minutes, hours, and days and months and years (five and a bit) she was counting until she could walk away from the VA (and the U.S. Government) as an employer, with a guaranteed salary from them until the end of her days for doing absolutely nothing.

I asked her what I have to admit (what seemed to me) the obvious question.

“What are you planning to do when you retire?”

She answered with a big fat grin.

“Absolutely nothing.”

I knew she was in trouble already.  But she quickly recanted a bit.

“Woman-stuff.  Like playing with children and maybe some really good cooking…”

I thought immediately of some research that was starting to come together when I was leaving the military.  Folks who returned after 20 years without any specific plans tended to get depressed in the first year.  The ones who seemed to do best had a plan and/or a passion.  Like the man who pretty much ran the theater on base and wanted to do that “full time” what he had already been doing for many years.

I have seen, in other people’s offices, a rather frightening proliferation of retirement clocks.

This is little to nothing compared to the abbreviated conversations I actually sometimes have with people of my own age.  The adjective most frequently used to discuss retirement is “security.”

I remember hearing that word from both my parents.  Their idea of security was getting me to swear a Jewish oath I would take care of them forever.

Mom died from a heart attack.  Dad died in his bed in a nursing home.

I really did not learn risk-taking from them.  They had the insecure lives that grew out of a closed religious community made up mostly of first and second generation European immigrants.

I am angry that I live in a nation full of adults who worry about retirement only in terms of “security,” and “how quick I going to get there.”

This is an America where adults hate their jobs and want them to end.

This is an America where adults are hurrying to death.

I am starting a non-profit.  Looking for different and new ways to do my job and to improve an American system of medical care that seems to be inventing new ways to become less useful and helpful to American health and longevity on a daily basis.

This is the kind of stuff I think and dream about.

Filed under military, News by on #

Leave a Comment

Fields marked by an asterisk (*) are required.