The joys and sorrows of retirement

Senior Correspondent Mike Causey is on vacation. While he’s away, he’s invited guest columnists to fill in.

Most federal workers say they have mixed emotions about retiring. Especially as that day gets closer and closer. Some people can’t wait. Others don’t want to leave. For some, it’s both. Today’s guest columnist is a Ph.D. from MIT. He spent most of his career either in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, or with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission here in the D.C. area. Here’s his five-point outline of the ups and downs of retirement:

1) Goodbye bureaucracy

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Most federal workers say they have mixed emotions about retiring. Especially as that day gets closer and closer. Some people can’t wait. Others don’t want to leave. For some, it’s both. Today’s guest columnist is a Ph.D. from MIT. He spent most of his career either in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, or with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission here in the D.C. area. Here’s his five-point outline of the ups and downs of retirement:

1) Goodbye bureaucracy

“One of my responsibilities was to issue or reject nuclear license amendments that had been proposed by utilities. This required obtaining technical reviews and approval or disapproval from several areas of technical expertise. Of course, it showed one’s worth to be in the concurrence chain. I recall issuing several documents that had as many as 15 or more concurrences from reviewers, their supervisors, the next level of supervision, lawyers and supervisors, my own management. Sometimes a document would sit on someone’s desk for days until I would chase it down and find it buried in a stack of other documents.

Another responsibility was to keep a formal record of all drafts of documents as changes were incorporated. The drafts could then be requested by the public through the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act). Some members of the public would then take potshots at thoughts and ideas which were in early drafts but which had been rejected and discarded.

I enjoyed saying goodbye to these bureaucratic functions.

2) New supervisors making their mark

I used to have an internal form that I issued to technical reviewers to assign a tracking number for a task, identify the reviewer/organizational unit/supervisor, commitment to a schedule signatures, etc. Each time a new manager arrived, the format of the form was changed. I kept copies of the old forms, and after a few years I had six versions of the form. The next revision of the form was identical to the original format I started with. I knew I wouldn’t miss that kind of thing in my retirement.

3) Health care

The federal retirement health care system has protected me and my wife (also a fed) from the Obamacare [Affordable Care Act] fiasco … we have been able to keep our own doctors and insurance plans.

4) Old-timer’s advice

I definitely miss the great advice I got from the old-timers at work. One old-timer had a large poster on the inside of his office door. The poster said, ‘Never try to teach a pig to sing.’ The following five reasons were given:
1. It wastes your time
2. It wastes the pig’s time
3. It frustrates you and makes you mad
4. It makes the pig mad
5. And the pig can’t do it anyway

A second old-timer had the following three tenets that he revered:
1. Keep your nose clean
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff
3. It’s ALL small stuff

When I left my duty station for the last time, I felt as though I had made a difference in my years at work, and I could recall some victories I had achieved for public safety. However, that last piece of advice seemed more relevant as I headed into retirement.

5) Leaving

The bittersweet part of retiring was leaving hundreds of colleagues with whom I worked daily, knowing that I might never see many of them again. It was a little like graduating from high school and saying goodbye to longtime friends. I have managed to stay in touch with some, but there was a kind of sadness to ending relationships with a lot of good people.”

—Dr. Gordon Edison

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Jory Heckman

More than 141 languages have become extinct in the last 40 years

Source: Ethnos Project

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