Taking a Step Back

 

After I left the military, I took a corporate job and managed a large printing operation for a national company.  It was a pretty good job, but I always wanted to teach school and spent a year getting a Texas 6-12 math certificate at 39 (despite my engineering degree there were surprising hurdles to overcome).  I spent the next 16 years in the classroom and really enjoyed myself.  Mrs. Tex and I were discussing the changes today.  She retired from her airline pilot job 4 years ago and recently finished her paramedic training.  She works part-time for the county EMS agency and does lots of medical work for our rural fire department.  We both went from jobs that could be considered management to jobs much more like skilled technician jobs, and didn’t mind the change; in fact, we sort of enjoyed the reduced responsibility.  One of our firefighters is a retired MD and completed the paramedic program with my wife.  She gets frustrated because many of her MD friends don’t get it.  She sees it as giving back to our community but her friends see it as an unfathomable step-down.

I worked with people my age who had left some other career to teach school.  In general, most didn’t last.  It’s tough enough teaching high school kids, but not everyone could take suddenly becoming labor after years in management. Two retired field grade officers I worked with had a terrible time adapting.  Kids could push their buttons quite easily (many kids are highly accomplished at this) and they couldn’t cope with it.  Similarly, my wife talked about guys that retired as full colonels who were suddenly second officers flying the panel on a cargo 727 or DC-10 (and carrying the thermos, as she put it) and struggled with the change in status.  Yet, others adapted well; we spoke about one guy she knew from her USAF days who was a reserve one star and loved being just a working pilot in the right seat.

Whenever I read about someone who takes whatever job will put food on the table after being laid off from some Wall Street or tech firm, I’m truly impressed.  A change in status was one of the most enjoyable things I ever did.  I’m sure there is some lesson to impart to young people here, but I’m not sure exactly what it is.  We were fortunate to already be financially secure before these leaps into the unknown, so maybe our examples aren’t as compelling as they would otherwise be.

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  1. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    I have had my career crash and start over more than a few times over the years.  Companies go out of business and take you with them.  One even had a CEO that blew his brains out before his company that got on one of those American Greed shows on corporate malfeasance.  That gig managed to get all its employees blackballed for a few years.  I suspect I may have one or two more crashes in me yet before I retire.  I see my days numbered as age advances, Biden continues and Woke America starts hunting what it views as the old white guard.  All you can do is dig in and keep swinging until you have no swings left then swing some more.  

    • #1
  2. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;

    • #2
  3. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Whenever I read about someone who takes whatever job will put food on the table after being laid off from some Wall Street or tech firm I’m truly impressed.

    Having done lots of menial labor in my time, I’m convinced that there is a sharp divide between those you describe and those who look for other “alternatives” less admirable but easier.  I suspect that there are studies on this, and would really like to know the internal difference between those for whom unemployment is intolerable–an opportunity even– and those for whom it’s no big deal.

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  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    There is a huge, huge, difference between retiring and then doing something, and having it stripped away through no fault of one’s own. 

    • #4
  5. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There is a huge, huge, difference between retiring and then doing something, and having it stripped away through no fault of one’s own.

    I can see that.  I have had a few friends that were laid off a few years before retirement.  Really messed up their plans.  Not sure they ever got over it.

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  6. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    There is a huge, huge, difference between retiring and then doing something, and having it stripped away through no fault of one’s own.

    Certainly true.  And when someone can adapt to that forced change in status with grace it’s much more impressive.  

    • #6
  7. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Whenever I read about someone who takes whatever job will put food on the table after being laid off from some Wall Street or tech firm I’m truly impressed.

    Having done lots of menial labor in my time, I’m convinced that there is a sharp divide between those you describe and those who look for other “alternatives” less admirable but easier. I suspect that there are studies on this, and would really like to know the internal difference between those for whom unemployment is intolerable–an opportunity even– and those for whom it’s no big deal.

    I think it’s rare to go theough a whole career without having the rug pulled out unexpectedly and having to reboot a few times. Tough but character-revealing in the response to it. How are the snowflakes going to handle it? With their sense of entitlement and narcism they are programmed to be forever victims. I don’t think this is an accident. If you have enough time to find micro-aggressions where none are intended, you’re a slacker and destined for a lifetime of disatisfaction and resentment. Grow up!

    • #7
  8. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Max Knots (View Comment):
    I think it’s rare to go through a whole career without having the rug pulled out unexpectedly and having to reboot a few times. Tough but character-revealing in the response to it.

    That’s happened to me half a dozen time. The worst was when I was wrong-footed by a job that was ending at the end of the fiscal year in 2001. I had four job offers on September 10, 2001, and an interview in Houston the following week.  On Sept 12, all four offers were withdrawn and the interview cancelled because of events the previous day. I spent nine months unemployed, going through all my savings. I got a job unexpectedly just before my money ran out and my credit cards maxed out. It took eight years to recover.

    I vowed that would never happen again. The next time I was unexpectedly laid-off, I was ready. It took me less than a month to find a new job and I have never been more than a month or so between jobs since except when I wanted to be. Even last year when I got let go from a job a week after the contract was renewed I bounced back immediately.

    I don’t think it was luck, so much as preparedness. There was some luck, but I got it because I was prepared to capitalize on it. Most people go through life assuming tomorrow will be like today and yesterday. I go through it asking “and what do I do if ‘X’ (a current employer) goes toes-up tomorrow?” 

    • #8