Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What I'm Doing

    I'm not retired. I'm not working, but I'm not retired. Sometimes, when I am talking to former co-workers, they say I'm retired. Retirement is when some sends you a paycheck for not working. That's not me.
    I left the full-time work force after working for a large aircraft manufacturer for close to 20 years. When I joined the company, I was a field service representative, tech-rep in some circles, and spent years at outside locations supporting foreign and domestic customers. That was me, walking around the flight line or hangar, checking things out and generally being available for consultation.
    I think I had some advantages over other FSR's, namely I had a good understanding of how the whole airplane worked. And, since I had worked on a variety of models, I had some idea of the growth of the systems. Plus, I have always had pretty good troubleshooting skills. I tend to think about the relationship between things, so I may not jump right into something, but I usually head off in the right direction.
    After my employer couldn't come to terms with our major customer, I, along with a bunch of other FSRs returned to the plant (that's when I became a spare rep.) Some found other jobs, some retired, some were laid-off. I managed to stay around for several more years, picking up both short term field assignments and in-plant work. But after a while it was clear I was stuck in the plant. And I didn't like it.
    I became involved mainly with project management and proposal work. I didn't like it. Some of the work was challenging, even interesting sometimes, but it was what I always called paper-plane work and I didn't like it. Finally, one particularly bad Friday, I walked out of the office at the usual time, but as I left the building I turned back and realized that I'd never return. And I didn't.
    Of course, I had to suffer through a couple of weeks while my bosses tried to convince me to return. Not only were they not successful, but they didn't realize that they were exhibiting some characteristics that I had come to really dislike. They were pretty - but they didn't know how the business operated - not technically and not legally - but they were pretty.
    That was in early '99. I went down to my sailboat and spent 4 or 5 days a week making day trips around the local sailing area. I did go back at the end of 2001, but as casual contract labor. A group needed some expertise on my main product and I filled that role until mid-2006. The program was really a non-sarter and was dying as time went along, but I was able to pick-up rent money doing odd-jobs. Occasionally, I even made it back out onto the flight-line.
    So now that's over. I also sold the sailboat; it was old and, although it provided good service as a day-sailor and occasional camper, it had a few condition problems. It would have needed many dollars to get through an insurance survey. So I let it go. Now I spend too much time on the computer, and every now and then go wack some golf balls around, and spend some time in the garage doing things to the motorcycles and car. I'm wondering how I ever found time to work.
    And I like it.


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