Full Circle

Nineteen years ago last week I walked through the doors of the United States Property & Fiscal Office (USPFO) for California for the very first time. Thus began my career as a Federal Technician. I was a mere 23 years old – soon to be 24. I’d like to say that I didn’t plan on being here nearly 20 years later. I’d like to say that but it would be a lie.

I was looking for security. As a child raised with a disabled father who was too old and old-fashioned to allow his wife to be the family breadwinner, I remember clearly the monthly juggling act come bill paying time. Of course, the significance was lost on me in those days but I do remember having some awareness of financial stress. So when I saw the opportunity for a government job all the security and stability seeking bells in my head began ringing with glee. So, deep down inside, I did plan on being at my new job ad infinitum.

This unadmitted career plan still didn’t keep me from being traumatized my first few weeks on the job. Myself and another new hire close to my own delicate age began in the Property Management section. How we got so lucky I’ll never understand. Property Management was, at that time, a fairly sedate section filled with middle-aged women who had been working there long enough to see the retirement light at the end of the tunnel. One afternoon, Gladys casually mentions that she had been working at that desk longer than I had been alive.

For some reason, I was absolutely horrified by this!!! I saw years and years of servitude stretching out before me. Stagnation. Old age. Wrinkles. Prior to that the longest I’d worked anywhere was 2 years (exactly). The very thought of so many years at one job boggled my mind.

Fast forward 19 years and 4 desks (positions) and I find myself training a fresh-faced 23 year old. He’s funny and personable and brings loads of life into the office. He has dreams and plans of becoming a nurse. He was 4 years old when I began working here. I wonder if he’s as horrified as I was. I wonder if he’ll still be here in 2029…

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