Thursday, April 14, 2016

Last Working Day

Well, Dear Readers, this is it. I'm hanging up my spurs, taking down my shingle, cleaning out the drawers, etc, etc. Today is April 14th: my last working day.

I have been working in the Pentagon since 1992 ... until 1996 as an active-duty Air Force officer, and from 1996 to today as a contractor supporting various Air Force programs. I may hold the record for the largest number of employers while occupying the same desk - I was hired by GRCI, Inc, in 1996; GRCI was bought by AT&T in 2000; AT&T lost the contract four years later and I was taken on by Sverdrup Technology; and Sverdrup was later subsumed into Jacobs Technology, from which I retire effective today. During that time, I also changed office symbols about eight times, and the focus of my work changed from support to Air Force space programs to writing policies and instructions for the conduct of Air Force cyberspace operations. I also managed the office water fund, which generated no end of snarky comments from my co-workers who came up with creative ways of protesting having to pay their share of the bill each month ... the best one was the month the per capita share was $4.00, and one of my co-workers paid with four one-dollar bills, each one origami'd into a little shirt to symbolize that I was taking the shirt from his back ...

There are things I will not miss about working here:

I won't miss the complex tasks with ridiculous deadlines ... if the ultimate deadline is two weeks off, you may get two hours to read and digest a 200-page document and prepare a detailed summary with complete recommendations and an accompanying briefing so that each supervisory level above you has plenty of time to review and comment on your work, and the final reviewer has a few days to get around to looking at it ... and then criticize because you didn't do an adequate job of reviewing.

I won't miss the staffing games in which people are required to have your review and concurrence on something, but really don't want your input, and so drop it on you at 4:30 on Friday afternoon with a deadline of 9:00 AM Monday in the hope that you'll just say "screw it," and send it back with no comments.

I won't miss the perception that every government contractor is a useless bottom-feeder gorging at the government trough when, in fact, we're here because the government slashed the number of workers it had in order to save money, while not reducing the workload for those that remained. I can pretty much guarantee that things would grind to a halt without us. Admittedly, not every contractor is an upright and hard-working person, but then again, neither is every government employee.

I won't miss the commute, although riding the bus did provide time for reading in the morning and afternoon.

And there are things I will miss about working here:

I will miss working with some of the smartest and most dedicated people in the country, in an intellectually stimulating environment.

I will miss the adventure of working in the Pentagon, where there's always a new historical display around the next corner, and one of the best research libraries around. And where you never know when someone you knew five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago will suddenly appear ... many years ago I stepped out the door of the vault where I was working just as someone was stepping out the door of the vault across the hall ... my friend who threw the party at which Agnes and I met in Germany all those years ago!

I will miss knowing that the work I did, frustrating as it might have been, was important and provided valuable information and guidance for Air Force people around the world.

But it's time to move on. My contract ran out and the company that won the new contract offered me a position at a salary that was ... well ... let's just say that it was considerably far below what I was prepared to accept. And so I'm turning the page and seeing what life offers beyond writing policy for cyberspace operations ...

So ...

If you know anyone who is looking for an experienced announcer for dance and equestrian events, or someone who enjoys writing and editing, give them my name. But tell them not to call before 8:00 AM, because my days of getting up at 4:00 AM are over. And tell them not to call after 8:00 PM, because I like going to bed early unless there's a good party going on.

Have a good day. More thoughts in the days to come ... but posted a bit later than you're used to.



Dave Hess said...

Congratulations, Bilbo! But I must say I have mixed feelings about your retirement. I'm happy for you, of course, but when young guys like you start retiring it does make me feel awfully old. I will always remember you as that dashing, young Air Force officer I met all those years ago in Berlin. All the best to you and Agnes!

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Congratulations, Bilbo! You made it to the end; but must have put up with a lot in the process. I hope you love your hard-earned retirement and have a happy life afterwards. More time with Agnes, possibly travel or making other plans.

Thank you for your service to our country, both as an Air Force officer and a government contractor.

And happy days for you!

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Yay! Retirement Day at last. You earned it; I hope you enjoy your retirement, Bilbo!

Kruiser said...

Thanks for all the valuable work you've done for our country over the years. I'm a big fan! Now Agnes will have half the income and twice the husband.

John Hill said...

Congratulations, my friend!

Gonzo Dave said...

It's about time!

Congratulations! See you in a week!

Pep said...

Congratulations, Bill...I wasn't even aware that you worked at the dad worked there during "the" war (II of course). I could have written a similar blog about my mixed feelings about education and it's similarities to your government job, ending with "no good deed goes unpunished". I was able to plan for my retirement though, it wasn't really thrust upon me, although I don't anyone is ever REALLY ready. But do enjoy it!! And please consider a visit to see us in lovely CO (where 'skunk' is an air quality more than a roadkill.)

Mike said...


Don't you just love it when they offer you the 'overseas' rate?

Kerrie Hollihan said...

Well written, Bill! Congratulations on taking that next step, and happy writing. What are you going to work on?

Daniel Buchholz said...

Congrats! While I like my job I will always look forward to the day that it is over.