Daily Prompt: Transformation

via Daily Prompt: Transformation

In 2006, I started the biggest transformation of my life to date.  On September 1 of that year, I retired from my career of 32 years.  Earlier in the day, I had been out-briefed and my security clearance suspended. That day, as I left the building for the last time, I turned in my building pass and suddenly, I was no longer an employee.   It was an odd feeling.  I was 51 years old.

The day had been coming for a while.  Months back, one day when my boss and I were lamenting about the day.  She said that she would like another job, and I said I wanted to retire.  I had not spoken that out loud until that day.  The previous years had worn me out.  I spent 4 years trying to manage under another lady boss that resented other women, and got her kicks out of humiliating people.  She attempted to do that to me, I didn’t allow it and after that, I was treated like I didn’t exist.  It wore on me.  Then finally she left and I was asked by the new boss to become the acting Deputy Director of our agency, while she was the acting as Director.  I liked this new boss personally, but she was high maintenance.  My husband, 4 years retired, was anxious for me to retire.

I had to apply to retire early, and in July, my request was approved. My husband was happy, but I wondered what I had done.  I liked my co-workers, I liked my job, although I knew I would have to move on at some point.  And there was the problem – I couldn’t think of where I wanted to go.

The first two weeks after I retired, I felt like I was on vacation.  It’s a wonderful sense of freedom.  But by the 3rd week, I  realized that this was my new reality.  One thing no one realizes, until they retire, is that the natural social life that we participate in, in the workplace, is gone when you are retired.  But worse than that, I realize how deeply tired I was from a couple of years of 14 hour days in my last job.  It took me 6 months to get enough rest.  The second big transition is when I realized that I was no longer my job.  People no longer listened to me because I was an “expert”.  There was no work to talk about.  So I had to develop interests that I had never had time to do before.  I took a drawing class and found art, and it was later a life line when I moved to Alabama where I knew no one, but was able to find a class.

I’m now retired 10 years and I wonder if my old colleagues would recognize me.  I’m much more relaxed, more patient (well, most of the time) and I’m more creative.  The transformation from working to retired is complete; but as I have found, I no more get one transformation accomplished, then their is another – going from my middle years to my senior years.  But that is the subject for another time.

Until next time, Elsie








On Waiting….and waiting

My pet peeve is waiting, particularly at the doctor’s office.  It’s like an appointment is a mere suggestion, instead of a time when the doctor and the patient will actually connect.  How many times have you walked into a waiting room and it is filled to capacity?  Now you know that all of those people could not have an appointment at the same time.  So you try to figure out how long the longest patient has been waiting.  I don’t know about you, but I get a pain in my head when I hear that that the longest waiting patient has been waiting over an hour.  You can go to the receptionist and ask about the wait time, but usually everyone else in the room has already done this, so prepare to have your head snapped off.

Last week I had a doctors appointment.  There was no one in the waiting room.  I was surprised, but I falsely took this for a good sign.  Although my appointment was at 2, it was 2:30 before I was summoned to the examining room.  So far, I had not seen a soul leaving, and since I could see down the hall behind the door, no one moving anywhere.  But back to me.  I was deposited into a room where a Physician’s Assistant dutifully typed my information into a laptop and took my vitals.  Having found that I was still alive, I was led to another examining room.  Since this was a gynecologist, I expected to be told to change into the gown…. but no.  I was left sitting there for another half hour.  I did see the doctor walk down the hall, but that was it.  He finally came in and proceeded to ask me all the same questions that the physician’s assistant had dutifully recorded. I was tempted to comment on his bright orange shirt and matching bow time, but it was all business and soon we were onto the exam.  The sum total of this visit — 2 HOURS!!  And I never did see another patient.

I have noticed that doctor’s office will play with your mind.  After you have sat in the waiting room with the other patients for a while, you are then summoned and the staff takes your vitals.  Sometimes I have been returned to the waiting room, but they must have figured out that this only irritates patients more.  Instead they take you to an examining room and you think to yourself that you are finally making progress.  The door is closed and when you look around, you see there are magazines in the examining room.  Hmmm, someone thought that you might be spending more time here, so they left reading material. Not a good sign.  I think there is a minimum wait for 20 minutes in the examining room.  I was once in an examining room for so long, I honestly thought they had forgotten about me, freezing my butt off in a paper gown.  Did they go home?  I stuck my head out of the examining room to make sure that I didn’t get locked in for the night!

Yesterday I accompanied my husband to his eye exam.  This was supposed to be a short visit, yet we spent 20 minutes in the waiting room and another 30 waiting for the Dr. to show up in the examining room.  Our total – 1 Hour, for a “short” appointment.  The only thing that was short was the time he saw the doctor – that was less than 5 minutes.

I understand that there emergencies; but when you have a doctor that is consistently late there can’t be that many emergencies.  It makes me think that one of two things – that the office staff has no idea how to run a schedule, or that the doctor is so obsessed with money, he is double or triple scheduling patients.  As if the patients time is not valuable. I mean, what could patients  possibly have to do rather than sitting around a waiting room for the doctors convenience?  I have, at times, left an appointment.  I think 15 minutes past my scheduled time is reasonable.  I don’t leave quietly, without comment.  I let the office staff know I am leaving and why; that my time is just as valuable as the doctor’s. Have I ever gotten a call back or an apology?  Hell no!  It’s as though I have broken some unbreakable rule.  The staff is insulted that I would dare question the wait.  How obnoxious!

At this point you are probably wondering whether I ever  speak to the doctor about the wait, given it is his practice.  Well, I have, but I have never gotten much more than “sorry about that” or “I’m here now!”  (and if you are having a procedure, you may want to think carefully about this, because pain is a great equalizer).  One time I was seeing an orthopedist.  I waited one hour in the waiting room, and another hour in the examining room.  So you can imagine how I was feeling when one of his Fellows came in the door and asked me how it was going.  Well, I told him and he jumped back like a scaled cat.  He got the doctor immediately, but the doctor was considerably calmer and didn’t say a word while I let him know what I thought about the wait.

If I ever find a doctor that runs his practice on time, I  would be so grateful.  Even my dermatologist runs late and I actually like him.

Until next time, Elsie






Daily Prompt: Breakthrough

via Daily Prompt: Breakthrough

A few years ago, I took everything that mattered to me and flung it out like I was tossing dice onto the pavement.  I was restless and unhappy and I didn’t know how to fix  what was wrong.  Flinging my life, as I knew it, away did not change anything.  I became deeply depressed and confused.  I would like to say that drove me back to therapy, but it didn’t, but by chance I found a therapist.  My husband and I thought we would try couple’s counseling, but the therapist clearly saw that I was the one that needed the help.  Thus began my adventure to have a breakthrough and find myself.  It wasn’t the first time I had tried – other therapists, but no real breakthrough. I was the product of an alcoholic mother and an enabling father.  It left me with a deep seeded anger that fueled my career and a lack of compassion for myself.  That didn’t change for years.  I kept things from these other therapists and they insisted that I feel emotions beyond the anger,  that just weren’t there.

So with a new therapist, we explored my life in great detail.  And after a year and half, I had the breakthrough.  I let go of the anger of my young life.  My depression lightened and I became functional again.  A few months later, I would become depressed again, but it didn’t last as long and I knew what it was about.  Because it was time that I faced up to myself. I used to say that I was the only one that had to live with me forever. But I know now that is no longer true.


Daily Prompt: Test

via Daily Prompt: Test

The word test probably makes you remember being in high school or college, studying for a test, sweating over a test, hoping you passed the test.  Or maybe you remember your driving test – your moist palms because you wanted to pass it so badly, and how hard it is to drive when you know someone is observing and passing judgement on your driving.

But there are other kinds of tests – tests of character, tests of trustworthiness, test of your ethics.  When they happen, you may not realize that you are being tested.  You may be unaware that there is a line in the sand and once you cross it, you may not be able to go back.  The day you have to stand up and defend yourself, the day that you’ve been told a secret that is so juicy that you almost wish the other person had not told you.  The day when you have to make the choice between covering over your very bad mistake or owning up to it, knowing that your job may hang in the balance.

We are told when we are children that  we must not lie, cheat or steal.  And when you are a child, it is so easy to see the world in black and white, good and bad.  But then you become an adult and it is not so clear anymore.  It may be as simple as leaving work early, when no one will notice you are gone.  It may be a complex as owning up to the mistake that will cost your company millions.  Remember when you were a child and whined to your parents – “but everyone is doing it”, and your parents asked you “if everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you do that too?”  Too bad it is not that simple once you are an adult.  Sometimes it is one step at a time and suddenly you are jumping off the cliff, but you notice that no one else is jumping.  Your character, your trustworthiness and your ethics are being tested every day, and if you keep all of that in tact, will you be able to live with the consequences.  It could go either way – you keep your job and take a baby step away from what you know is right; or you own the moment and perhaps feel the satisfaction of standing on your principles.

And suddenly, that test you didn’t study for, or the test of your driving ability doesn’t seem so bad, does it?


Daily Prompt: Facade

via Daily Prompt: Facade

I once worked with a woman who used to tell me about her wonderful life.  That she and her husband were deeply in love and raising twins.  That they were restoring an old Victorian in a very chic part of town.  That they had married for love, after he had been divorced for a number of years. That she was just coming into the workforce again, now that the kids were in school.  Everything in her life was blissful and everyone was so happy.

A year later, I was sharing an office with this woman’s husband.  Before my arrival, he always kept the blinds closed because he was hung over.  He took his briefcase with him every day to lunch, and would come back sleepy and smelling of alcohol.  He said that he was still married when he met her,  and his 1st wife was pregnant.  He told his first wife he wanted a divorce immediately after she gave birth.  And he was proud that he flew below the radar and never paid child support.  That he undertook the relationship with wife two, who was working in a Senator’s office, because he thought she had money.  That he had no health insurance when the twins were born, and when the hospital insisted that he made arrangements for payment before discharging wife 2 from the hospital, he told them to keep her and keep the babies, because he had no money.   That the Victorian house was falling apart because there was no money to fix it up.  One day he showed up at work with a deep cut across his face.  He said that he had been teaching a woman to play pool and her boyfriend took exception.

Funny how different their stories were about the same marriage.  She was busy maintaining the façade of a happy family, and he, knowing that I knew his wife, was probably hoping I would tell her what he told me and she would divorce him.

Funny how everyone’s life seems so perfect until you look behind the façade.