Friday, August 11, 2006

Sifting Through a Career of Paper

As we get ready to move to our new building in 10 days, I find myself reliving the past 35 years of my working life. It’s like going through a multi-layered archaeological dig of more pages of paper than I could begin to count.

I’ve found some things that definitely bring back memories. There my first personnel action – the one that establishes my salary at $6,938. Contrast that to the paperwork for an award I received earlier this week for $5,000. I suppose that’s what inflation does. Then there’s the memo I wrote in response to my being summarily fired from a job in 1994. "Fired" is probably not the right word. What they often do in the Federal government is just put you aside to rot from lack of anything to do. The two people responsible for this are the only two for whom I have venomous feelings after all these years of work. One is now an SES and the other a retired re-employed annuitant. Neither ever apologized to me for what was an egregious error on their part.

But if it hadn’t been for that unfortunate incident, I would never have ended up in my current job. So perhaps some things happen for the best.

The real challenge is deciding what to keep and what will not be missed. I look at this as an opportunity to get ready to retire now. So from a 4-drawer lateral file that was chock full, I saved exactly 8 folders of information. I hadn’t accessed any of the rest of it for 10 years, so I decided to chuck the whole thing in the dumpster.

In thinking of things I have tossed out over the years, my one and only regret has to do with the massive cleanup of my parents’ house after my father’s death. I threw out a folder of his inventions that I really should have saved. Once it was gone, it was impossible to find it in the humongous garbage heap that resulted from 50 years of never throwing anything away.

More and more I seem to rely on electronic files at work, perhaps saving a few trees. So more often than not, I will be just pitching it out if in doubt. The entire next week will be devoted to getting ready for the big move. They’ve only been talking about a new building since 1972. But it is actually happening. The best news is that the water will be safe to drink, or so they say.


Blogger Kate said... task next year.....maybe I should start now. Our office is moving as well, out of the District to Crystal City...sometime this fall...........(It keeps getting pushed back so not certain). Anyway, I thought when I moved to the condo I had done a personal purge (and I did), but with retirement imminent next year I will need to revisit the purge mode in a big way.


(Interesting///////at least to me////// the characters I had to use for word verification were LYQQQT -- reminds me of liquidate. :-))

5:07 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

You have been at the same company for 35 years? Wow! I'm going into my 6th year and wondering if it has been too long.

I'm a bit of a pack rat myself (although Sofia would say that is being disingenously charitable).

11:25 PM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

I hate moving. Anyway, I started the cleaning things out a couple of years ago and I am still picking at it.

11:59 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kate -- I find that throwing things out brings an odd and satisfying feeling of finality. You may actually enjoy getting ready for your move. The operative word may be SHRED more than LIQUIDATE!

Richard -- Even I gasp when I think it has been 35 years. It seems like just yesterday that I was getting lost on my first day commuting to the office. It's not so much the length of time, but the quality of those years that counts. Excepts for the period from 1988 to 1994, I can say that my career was most satisfying. I have met people who will be friends for life. I have made a difference in the world (working for 15 of those years on projects in developing countries). I have helped launch the biggest survey in the world. Just have the good sense to find something else to do if you find you are not happy in your job.

OL -- Cleaning out is a life-time project. Just as one pile gets eliminated, another has already formed.

9:32 AM  

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