Living Out Loud

My Retirement Disaster



In 2020, after 27 years working for the state of North Carolina, I decided to retire. I'd spent seven years as a correctional officer working in a medium security prison while in my twenties, taken a break from state employment and then taken an IT job in the school system for the next 20 years. I was only 55 at the time, but pension eligible. I was coming off having both of my arthritic knees replaced. The world was shutting down because of the pandemic and changes at my job made me unenthusiastic about returning after lockdown. I submitted my paperwork. It was accepted and there I was, 100% without a plan to do anything.


In hindsight, I could have done so many things, established a physical recovery program from my surgeries, started this blog, created a landscaping masterpiece - something. Instead, I kind of went into shock. I started off OK. I renewed my library card, made a detailed "to read" list and got started. I walked occasionally. I kept the house in OK order. I even completed a viewing of Hill Street Blues, something I'd wanted to do since the 80s. But gradually, what I did was sleep. I slept like it was my job. Undoubtably, I sank into a depression marked not so much by sadness but by unconsciousness. I had to set an alarm to wake up in time to cook supper for my wife. Four hours later I would be back in bed. It was zero fun. I knew it wasn't normal but I felt powerless to do anything about it. I found out that I'd had a bout of with the Epstein-Barr virus which kind of precipitated the whole thing. But it had become habitual. Even when my doctor prescribed a stimulant, I still really, really wanted to just sleep. 


Kind of in desperation, I jumped at a chance to take a temporary IT position at the university where my wife works. I would be doing a relatively simple job, deploying replacement computers to staff and faculty. After years of higher level work I knew this would be the equivalent of information technology comfort food. It would take up time, serve a purpose and keep me awake. I went into it enthusiastically and with humility. I enjoyed the interaction with the folks getting the new computers and it seemed that I was getting the chance to meet almost everyone on campus. Three months later, when all of the new laptops were assigned, I was invited to stay on in an end user support role. I jumped at it.


Now I spend my days handing out new keyboards, figuring out printing mysteries and resetting the occasional password. I don't have to touch servers, go to budget meetings or serve on any kind of planning committees. I'm never on call. I get to ride to work and back with my wife and we eat lunch together most days. My job even let me order a new M3 iMac with maxed out RAM and a big ass hard drive. I have no desire to be retired again.