Thursday, February 25, 2010
February 25 in History
It was two years ago today, February 25, 2008, that I walked out of my US Fish and Wildlife Service office in suburban Washington DC and never looked back.
My normal work hours were 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during 9 days of every 10 day pay period. However in late 2007 I started sneaking out five minutes earlier every day each week. My plan was that by the time I retired I wouldn't even have to show up because everyone would think it was normal that I wasn't there.
By the time February 25, 2008, arrived I was leaving work at 2:30 p.m. and nobody paid attention. This was good.
At about 2:30 p.m., right now as I write this in fact, I told the guy at the front desk that I was leaving for a dentist's appointment and "I'll be back later." I walked out the front door and never came back. I wondered if someone would eventually notice that I was gone.
Federal personnel regulations state that nobody can take annual leave or sick leave during their last two-week period of employment. My formal day of retirement was March 1, but I left a few days earlier. I had signed out for "sick leave" for the four days I was out of there before I could officially leave. My thinking was "what are they going to do - fire me?" So I left.
On my last day in the office I wore a coat and tie which should have been an indication to many that something was up.
On leaving our building I said goodbye to Stan the rent-a-cop at the front desk and told him I would "be back later." The only people I told about my retirement were my supervisor, our administrative officer and our administrative assistant. Nobody else had to know.
From my office I walked south to the Ballston Metro station entrance (pictured above). There I took off my wrist watch, my coat, my tie, my dress shoes and my dress socks. I bundled them all up and threw them in a garbage receptacle.
I walked down into the Ballston Metro station for the last time wearing flip flops that I brought to work in my carry on bag.
The next afternoon February 26, I boarded the Amtrak Auto Train at Lorton Station in suburban Virginia and rode the train to Sanford Florida (near Rat World) and then headed south from there.
When I left Washington DC during the frigid afternoon of February 26 I was wearing shorts, a Jimmy Buffett t shirt, and flip flops.
Since that fateful day I have not worn 1) a wrist watch, 2) a coat, 3) a tie, 4) long pants, 5) underwear, 6) socks or 7) dress shoes. In fact the only close-toed shoes I've worn in two years are running shoes for when I go to the gym to work out.
My Federal Service was exactly 31 years, 6 months and zero days. I remember the first day I worked for the Service thinking that retirement was such a distant abstract concept and then what seemed like a couple days later there it was.
Life is much better this way.