My bachelor’s degree is in journalism. I worked for a newspaper for a total of about four years. For most of that time I really liked it; in fact, for a lot of that time I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Since I was a general assignment reporter, I covered almost anything except sports. I covered the rural areas around Augusta, Ga. When you cover things like the school board meeting or a county commission meeting in a small, rural county, you have to be interested in all the things that go on, whether it’s how many teachers will come back next year or who needs their road paved. I found that I had no trouble being interested in those things.
After I left journalism, went back to school at Georgia Tech, and then went to work in Huntsville, I kept the ability to be interested in almost anything. I don’t know whether it was because I had been a reporter, or simply a manifestation of my innate curiosity. In any event, for a long time I remained interested in everything that I worked on.
In the late ‘90’s I transitioned from a full-time employee to an independent contractor. By most people’s standards, my income was pretty good.
Now that I’m retired, our income has dropped significantly. We aren’t starving, but a little extra income would always be welcome. So it was a nice to hear from a former colleague about two weeks ago that his company was looking for resumes for someone to work on a task that would last 10 to 12 weeks. That suited me, since I don’t want to go back to work full time, and the job was pretty much exactly what I spent most of my Huntsville career doing. He said the hourly rate would be good, and then he quoted a couple of numbers that ranged up to about what my hourly rate was at the end. It made sense to send him a resume.
In the meantime, I started thinking.
As a retiree younger than the full Social Security retirement age, I will lose one dollar in Social Security benefits for every dollar I get over a certain amount. When I factored that loss into what I would have made in 10 weeks, the hourly rate no longer seemed so good. And then I started imagining working for a couple of months doing the kind of stuff I had done for so long, and the job itself no longer seemed quite as attractive. I have a lot to do around here, and for some reason, tiling our downstairs bathroom seems more interesting than analyzing optical signatures.
So sometime during the last year since I retired, my ability to be, or become interested in just about anything seems to have diminished. And it seems that my time has become move valuable as well. At least to me.
My friend called about a week ago to tell me that the company with the short-term task had decided to do the work with their own employees, so they wouldn’t need an independent contractor like me. I think the strongest emotion I felt at that time was relief.
It’s possible my old company will need me to do some very short term jobs, jobs that only last a day or so, and that would be nice. But two or three months? I don’t think so.