Thursday, August 20, 2009
Who's going to fill their shoes?
A group of us are retiring in late April. These are colleagues that I've worked with for many years--ever since I started my professional career. Their leaving is going to leave a void of a kind here. Many of the newer staff probably don't know who these people are or their contributions.
I'm equally guilty of not knowing who many of the new people are. When we were all just hired out of graduate school and full of self-importance, the night oil would be burning in the building. I would think nothing about staying until 9 or 10 PM to work on data, manuscripts, or other projects. My wife and I would also devote much of our weekend to working in the lab. That lasted for about ten years for me. Even on those days that we didn't come back in after dinner or on the weekends, we would talk about our work, discussing science and how to do it better.
The working of a lot of extra hours ended when we built our house in the country. We were no longer just five minutes from work but 40 minutes away. Yet, we continued to talk about work, what was wrong with the administration, and what our solution was. This was all pre-recovery talk. And sometimes we would have arguments with each other over differing views. We were driven in so many ways.
In the last three years, my wife and a bunch of "old timers" from work have retired. Their void has been filled with new Ph.D's who put away their pens and shut down their computers at the end of the day, not to return until the next morning.
Personally, I think that their approach is healthy. At this job, we all spend a lot of extra hours doing field work that revolves around the tides, or being on research vessels for several weeks at a time. It's part of being a scientist. So, it's okay with me to live a life filled with other things than work.
When my contemporaries and I retire, there will be other fresh faces to fill our shoes. I hope that they are filled with passion for the work that they do. But I also hope that they have a balanced life that is filled with hobbies, family, relaxation, and simple enjoyment of being. I'm grateful for those things in my life today.