Old Woman Working

man with briefcase walking away from the camera
Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

I’ve returned to the work world just as many of my peers are about to retire and leave it behind. It’s both harder and more rewarding than I anticipated.

The first question people ask is, Why go back?

The simple answer is money. House payments and health insurance are the bulk of that. But the more complicated answer includes things like socialization and self-discipline.

I’d been managing an RV park for some 6 years as part of a rent to own agreement that fell through two years ago. I had avoided “real” work (with my husband’s blessing) due to some bad experiences that led to panic attacks anytime I even thought of looking for a job.

Fortunately, a friend had an opening at her lab and encouraged me to apply, but I still had to go through the process. For the first time in 9 years I went for a job interview, and got the job doing data entry and a few other things.

The job was a temp to hire in three months, but the company decided not to hire me and the other person brought in after all. After 10 months. I didn’t miss the hour commute. Heck, commutes were one of the reasons I left Seattle 16 years ago! This one was shorter but much crazier.

inside a crowded coffee shop
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

After a few more months of unpacking at the new place, I tried again. Something different. How about a coffee shop?

That lasted two weeks. What was a fun place to spend time as a customer turned out to be a shade of chaos behind the counter. Most of the staff are young and in college. Many don’t comprehend the impact on others when they don’t feel like working that day. But it was mostly me, in that I found myself on sensory overload.

I realized it the day I was on the drive-thru and couldn’t hear the customers order over the headset. There was another conversation going on over the headset at the same time, plus the blender behind me and the conversation at the counter. The others didn’t seem to have that problem. Perhaps it’s a generational thing. Perhaps it’s because I’ve lived relatively quietly for the last 20 years. I liken it to going from living in a monastery to babysitting at Chuck E. Cheese for a birthday party. I left on good terms.

After the holidays, I went back to the temp agency I used 2 years ago and tried again.

It was different this time. Since I wasn’t processing for a particular job, we went back through my work history, I did the skills again, and we got to know each other better. That helped take a lot of the stress off. About a week later, she called me on a job best described as an administrative assistant.

Originally, I was to interview with their HR person in 2-1/2 weeks. Instead, I got a call to do a phone interview with her in two days. I had just bought a suit for interviewing, so to psych myself up, I wore the blouse and put on makeup and earrings for the phone interview. It helped keep the nerves under control. Then I was scheduled to meet with my prospective boss two days later, and got the job.

It has turned out to be a wonderful fit!

The office is small and quiet, except for a weekly meeting that brings in about 16 people. Otherwise it averages about five. I like everyone I’ve met so far, and haven’t had to deal with any drama queens.

Stack of file folders
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I’m currently organizing and archiving documents from the last 4 years, but will be training to back up the two clerks in the office.

I have missed having face-to-face social interaction with people, and this is filling that gap without overwhelming me.

That’s the wonderful part.

The hard part is my body protesting getting up early (I’m an owl by nature.) I’m also feeling the osteo-arthritis that has begun to affect my fingers. And I am so tired when I get home, it’s hard to get anything done there on a weeknight.

But I anticipate getting adjusted to the schedule once I get past the whole time change thing. And this will also force me to get more organized at home once the fatigue levels out. I’ve learned that I’m not the most self-disciplined person. When I have lots of time, it’s too easy to put things off, spend more time reading or watching TV than doing what needs to be done.

It feels good to be contributing to the household financially again. I just have to allow myself a little time to get new routines set up. Yes, this “old woman” is glad to be back at work!

laptop with pencil cup and signboard that says you've got this
Yes, I do! Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

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