A Quarter Century is a Long Time

An increasingly unusual part of my career was that I spent 25 years at one company.  By and large, people just don’t stay at one job that long anymore.  When the executive assistant who was organizing my office-wide retirement reception was putting together the email invite, she quizzed me about what life was like at my company 25 years ago when I was hired in April 1988.  As I described to her the working environment — no desktop computers, no email, no voice mail, no cell phones, letters typed in triplicate with carbon copies on typewriters, it made me realize how much has happened, both in the world and in my personal life, in 25 years.

When the email invite went out describing the primitive conditions of my early days, it sounded like I was some creature from the Cretaceous Period, or that we sat around throwing coal on the fire during the cold winter months.   Case in point, the summer intern in our department is 20 years old, which meant that she was BORN five years AFTER I started at the company.  And just to rub things in, she told me all about a cruise she was going on to celebrate her mother’s 50th birthday.  After putting this all in context,  it was horrifying to realize that the intern’s MOTHER is younger than me….and that she and many of the analysts in our office missed, for example, the entire disco era.

Just for fun, and to embrace my artifact-ness, I decided to do some research on the internet (which also wasn’t around when I started) to see what was happening in early 1988:

  • Ronald Reagan was President. Since then, we’ve had 4 more presidents, 3 of them 2-term Presidents
  • In 1988, the average cost of a new home was $91,000, new car $10,400, gas 91¢/gallon, movie tickets $3.50, postage stamp 24¢, The Cosby Show (TV) and The Rain Man (movie) were most popular that year.
  • For Sports Fans: the Dodgers won the World Series that year and the Lakers won the NBA title (it was a good year for LA fans).  [Maybe the Dodgers will do it again this year?!] Since then, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won 6 championships, and Kobe and the Lakers won 5 championships
  • Some of the world events and inventions that occurred during my corporate career:
Break-up of USSR Rodney King riots World Wide Web Cell phones
Tiananmen Square Space shuttle Columbia disaster Digital Cameras iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad
3 wars: Gulf War in Kuwait, War in Iraq, War in Afghanistan 9/11Hurricane Katrina TVO, HDTV WiFi
Northridge Quake Great Recession Google Maps/GPS Laser Eye Surgery

Not to mention all that happened to me personally in 25 years.  My husband and I got married two months after my hire date.  My son was born my fourth year and he’s now almost 21 and halfway through college.   All four of our parents and my stepson passed away. I broke my foot TWICE.  I learned the Macarena (not related to the broken foot). I had been an employee of my company almost half my life.  This was the period when almost every major event of my adult life took place, and when some of my greatest achievements, happiness, sadness and disappointments occurred.

Its almost scary how fast time flew by…and sobering to realize that I may only have one more 25-year chunk left.  That’s why I am trying to be purposeful and conscientious about the choices I make, and how I spend my time these next 25 years.  But not so conscientious that I don’t take risks and occasionally throw caution to the wind.  After all, unlike my retirement celebrations, my next “funeral “ will be the real one…and I won’t be there to hear what people say about me. J

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