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When I first joined this department, I was relatively young, just learning my specialty. I was told by my boss that, although I had teaching experience and advanced education, my co-workers had years of priority ahead of me and I should walk softly and speak humbly or, preferably, not at all. My time, she said, would come when I was the senior person in the unit, to speak up and lead the pack.

For years I tried to follow this advice, deferring to greater age and longevity, agreeing when I could with policy, keeping fairly quiet when the lack of management skills were leading us to poor decisions, squawking only when imminent danger to persons or property loomed. I trusted that my time would come, as predicted.

Now I am the most senior person in my position, with years of experience behind me. I developed the protocols for the software we use; I have seen good managers and idiots come and go--and come and stay.

Now they tell me I should step humbly aside and let the younger employees step up to the plate, that they have energy and fresh ideas to offer. Let them have their turn in the sun. I have been asked when I will retire; I have been told that there is someone ready to move into my office. I have actually been pressured to call it a day, throw in the towel [insert other metaphors here]. The perks are for the younger ones, the fair-haired boys of summer.

Say what?? How did I flip from inexperienced chickie-pooh to superannuated old lady with nothing in between? Could it have been those years I was in the trenches for the good of the company when I should have been kissing up and making nice, learning to play golf and attending all the social affairs? Silly me; it's all my fault.

Guess what. I like my job and I'm good at it. I'll retire when I'm ready and not a minute before.

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