Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

I remember in 1996 as I was preparing to retire from the Marine Corps after 20 years of service, I was told by transition trainers that I would probably have three to five jobs within the first five years after retirement. That was the average for people leaving the service.

I had two jobs: one six-month gap-filler, then the 14-year job as a public administrator. I beat the odds, but now I’m not sure if that was a good thing.

To me, my employment was more than a job. I was working for the city I lived in. I took the job seriously and personally. I worked for my family and my neighbors, for people I saw all around town.

I took pride in everything I was able to accomplish because it was helping improve my community. I felt deep loyalty both to the people I served and to those elected and appointed officials for whom I worked.

But it was an illusion because in the end someone I didn’t even know made a recommendation without consulting me or anyone on my staff, and five people who I thought I knew voted to approve it. My loyalty and dedication was a dim, last-place finisher in the race to reach the “bottom line.”

If this is the “new normal,” a term I am quickly learning to detest, then I am not on board with it. I am an optimist and will always look for the silver lining in the storm cloud.

But I am also a realist and know hard decisions have to be made. There are finite resources but infinite requirements. In most any organization more than 60 percent of costs are personnel-related, and when it comes time to find savings, that’s a big target.

In my opinion, none of that justifies treating people like cattle. It doesn’t justify rewarding good work, loyalty, and dedication with unexplained, impersonal, and generic dismissal, even though that may be the easy way out for those making the decisions.

On a national scale, does it really help the economy to put people out in a depressed economy with no job and few–if any–credible prospects? How does it serve the greater good? It may help someone’s bottom line, but it seems to me it makes the overall problem worse.

Where have all the flowers gone? Where has all the loyalty gone? Where has the humanity gone? When will we ever learn?

Soon, I hope, before it’s too late.

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine, is a regular contributor to PRB and lives in Peachtree City, Ga. Contact him at (678) 350-8642 or e-mail cwo4usmc@comcast.net.

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  4. Get A Leg Up
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