T.Lee’s Life Story – Prologue
Whenever an event happens that is so important to the world that it may happen only once in a person’s lifetime, American newspapers will often describe this type of event as "The (news) Story of a Lifetime!" For this blog, I have chosen this title, half in seriousness and half in jest, because this blog is about my entire life from start to finish, for the most part. In this blog I am going to reflect on my life and describe how I got to where I am today. I hope that you find this blog both entertaining and educational.
T.Lee’s Life Story – Chapter 1, My Childhood
Let’s start out by first defining what I mean by childhood. A person’s childhood may refer to different age ranges depending on the focus of the conversation. In terms of maturity, I don’t consider a person to be a mature adult until he or she is at least 25 years old. However, by American law, a person is considered to be an adult at age 18. So, within the context of this blog, I am going to consider my childhood period to extend from birth until 18 years old.
T.Lee’s Life Story – Chapter 2, My College Life
In Chapter 1, you learned that I grew up under humble circumstances and that my parents were poor and uneducated. Nevertheless, my parents provided my brothers and me the basic necessities of life, and we never went to bed hungry. Though uneducated, my parents fully understood the value of education and had always impressed upon us kids that we had to go to college if we wanted to have a better life than they had had. My hometown was small and had no colleges or universities. That meant I had to leave home to get my education. So, where was I to go to college and how was I going to pay for it? I had just graduated from high school, I had no job skills, I had a car but no money, and it was time for the bird to leave the nest to see if his little baby wings could keep him from falling to the ground.
T.Lee’s Life Story – Chapter 3, My Navy Life
Chapter 3 begins my Navy years. I have just graduated from college with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electrical Engineering. I am 22 years old and just starting to consider myself a man at this stage in my life…but not quite. I still have no real, adult working experience yet, but I am about to change all that. Or perhaps, it is about to change me. I am standing in Nashville, Tennessee, outside my college campus. I am done with school. My life is finally about to begin, after 16 years of being a lowly, dependent student. In my hands are official orders from the U.S. Navy telling me that I am now an officer in the United States Navy (USN) and that I must report to Connecticut.
T.Lee’s Life Story – Chapter 4, Westinghouse
Continuing my saga, I have just left the Navy and accepted my first civilian job with Westinghouse Electric Company. It is August, 1980, and I have moved to Zion, Illinois, to work in the Westinghouse Nuclear Training Center (WNTC). I am an expert in Navy nuclear power technology but a novice in commercial nuclear power plant technology, so guess what is coming next? That’s right, more school! Good Lord, does learning ever stop?
T.Lee’s Life Story – Chapter 5, Working as an Itinerant Contractor
Let’s see where we are on my timeline. Chapter 5 begins that part of my life when I began “renting” myself out for hire on an hourly contract basis, usually for one year at a time. Doing this kind of work is called “contracting”. Due to the short-term nature of some of the contracts, I moved a lot when I was contracting. Every year or two, I would take a job (new contract) in a new location. Let’s see where my contracting jobs took me in this chapter. I began in South Carolina, then went to Tennessee, then to New Jersey, then to Maine, and finally to Louisiana.
T.Lee’s Life Story – Chapter 6, Nuclear Power Plant Site
Recall that a utility is a company that owns a nuclear plant. Headhunters do NOT own nuclear plants. As a contractor, I worked for headhunters. In this chapter, I will take a job as a permanent employee working directly for a utility at their nuclear plant. Nuclear plants are easily recognizable by the tall, dome-shaped buildings. The nuclear reactors are inside these buildings, which are called containment buildings.
T.Lee’s Life Story – Chapter 7, Non-Nuclear Work
In April 2003, at age 50, I decided it was a good time to change careers. For the first time in my life, I was unemployed (for an extended amount of time), and I have to admit that it felt good not having to get up early every morning to go to work. I took this opportunity to go back to college and, in August of 2005, I earned a master’s degree in Computing Technology in Education. This degree was a blend of computer technology and the field of education. My first extended unemployment period in my life seemed to fly by, passing in the blink of an eye. At age 55, I landed my first non-nuclear job as a college professor, and I taught technical, college-level, computer courses for a little over a year. The pay was very small compared to my previous nuclear pay. I needed more money than that to survive, so I moved on to a higher-paying job as a database report writer at a Florida county school district headquarters building. The pay was more than my college professor salary had been but was still only half of my previous nuclear job salary.
T.Lee’s Life Story – Chapter 8, Westinghouse
Chapter 8 of my life brought me full circle. When I left the US Navy in 1980, I began my professional civilian nuclear career with Westinghouse. After working at Westinghouse for 10 years, I quit Westinghouse in 1990 to do contracting work for higher wages. In 2010, 20 years later, circumstances caused me to return to Westinghouse once again. My second stint at Westinghouse is what this chapter is about.
T.Lee’s Life Story – Chapter 9, Contracting
At the end of Chapter 8, I quit Westinghouse to return to the contracting world. Chapter 9 discusses my contract jobs after leaving Westinghouse.
T.Lee’s Life Story – Chapter 10, Retirement
This post will describe the final chapter of my life — my retirement — the inevitable end that we all come to sooner or later. At age 65, I became eligible for and enrolled in a government-subsidized medical/health insurance program called Medicare. My wife had some good fortune in the stock market with Tesla stock, so I was able to retire at age 66 with all my major debts paid off, except for one house mortgage, which was being paid for by a renter. So it looks like at this point that I have enough of a nest egg to make it to the end of my life, I think.