T.Lee’s Life Story – Chapter 7, My Non-Nuclear Career Change

Recall that in the last chapter, I had just lost my job at a Florida utility in the nuclear industry. I had been escorted offsite by an armed security guard, which was standard procedure when someone suddenly quits a nuclear utility. After that day, I have never again worked in-house for a utility. My life was starting to get too short to put up with that kind of inhumane treatment. In this chapter, I try to leave the nuclear industry to work in more conventional types of jobs.

So in April of 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. The school district job was very relaxing and all went well for about two and a half years. At that time, my department got a new boss, a female director. It turned out that she was an ex-principal at an elementary school who was about to be sued in court (i.e., a lawsuit) for treating one of her subordinates unfairly, so the school district decided to “promote” her to a new location to remove her from her school so it would look like the district had taken strong action against her. This way they could avoid the lawsuit against her.

Data Warehouse

Lucky me — she suddenly became my boss. She was completely clueless about the type of work my department did. We worked with a data warehouse – essentially a database of other databases. Being an ex-principal, she only cared about taking care of her old principal cronies. She didn’t care about the school students at all. Not only that, she took over and began treating the professional database experts in my department, including me, like we were her elementary school kids, or we were her first-year, inexperienced school teacher flunkies. Just like in my last nuclear job, she expected all of us to say “Yes, ma’am! Right away, ma’am! You are so smart and intelligent, ma’am!” She and I had some run-ins, and there finally came a day when I couldn’t stand to work under her any longer, so I quit the school district and went back into the nuclear field as a contractor, whose salary was double that of my school district salary.  If I’m going to be treated badly, I may as well be paid well for it.

And so this concluded my brief five-year foray into the non-nuclear world of employment. At least I got a master’s degree during that time, so it wasn’t a total waste. Now I was back in the nuclear saddle again, so to speak. However, this time it was as a contractor. Never again would I work for a utility as an in-house employee and be treated with disdain.