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I’m writ­ing this on Sunday, July 24. In exact­ly one week, I will be enter­ing a strange new phase of life in which every­thing I do will be tinged with a bit­ter­sweet real­iza­tion. More about that shortly. 

I should explain that I work in IT at a large Kentucky pub­lic school dis­trict (not Clark County). Anyone who works in edu­ca­tion knows that the school year cal­en­dar rules our lives. So many events hap­pen once, and only once, per year. Summer vaca­tion, the first day of the new school year, fall break, the hol­i­days, spring break, grad­ing peri­ods, test­ing peri­ods, grad­u­a­tions, and so on. In IT espe­cial­ly, we have many process­es and events that take place on a reg­u­lar sched­ule each year. 

And so, over the course of my 28+ years in this career, I have always marked time by these annu­al events. And it was dur­ing a sum­mer pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment event two weeks ago that I came to the real­iza­tion that I was about to enter my final year in this job. 

About five years ago, my wife and I — she works for the same school dis­trict as I — made a deci­sion and set the dates for our retire­ment. I decid­ed I would con­clude my career on August 31, 2023. At the time, that seemed a long way off. 

In fact, the inter­ven­ing years sort of got away from me. First, there was the whole COVID-19 thing, which turned the edu­ca­tion world — and the IT world — upside-down. Next came fig­ur­ing out how to get back to “nor­mal” — what­ev­er that means. 

Then a cou­ple of weeks ago, I looked at the cal­en­dar and real­ized my career was near­ing its final year. 

I’ve nev­er been one to “watch the clock” — whether that means antic­i­pat­ing the dai­ly quit­ting time, or anx­ious­ly look­ing for­ward to retire­ment. I am for­tu­nate to work for a great orga­ni­za­tion with skilled and ded­i­cat­ed col­leagues. I tru­ly love my work and enjoy every day. Mostly. 

On good days, quit­ting time comes and goes before I even real­ize it. 

There’s this thing that edu­ca­tion “vet­er­ans” (read: old-timers) like me do in the work­place. We ask each oth­er the same ques­tion, “So, how much longer have you got?” Meaning, how much longer until you can retire. 

Until a few years ago, I did­n’t think about it much. I’d usu­al­ly just shrug when asked. As I said, I enjoy my work and find it incred­i­bly reward­ing. I thought I might keep work­ing well past my 27-year require­ment for full retire­ment. I thought I may work until I’m 65 or even 67. I could have retired a year ago, at 59. 

Two things made me re-eval­u­ate my stance on work­ing well beyond my retire­ment window. 

The first was the arrival of my grand­son eight years ago. The sec­ond was the begin­ning of my sec­ond career as a writer. My grand­son is grow­ing up way too fast, and I def­i­nite­ly want to have more time to spend with him before he gets too old to want to hang out with me. 

And my dab­bling at writ­ing news­pa­per columns has trans­formed into run­ning a non­prof­it e‑zine. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Suffice it to say that I have no fear of find­ing myself retired with noth­ing to do. 

So the date is set, and now I enter that strange new world where every­thing I do on an annu­al basis will be done for the last time. 

In a cou­ple of weeks, I’ll attend my last con­vo­ca­tion. That will start the “final year tour.” I know it will fly by, and I’m not going to hur­ry it. But when the day arrives, I will look for­ward to spend­ing more of my time devot­ed to WinCity News & Views. 

And to my grand­son. If he’ll let me. 

  • Pete Koutoulas

    Pete is an IT pro­fes­sion­al work­ing in Lexington. Formerly of Campton, he and his wife have lived in Winchester since 2015. Pete is a for­mer week­ly news­pa­per pub­lish­er and for­mer colum­nist for the Winchester Sun. These days, when not work­ing he can often be found on his back porch read­ing or writ­ing, in the back­yard tend­ing to his toma­to plants, or put­ter­ing around in his garage or work­shop. Reach Pete at pete@wincitynews.org.