It's the journey, not the destination Mel Curtis's thoughts on a life in the world of photography

Have you Recently Retired?

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I went to the IMA at the University of Washington recently to renew my gym membership. The young woman at the desk took my ID, swiped it and pondered her computer monitor for a moment. She then walked over to another person at the desk and asked him a question, he plugged some numbers in his computer and they chatted briefly. She then came back over to talk to me and asks, “Have you retired recently?”. I mumbled something about kind of, sort of… She went on to say my status was “Separated Employee” and that I should go talk to my department about the situation. I said thank you and left, knowing full well my status was not in question. I was a separated employee, though retired faculty sounded better. I knew it was coming, my appointment was only supposed to be for a year, and that was 6 years ago. Why it took so long to catch up with me, I don’t know. I guess I just wanted to keep telling folks I was affiliate faculty at the University of Washington. I wanted to be part of something big, part of a big club. I wasn’t trying to be dishonest, and until a few days ago I thought I was still part of the club, even though it has been almost 5 years since I taught in Rome for the design department. And now I am just a vendor, which doesn’t feel nearly as important. But then there is nothing important about being an adjunct either. In fact being a vendor pays better and it entails less hard work too. But still, having that card with the word faculty on it seemed to mean something. Besides, it is the best ID photo I have ever had taken of me. But it’s over and I shall remove the ID from my wallet and put in that little box containing all my other out of date IDs and passports. Evidence of another period in my life.

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