30 Years of Work

This month marks 30 years I have been working. A week after my 14th birthday, I went to the nurse’s office at school and applied for my working papers. I was approved. My first job was delivering newspapers in town. One of the stops on my route was a senior citizen building. They all found it novel to have a paper girl instead of a paper boy.

At age 15, I got a job working at McDonald’s. At age 16, I started working 2-3 jobs while in college. I worked 2-3 jobs for over 20 years trying to make ends meet while I was in school. 

In fact, in the 30 years that I have been in the workforce, the only time I have ever been unemployed were those two months back in 2021 when I lost my job in the pandemic. Other than those two months, I have been working for 30 years continuously. 

Many people retire after 20 years or so. I will not have the privilege of retirement. You see, I am not allowed to collect social security due to my student loans. I’ve been paying into the system for 30 years now, but will never be able to collect benefits due to student loans. 

Even though we pay back our student loans, the government refuses to release the debt. So we pay the student loans two or three times over. When we ask for “forgiveness” for student loans, we are not asking for the government to write off unpaid debt. We are asking them to release us from the loans we have already paid back with interest and yet are still paying. Student loans are America’s way of indentured servitude. 

The only way to retire if you have student loans is to try to save money in a 401k. But really, with student loan payments taking 30% of your income, who can save money in a 401k? We are not allowed social security payments for retirement or for disability. I feel terrible for all the people with long covid who are denied disability benefits because they owe student loans. This is how the system works in America.

This year I celebrate 30 years of work in America with no end in sight. Or is there?

Given we are living in a genocide, I am going to be outrageously optimistic and say I am hoping to live to see age 60. The government wants me dead, so trying to live and survive for 16 more years is quite ambitious. However, given the rapid decline in American life expectancy, I feel that age 60 is a reasonable goal. After all, America is doing everything it can to kill off people over age 65 and those with disabilities.

So while I “celebrate” 30 years of working, I am hoping to be able to work for 11 more years. At age 55, I intend to retire and spend 5 years not working before I die at age 60. I think I deserve that. 

Of course, my real goal is to outlive the cats. I need to be able to take care of them and keep them together. Given their current ages, I think my goal of living to see age 60 to outlive them is quite reasonable. 

While student loan payments have been paused, I have been putting my money into my 401k. When I reach age 55, I plan to withdraw all the money and leave the country. Once the cats are gone, my goal is to travel. I will have 5 years to enjoy before I die.

Of course, you know how the best laid plans are always waylaid. This is my optimistic goal. 

After 30 years of work, I can only hope to work 11 more years. It’s possible that death or disability will cut my work life short and I will never experience retirement. I will never be able to travel or visit other countries if America continues on its current downward trajectory.

But today, I celebrate 30 years of work with the thought that I will only work for 11 more years and then can take 5 years of enjoyment before death. This is the best America has to offer. My dream is to outlive the cats and hopefully be able to travel out of country before I die.