Loss of stature and status can come in many forms; we think too often in terms of financial status, of material belongings, where we live, with whom we associate, and the subtle evaluation of social consciousness in relation to our neighbors, friends and family. But as work constitutes a majority of the time we expend, we often fail to understand the profound impact that we subconsciously place upon the status and standing we perceive within the employment arena. This is closely related to the conceptual viability of bifurcating our “time at work” and “closing the door behind us” when we exit our place of employment, get into the car, and begin the commute home.
More and more, of course, the traditional dichotomy between work and personal life has been destroyed with the intrusive nature of email, smart phones, laptops and the constant need to keep in communication via electronic media. The sanctity of the home life is deteriorating; weekends are merely interludes of a slower pace of work; and Sundays are rarely categorized as days of unreachable separateness.
With all traditional social and employment walls disintegrated, it becomes all the more profoundly insidious when one’s employment is severely impacted by a medical condition.
For Federal and Postal employees who must consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the change from the status of “Federal employee” or “Postal Worker” to one of “Disability annuitant” can have a devastating psychological impact. For, in the end, it is not merely a change of status and stature; it is a profound alteration of a way of life, arrived at through habituation without thought, mindlessly embracing the insidiousness of technological intrusions which we never asked for and rarely sought.
The negative view for the Federal and Postal Worker is to myopically observe this profound change in sadness; the positive outlook is to have a fresh perspective, and to actually take the opportunity to use the time for rehabilitation of one’s health, perhaps just to be able to — for a brief moment in the history of one’s life — stop and smell the proverbial flower on the way out of the office door.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire