A pension is good only if you’re alive to receive it

Of the folks who work on the rail,

I could tell you many a long tale

     But working too long

     And things go just wrong

I’m picking the right time to bail. 

After I had taken care of a patient and told her of my coming change of career plans, she talked about her deceased husband.  He had worked very hard for the railroad for almost forty years and died of a massive heart attack four months before he retired.  A friend of his had died three months before retirement.  She told me she would miss me as her doctor, but she understood my decision.  “You’ve worked hard,” she said, “it’s time for you to enjoy yourself.  Have a good time.”  I asked for, and received, permission to write about what she’d said in my blog.

We’ve known for a long time, observationally, that all work and no play makes Jack a dead boy, but today the AMA daily email news confirmed that working overtime leads to heart attacks and shortens life expectancy.

The patient and I hypothesized that the railroad pays so much overtime because they know that if they work you hard enough you die before you can collect your pension.

I remembered the beginning of my Junior year in high school talking with a Senior, Jimmy Hopkins, who had worked much of the summer for the railroad.  He got straight time for eight hours, time and a half for the second eight hours of the day and double time for the next eight hours. It sounded great at the time.  Now it doesn’t sound so good.

I have a number of railroad employees in my practice and most of them suffer from sleep deprivation.  They are well paid and badly overworked.

I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  While my one-year, thirty-mile non-compete clause ticks I’m having adventure.  I wrote this post on May 15th, but saved it for publication while I’m out hunting moose.


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