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Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (Bob Dylan)

This website features Allan Lund's riveting story of returning to full-time federal employment in 2008 with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in Washington DC after retiring from the U.S. Treasury in 2005. Allan did not think twice before accepting a position with VA. Was it a good decision? The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.

Saved from Oblivion - Doing and Shuddering

Every day I go for a walk after lunch. I walk in Lafayette Square across from the White House. I pass by the Treasury Annex Building adjoining Lafayette Square where I first went to work for the Bureau of Government Financial Operations in February 1976. I glance over at the Treasury Building (1500 Pennsylvania Avenue) where I spent countless hours and proceed up Pennsylvania Avenue past the White House to my favorite structure - the Old Executive Office Building (now the Eisenhower Building). I pass the Blair-Lee House and the Renwick Gallery before looping around to the Decatur House (built in 1819), the Hay-Adams Hotel, and St. John's Episcopal Church (built in 1816). I make my way back to the Veterans Affairs Building where I work. Life is good except when it isn't:

The Horror of the Shedding Sweater Vest

I had decided on a return-to-work uniform. I would wear a white or blue dress shirt, tan pants, a sweater vest, and a necktie. I purchased several sweater vests (red, light blue, dark blue, and black). I had never worn a sweater vest but that's what a 63 year-old man should wear I thought.

The first day at work I wore the black sweater vest with a white shirt. I thought I looked quite professional. After an extensive orientation session, I met my new supervisors and fellow workers. Towards the end of the day I got a good look at myself in a rest room mirror. The black sweater vest had shed all over my white shirt. I looked like a jerk. What a first impression! I was horrified. Later I would switch to Cutter & Buck sweater vests (no shedding). But the damage had been done. I was toast.

A Frightening Encounter in the Canteen

The Obama administration had just come into office and former Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki was the new Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. One day I was sitting at a table in the Canteen (VA's cafeteria) when I noticed that Secretary Shinseki was eating a late lunch at a table close to mine. After he finished eating he visited with people at nearby tables slowly making his way towards my table.

I wondered what I would say to him. I thought I would tell him that I was a Vietnam veteran like himself. He would probably ask me what I did in Vietnam and what unit I had been with. I would have had to say that I drove a jeep at night picking up little pieces of paper called MROs (material request orders) and that I had been with the First Logistical Command made famous by its patch that looked like a leaning outhouse. What would he have thought of me since he probably spent his time in Vietnam doing heroic things? Fortunately, just as he was about to reach my table he turned away and left the Canteen. What a frightening experience. It was a close encounter that I will never forget.

The Unknown Unknowns

When I started at VA I knew there were a lot of things I didn't know. What would my boss be like? Would I have an office? Would people be friendly? Would I be able to do whatever I wanted to do with absolutely no accountability? I just didn't know.

Some things you just have to learn the hard way. For example, during the first month I would push the button on the elevator for the first floor when I was going to leave the building. I heard people snickering when I did this but I didn't understand. I finally realized that the elevator always stops on the first floor before going to the floors below or above. Pushing the first floor button is like saying I'm an ignorant rookie. How humiliating!

Now I'm aware that all around me are experienced VA people who know things I don't know and I don't even know what things they know that I don't know. It's just a scary thing. At least now I'm able to snicker at people who push the first floor button.

The Lady with the Thousand Yard Stare

I take Metrorail to my job at VA. The McPherson Square Station is very near the entrance to the VA Building so I use that station. When I began working at VA I would usually buy a Washington Post newspaper upon exiting from the station every morning. Sitting in a chair right next to the newspaper vending machine was a lady covered with a blanket staring into space. I would say "good morning" to her while inserting my quarters into the vending machine and she would say "good morning" to me.

After a few days I noticed that people were giving her money so I started to give her money. Further observation revealed that she was really getting a lot of money - she would be eating and/or smoking and the money was rolling in. She really didn't need my dollar every day.

I started to resent the fact that I was in effect paying $1.75 for a daily newspaper so I stopped buying the Washington Post in the mornings. I would try to sneak by her when she was counting her stash or lighting up. This worked for awhile until she began watching for me while holding a Washington Post to give me. (I presume she had acquired the newspaper by having someone who paid 75 cents take a few.) I would pay her a dollar for the newspaper figuring I had just saved 75 cents.

Now I have to buy the Washington Post every day whether I want to or not. The lady with the thousand yard stare controls me. What gives me the willies is the thought that she may have planned this all along - from the moment I first spoke to her, my fate was sealed! I'm considering wearing a disguise to get past her - maybe I'll put a blanket over my head and just stare straight ahead. I could use the extra income.

About the Publisher and Contact Information

The publisher of The Rehired Annuitant Report is Allan Lund (pictured below).

Postscript: Allan worked at VA from December 7, 2008 until May 23, 2009. He is now fully retired and enjoys playing golf. You are invited to visit his other websites one of which describes his experiences learning to play golf ( while the other website reports on accounting standard setting in the federal government (  Allan is a retired accountant. (See pictures on page 2.)

Please email comments about The Rehired Annuitant Report to

Allan Lund

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