Author: Jenny Abbott

I hear there’s a new guy that calls himself “The Automatic Chicken”. Some twenty-something from Jersey, probably, with more wetware than sense and the unfortunate habit of looking for career opportunities on Craigslist. Most of the new contractors are like that anymore—too reckless or inexperienced to take the job seriously. I’d bet my next paycheck he hasn’t even been out of the suburbs for eight years. I’ve got nerve grafts twice as old as that, for crying out loud.

He’ll last about six months. Four if nobody warned him about the side effects of the anti-Parkinson’s drugs that come with the job.

It’s a shame, really, that more of the old guard is starting to talk about retirement. It’s hard to believe that two months ago, they were bragging about shrapnel wounds, and now they’re shopping around for warmer climates. Honestly, I don’t see the appeal of it. I’d rather be protecting and serving the public than sitting around in Cleveland, waiting to see what I burn through faster, my savings or my replacement cartilage.

Two more years, or a few more retirement announcements, and I’ll be the highest-ranking OD contractor on the West Coast. Budget cuts notwithstanding, though, it would be nice to have the salary to match that, given that tenure’s been hard-won. When the helmet comes off on the job, not everyone’s keen on being reminded that their team lead is female, and, at forty-six, still better hardwired than them.

But yeah, this old-timer isn’t going anywhere. By next spring, when “The Automatic Chicken” is seriously rethinking his career choices, I’ll still be in ordnance disposal and working my way closer to a Captain’s rank. I almost feel sorry for the guy. At least, somebody should fill him in better on the specific occupational hazards that come with the territory. It’s hard to get too attached to your nervous system when it’s overhauled biannually.