Retired CHP janitor still showing up for work

February 15, 2011 8:08:48 PM PST
The U.S. Department of Labor reports the average length of time a U.S. worker stays on the same job is three to five years. So when someone spends more than six decades in the same position, it's pretty remarkable.

At CHP headquarters in San Francisco, the staff has learned to take a certain, shipshape standard for granted. You can see it in the clean counters, the gleaming glass, the spotless floors, and the empty wastebaskets. To find the man responsible just listen for the jingling sound of keys -- keys that Riley Jameison has had for 49 years.

After all the complaints you've heard about pension-greedy state employees, Jameison is the antithesis.

"He has been the longest tenured state employee, as far as we can find from records," said Lt. Dane Lobb.

Sixty-two years in all -- so long, that when Jameison came to work for California, some of the old pictures on the wall hadn't even been taken yet.

"I could have retired 20 years ago, easy," said Jamieson.

"You just don't come across that kind of dedication to the state," said Lobb.

And, at a level we still have yet to reveal, because technically Jameison says, "I'm just here now. I'm off the books and on the retirement books."

Don't get the wrong idea -- Jameison's official retirement date was December 31, 2010. The department held a party, a legendary one by CHP standards, and he walked out the front door. There was just one small complication -- the very next work day, Jameison came back.

"I woke up the next morning, and without knowing anything I was coming in the parking lot," he said.

Maybe it had something to do with the lure of his routine, but Jameison could not endure more than a weekend without missing the home sweet home away from home, filled with the tools of his trade.

"I still haven't turned my keys in, haven't cleaned my locker out," he said.

No sir. Just because a man turns 88, he can still be productive, and that would be Jameison. As much as he would miss the place, he would miss the people even more.

His female co-workers say he would miss them and that he's a "big flirt." To which Jameison responds, "Let them know you're a bachelor."

"Well, he does complain when I put too many paperclips on the floor," joked co-worker Kathleen Patton.

To make his retirement and new volunteer status truly official, the department will throw a major party with all the brass next month. As to how they might further honor Jameison, who knows? His picture has already been up on the wall for years.

"Yeah, I guess when you get so you can get on the wall, you're noticed around this place," he said.

Oh, he's noticed all right, along with how he has lived an object lesson that defines the difference between identity and function. It's not what you do, it's how you do it.

"Well, I think a good day's work is you do the same thing every day and you never have complaints," he said.

Except that someday, they will have to learn to get along without him.


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