I get it. I work in an amazing place, and I have a good job. Since people found out I'm eligible for early retirement, I don't blame them for wondering when the position will be vacant. However, it's hard not to feel like a carcass in the desert with vultures circling overhead.
My response to these questions is vague. Depending on who's asking, I say "I'm not sure," "Three bad days in a row," or, if I really don't want that person to get my job and screw up the program I worked so hard to build, "I think I'll stick it out till they kick me out."
The truth is, I really don't know. I don't know if I'm ready for a drastic change in income, to stop flying in helicopters, or to lose my identity as a wildland firefighter. Some days I am, especially on those long pointless meeting days or when faced with red tape and paperwork. Other days, when the pilot and I fly over the national park to a new fire start, I'm uncertain.
Some people have a plan in life. I never had one. I moved wherever the wind took me. I never planned to be a firefighter for 31 years, yet here I am. And even though it's a little scary at times, I like not having everything decided in advance. Some day I will wake up and say, I think I'm done with this job. Maybe it will be soon, and maybe it won't be. The vultures will just have to wait and see.