When describing my Navy career, I often tell people that I didn't join intending to make a career of it. It's just that I was always having too much fun to get out.
That's true, but another thought occasionally came across my mind.
As a young Sailor on liberty, I often found myself sitting at a bar somewhere. (Surprise!). When that happened in the States, every now and then I'd wind up talking to some old guy at the bar too. These old guys probably weren't really that old, 40's maybe, looking like they've had tough lives, and were still working their tough jobs. They often made the comment, "Yeah, if I had stayed in, I woulda been retired by now..."
I don't think I ever wanted to be one of those guys. Of course I lucked out, and stayed in because I liked it, but every now and then I think of those nameless old guys who regretted not staying in.
Their stories had an effect on me. So thanks old guys. I stayed in.