For Donald and Joann Miles, the spare hours accompanying retirement are put to good use.
The Woodbine couple has worked more than 600 hours this year in volunteer jobs at Howard County General Hospital. There, each has begun a second career -- but this time, they don't get paid.
Donald Miles, 63, has donated approximately 1,350 hours since he joined the hospital volunteer staff in 1988, working at least two days a week in the emergency room and the recovery room. He worked Christmas Day.
"I was in the hospital one day and it seemed to me that they could use some help," said Donald, a retired planner who worked 37 years with the Potomac Electric Power Co. "You always hear retired people say they have nothing to do, so I decided I'd do something."
He and his wife have been busy ever since. From taking temperatures, assisting cardiac technicians and transporting patients, the couple has become familiar to hospital patients and administrators.
"It would be wonderful to have more people like the Mileses," said Debbie Daskaloff, director of volunteer services at the hospital. Howard General has about 150 volunteers but could use more, she said.
Donald Miles is an amateur photographer who often takes pictures for hospital raffles and auctions, Daskaloff said. He serves as vice president of the hospital's volunteer auxiliary.
"Donald is an especially good sport about the whole thing. Most of our volunteers are women, and a lot of times, he's one of the only males in a group," she said. "He takes a lot of ribbing about being the only rooster in the hen house."
Joann Miles, 60, is a retired programming assistant from Johns Hopkins University. She joined the volunteer staff about three months after her husband did and performs duties ranging from clerical work to patient transports.
At their jobs, where the sole monetary compensation is a federal tax credit for gas mileage, Donald and Joann Miles see the ups and downs of life and death.
"In the emergency room, you see the car accidents and the serious injuries that can really get to you," Donald Miles said. "You see abused kids, you see young people badly hurt. And you see some people that are so old they're just coming in to die."
But nearly all appreciate kindnesses that someone can show them, Donald Miles said.
"People need to be cheered up in the hospital," he said. "They really are tickled when you make the effort."