So some of you may know that I took an early retirement from my job to spend more time with my parents and my great kid. I had been at work for more years than I can count and missing too many milestones, too many moments with the 3 people I loved the most. And while it was not an easy decision, it was made easier by the fact that the job I was doing – while it paid well – was not much more than pushing paper around, creating endless spreadsheets to defend or justify or rationalize money for the number-crunchers, and defend prices to people who didn’t really understand them (and that included people in the company I worked for).
But the one part of my job that I loved – and that I missed dearly after I left – was the interaction with people. The conversations with co-workers like my great good friend, Deborah, still the bravest and hardest-working woman I know. The business relationships that started off as phone conversations and eventually evolved into true friendships that I value even to this day, with special people like Dawn and Cindy and Smoochie (and since I’m the only person that calls Smoochie by that name, he/she shall remain anonymous in this post). These friendships have been blessings in my life.
The job though was just a job and one that – for reasons too long and boring to go into here – was morphing less into being of service to my customers and more about satisfying increasingly arbitrary benchmarks. So when I left, I was not missing the concept of working but the people who made the days not only tolerable but enjoyable.
So after the few years since my beloved Dad died and now almost a year since my great kid has relocated his life across the country, I knew that I needed to do more than I was doing. When I was writing my financial blog (an experience beyond rewarding for me and one I hope to revisit soon), I worked from home and while that can be a very liberating experience to be in control of your time, to be on the schedule that works for you, to skip the horrific traffic jams and winter storms and derailed trains that make up a commute to work, it is also an isolating experience. Because I guess it’s true that no man is an island and when I ventured out of my tiny house into the real world, I found myself soaking up conversations and spilling my guts to anyone and everyone who would listen.
I missed talking to people and I missed the part of my job that had been diminished by others over the years, the part that involved helping people, solving problems, providing good – and maybe great – customer service. I knew there was good I could do and I knew I could be good doing good.
Anyway, I have taken a long way around to talk about the job I am blessed to do now. I work for a great company that is all about helping people, caring for people, making the lives of those people we love and honor better and safer and happier. And I work for the most amazing woman, someone who has a light within her that shines on everyone, a woman with a passion for helping. But how I got here is why I think that you have to watch out for the road placed in front of you.
When my Dad came out of rehab after one of his many stays at the hospital during the last few months of his life, someone suggested to us that we should get help for him at home, not only to make sure he would be okay but to take some of the physical burden off of my mother and also to enable her to take care of herself as well. Because being a caregiver for a family member is a hard and often thankless job. All the attention almost always goes to the patient, while very little praise or recognition is directed towards the caregiver. And so my Mom and I interviewed multiple companies, represented by people ranging from extraordinarily competent to those about whom the less I tell you, the better.
One of those people turned out to be my boss and the caregiver she personally selected for my Dad was a wonderful man who made both of my parents’ lives better. And since I’m a believer that everything happens for a reason, when I stumbled last year across an ad she had placed looking for someone to provide customer service and utilize their people skills for her business, I had to apply. And so happily for me, I got the job.
But it’s not just a job to me. Because every day I can go out into the real world and interact with people and listen to their stories and educate them about how and why we can help their parents, their spouses, their friends, even themselves. I’m doing real good in the world. I’m not pushing paper, I’m not doing busy work; I’m making people’s lives better. In my heart of hearts, I feel like it was the work I was always meant to do. I followed the road and it led me to Right at Home. And I learned that it’s never too late to jump start your career, or point your ship towards a different star, or reinvent your dreams. As that great philosopher of our time, Yoda, says “Mind what you have learned. Save you it can”. I did and it did.