One can become complacent about things. Just going about the task of getting to work every day and doing all of the things otherwise required to take care of one’s life, including those labelled fun and enriching, is busy.
There are a few reasons why I stayed in what was, for the most part, the wrong job for three and a half years. Mostly, it was because I was appreciated. I work in business development, and I’m pretty good at creating a good “face” for the company I’m representing. I created a fresh “brand” for our proposals and other documentation, and I was considered an integral part of the proposal development teams.
A good part of the success of any proposal writer is the ability to persevere under pressure, and spiking hours. I must say, I dig the pace of proposal writing; the constant turnover of projects appeals to me. I work better under pressure, and I love the feeling of producing something of a high standard under difficult conditions.
But I had no true understanding of our product (software solutions), nor the desire to, really. I don’t have a brain wired to understand this kind of technology. I didn’t really need to – it was the specialists that had to write up the solutions – they were the ones inventing them and had to be the ones describing them. It was cool to watch the process of a team designing a custom solution for a client – a creative process working in a highly technical environment. But I always felt outside of that, and thus not satisfied with my role in it.
They appreciated me, and they paid me to stay. My financial situation was substantially improved in my tenure there, but in the end, I don’t live for money. Job satisfaction is more important to me.
There were a number of times over the past three and a half years that I started to look for a new job, but complacency took over and I just carried on. I was “comfortable;” doing work that, while not satisfying on a personal level, gained me the respect of the company. Recently though, as recruiters started calling, it seemed the time for change was right.
The long commute had started to wear me down. My loyal blogland friends will know that the commute was often a source of inspiration for this space, and that lately it has become less so. The crowds of rush hour, and the inherent (?) rudeness, anonymity, unseeing, cattle-like behaviour just plain depressed me. I found it harder and harder to live the rule, “be the change you want to see” and I don’t want to be cattle.
So I’ve been entertaining opportunities presented to me by these recruiters that seem to have come calling all at once. There was an almost-hiring at Christmas. I was excited because the office was near to my home. But really, the work sounded much like what I do now – lots of coordinating, not much challenge. There were lots of opportunities opening up in the area where I work now, but what’s the point? Fresh job/same commute is only addressing half my problem.
But then, another recruiter called with another address that caught my attention. And then an enjoyable (yes, enjoyable) initial phone interview with my would-be manager, who described a job that sounded challenging and exciting – more writing, less coordinating. There was another in-person interview over lunch, just as enjoyable as the first. I was being presented with the opportunity to develop my own job (not previously held by anyone), and to help another company grow in an area where they want to expand. There is opportunity for travel, to develop my skills, better benefits and yes, a little more money.
And I can walk to work. I live in the heart of the city because I love the vibrancy, the diversity, colour, sights, oddities, action and surprises. You can't know how gratified I am for the opportunity to move out of the underground tunnels and up to the sidewalks.
The best part of all: two hours a day, formerly spent travelling to and from work, mostly underground, will be mine again. Two hours a day. That's ten hours a week, forty hours a month…
All the riches in the world can’t replace that.
What is it that invisible thread of connection that binds you to a stranger? What is it about that person that stands out in the sea of intentionally bland, internalized faces in a busy transit commute in a busy city? What makes your attention rest on a particular person; makes you wonder about a stranger’s life?
Say you see something in a pair of bright blue eyes. Brighter and clearer than you might expect to see in a body even decades younger than the seventy odd year old one that houses these ones. Something in the way they stop on you only for a split second and move away just as you notice them. You know in that instant those eyes are present; they are living in their surroundings, not glazing over them. And you somehow know those eyes didn’t glaze over you.
Then you notice the way he lingers back casually away from the rest of the people at the bus stop, not needing to stake a place just where the driver will stop to ensure a seat. The peaceful way he sits in the crowded bus, holding various bags and an awkward plastic box without fumbling or struggling or intruding on anyone else. You notice something that is somehow lucid and purposeful in way he pulls on his gloves while still holding on to those bags and the box.
That mouth drawn up in a way that elongates his chin makes him look something like Ray Bolger – an expression that could make him look simple or comical like The Scarecrow, but doesn’t. It’s a mouth housed in a face that is alive to its surroundings. A face and a body alive to a moment.
Today I encounter a stranger. After he exits the bus I imagine what his kitchen is like, and him making breakfast and coffee, planning a day that will include an early bus ride.
Copyright © Jennifer Morrison 2008