So as many of you know, I entered limbo six weeks ago, almost to the day. Six weeks where I could not collect unemployment, since I had not been terminated, six weeks where I could not plan for the future, because my professional fate was in the hands of people who see me not as a person but as a tool, an asset that has to be utilized in a way best suited to their aims, their timetable.
Every day I woke up not knowing what my corporate future would be, and at least once a day I would feel that pang of fear deep in my gut, that same pang I would feel every time I stood in the door of an airplane before jumping out and I thought I might die.
But I knew I wasn’t going to die, at the worst I would have to find another job, change the way I live a little. But the fear inside can’t differentiate between the two things. But I knew enough that what ever happened, I would be OK, life would go on. I was just going to have to wait for the results.
Two weeks ago I found out that if I wanted my old job back I would have to go to arbitration. But if I were willing to take a lower paying job, they were willing to put me back to work. If I fought, I would most likely win, but did I want to continue to work for someone who was going to obsessively catalogue all of my shortcomings until he could find a more solid reason to get rid of me? I’m too old to but up with that kind of stress.
One of the things I gave up to do this job, the handyman job was time to write. Time and energy, I found out, as I would come home so beat everyday all I could do was zone out in front of the TV. The new job is actually my old job, being a doorman, so at least I know it will not wear me down the way the other one did. Plus I will have more time to write, since it’s only 8 hours as opposed to 9.
The only drawback is that I have to work evenings, and weekends. I’ve worked all the shifts at the building, but never this one. When the union guy told me on the phone my heart sank. No more Saturday night parties, movies, dinners with friends. No more days off on holidays. I balked at the thought of saying yes. But then I thought, it won’t be forever. And besides, what about the guy who did it for 5 years before retiring last year, good old Gaspar? Gaspar did the shift without complaint and was happy to have the work. Am I so special I shouldn’t have to work evenings and weekends? I was always impressed by Gaspar’s humility and good nature, and humility is something I have precious little of.
If I look at my part in this whole drama, I have to admit that more than a little bit of my own arrogance contributed to the events that led to my bosses’ actions. Maybe I need to be humbled. So I said yes. I want to at least leave on my terms, not theirs. So, back behind the desk, in my stripped pants and tie, listening to tenant’s highs and lows. And if I don’t like it, I can always find another job. Or do something else.
I did a lot in the weeks I was home. I wrote 25 blog posts, including this one. I sent some chapters off to a publisher. I started two new chapters. I lost 11 pounds because I’ve had time in the mornings to work out, and even changed the way I eat. I got to spend a lot of time with my lovely wife, Danusia, who has been wonderful and supportive. And I’ve started a new stage in my life, freer, and not as arrogant. Thanks, Gaspar.