Don’t Let the Door Hit You On the Way In

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

It was a year ago last week that I started a new job with a previous employer. I’d been with them for almost four years when my position was eliminated. “No hard feelings, Dave … it’s just business.” I wish I had a few dollars for every time I’ve heard that one.

And no, there weren’t any hard feelings. It was just business. Besides, the company was really gracious in the way they went about it. They gave me over two months of advance notice along with severance pay, and my managers tried hard to find somebody else in the company to take me. “Please, give this guy a job! He’s driving us nuts!!!”

Okay, that’s not exactly how it went down, but the point is they could have been a lot more unemotional about the way they handled it. Sure, at the end of the day, I was the one without a job, but that’s just the reality of business today. Long gone are the days when you went to work at the factory and left with a gold watch 40 years later.

Something I’ve learned over the years … it’s a small world, and bridges burned aren’t easily repaired. I love the memes about a person flipping off a frustrated driver as they swerved in front of him to swipe the only remaining parking spot, only to arrive at their job interview with the recipient of their middle-finger salute. Can you say karma?

It reminds me of my younger days when I routinely worked a second job to make ends meet. When I was stationed in Key West, a friend taught me how to work on bowling machines, a skill that earned me a fair amount of money over the years. And all those hours on the receiving end of 40 lanes provides a convenient excuse any time people question my ability to focus.

At one point, a new mechanic came onboard and immediately challenged my expertise. He’d been in the industry a while, and he wanted more hours. My hours. And what better way to pad his pocket than to convince the owner I wasn’t competent? Suffice to say we didn’t get along very well, and I didn’t mind. I was still there long after he left.

A year later and at a new duty station 1,100 miles away, I applied for a part-time job in the local bowling alley. As I waited to meet the manager, guess who I saw walking my way? My heart stopped. Then he spoke. “Dave! What are you doing here?” He introduced me to the manager with a glowing review, and five minutes later I was hired. You just never know.

I’ve thought about that several times over the years. I’ve seen people in their final days on the job doing everything they can to misbehave and create friction. “I don’t care! There’s no way I’ll ever work here again!”

Okay, maybe so. But how about that manager you’re going out of your way to irritate? Is it just possible she’s looking for a job also? Five years later in a completely different company, you’re minding your own business when the boss says, “Meet your new manager.” It happens.

Whether it’s jobs or personal relationships, emotions can run high as things come to an end. It’s tempting to speak our mind, put people in their place, and walk away feeling victorious. But all too often, our indignation is directed at the wrong people, or for the wrong reasons. And it has a way of coming back at the worst possible time.

Life isn’t always fair. Things happen that we don’t deserve, and there will always be some people who can only advance themselves at the expense of somebody else. It may feel good to give them a piece of our mind, but it rarely changes the outcome. And when it does, it usually makes bad matters worse.

“Before you speak, count to ten.” Sound familiar? Here’s another one. Before you send off that flaming email, shut down your computer and have lunch. Better yet, sleep on it. When you come back, if you still think it’s the right thing to do, then hit “Send.” But odds are you’ll realize your sanity is worth more than any cheap shot you could deliver in the heat of the moment.

I’d like to tell you the good guy always wins, but that’s not how it really works. At least not in the present tense. But over the long haul, the mindset that drives you to maintain a sense of dignity and decorum will serve you well. You’ll never regret leaving a job (or a relationship) on good terms. If for no other reason, do it for yourself. You’ll be living with that person a long time.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Mistakes Are Never Intentional – Reactions Are

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

This was a good weekend for me. I got most of the things done that I’d planned, and still found some time to rest. It began Friday night as I sent my motorcycle into the sunset with a new owner and ended last night when my granddaughter came to spend a week with us. Life is good.

Selling my motorcycle was a bittersweet sorrow, and also a relief. I’d ridden one in high school, and all through my young adult years I wanted another one. My wife always knew spring was in the air, because I’d start nosing through magazines and sale ads, and browsing through the bike shops with that longing look in my eyes. But it just wasn’t to be, at least not then.

Finally, after the kids were grown and we were in a somewhat better financial position (you know, compared to unemployment), I took the plunge. For nine years, I enjoyed the feeling of the sun on my skin and the wind in my hair and spent many weekend days motoring lazily along winding country roads. It was fun. It was relaxing. It was therapeutic.

But change is part of life, and sometimes we have to accept a few changes that we’d rather do without. In my case, it was twofold – my lower back degraded to the point that sitting upright without being able to change positions made it too uncomfortable to enjoy the ride. And also, I began to worry about sharing the road with drivers in much heavier cars who text while they drive.

I had a few close calls over the years, but the last one was enough to make me hang up my helmet. At 55 mph, a driver in an SUV that had been stopped in a turn lane suddenly turned in front of me. I didn’t even have time to hit the horn. I locked up the brakes and waited for the impact. She saw me at the last second and stopped. If she hadn’t, I would have been on the evening news.

I’m sure that woman went home shaking as hard as I did. And I doubt she’s made that mistake since then. It’s not that she intentionally tried to mess up my day. We just tend to get into our own world sometimes to the point that we miss what’s going on all around us. And, depending on what we’re doing at the time, the result can be disastrous.

I could have gotten upset and offered an obscene gesture. But the fact is, I was just happy to be alive. And also, I’ve been that person in the other vehicle, not paying close enough attention, who made somebody else’s heart skip a few beats. It happens to all of us. Laying on the horn or yelling obscenities doesn’t make the other person feel any worse. It just increases the anger on both sides.

People make mistakes. Accidents happen. We hurt other people without meaning to, both physically and emotionally. And other people will hurt us. That’s life. That’s all part of living and breathing in a world where others also live and breathe. And, more importantly, a world where others have no less entitlement to live and breathe than we do.

What’s important is that we come away from those situations wiser and with a stronger sense of how to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. But when learning is replaced by a battle of who can get in the last word, who can offer the worst insult, or who can throw the last punch, nobody wins. It’s that mentality that leads to bullets replacing words.

Life is full of challenges, and sometimes we have to take a knock on the chin. It’s been said that discretion is the better part of valor. And discretion is simply using our brain to decode a situation, to determine if it’s an immediate danger that requires defensive action on our part, or if it’s simply an oversight on somebody else’s part that we could just as easily have committed.

Most of us will go through life without ever facing a situation in which our immediate survival depends on our ability to outdo another person. There will be times when we need to take immediate defensive action, but defense ends when the immediate danger is over. Anything beyond that is aggression.

We all make mistakes and, when we do, we expect others to recognize that the act was unintentional. When we offer an apology, we expect others to accept it. We can’t undo anything once it’s done, and no amount of post-conflict aggression will change that. Winning doesn’t mean we have to be stronger and better than everyone else. Sometimes, it simply means getting through life with them.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved