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

Make Every Moment Count

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

It’s funny how we can reach Friday and say, “This has been a really long week!” Long, compared to what? A shorter week? I’m not talking about working hours, or those weeks when we get a holiday. Even then, they have a way of leveling the score. I’ve often said that when you get to skip a Monday at work, you get four more to make up for it. Can I get an amen?

Yet, at the end of these “long” weeks, we always say the same thing. “I just didn’t have enough time to get it all done!” Well, which is it? If the week was noticeably longer, that excuse pretty much goes out the window. And in all honesty, there are only two ways to make a week longer – flying west or waiting for the change to Standard Time. And that only happens once a year.

Still, it’s been an exceptionally long week for me. Let’s face it, time doesn’t always fly. The more challenging the situation, the slower that clock seems to turn. There were times this week when I was pretty sure mine was broken.

One of the nice things about working from home is that “home” doesn’t always have to be in the same place. I’ve been fortunate to work for a company that really doesn’t care where I’m located, as long as I’m online during working hours. That was an unintended consequence of the pandemic, but still a blessing. And this week, I’ve been in Florida to spend time with my dad.

Yesterday that time was spent in a hospital emergency room, literally all day. I won’t go into detail, except to say there were a few hours where I wasn’t sure the day would have a happy ending. One of the most heartbreaking things we’ll ever experience is watching that example of strength we’ve known all our lives slip further into a debilitating condition with only one eventual escape.

Thankfully, things started going our way late in the afternoon and he finished the day better stabilized and gaining strength. He’s got a long recovery ahead, and I know some days will be better than others. The best I can do is be here, and make sure he knows how much I appreciate the person he is and the person he’s helped me to become.

I’ve had several conversations with my daughters and oldest grandson this week, and the thing I keep telling them is never take anything for granted. For each person in our life, there will be a last visit and a last conversation. What we’ll never know is if it’s in the future or has already happened. And that’s why it’s so important that we take advantage of those opportunities to make the time count.

I worked with a guy years ago that I didn’t particularly like, and he felt the same about me. I really can’t say why. That’s just the way it was. Our conversations were typically laced with snide remarks and disdain. I still remember the day he made an especially rude comment to me and I suggested he should kiss my behind. I wasn’t always this nice.

A few weeks later, we had to team up on a manufacturing issue, and we worked really well together. He came to respect my abilities, and I came to respect his. We never went to lunch together, but it was a pleasant experience. A month later, he had an aneurism and died. I can’t remember my final words to him, but I will always know what they might have been. Thank God we were able to work past that.

Throughout our lives, we will come to know a lot of people. Some will mean the world to us, some will be mere acquaintances, and the rest will fall somewhere in between. And whether we mean to or not, we will each leave an imprint on one another in ways we may never know. That’s why it’s so important that we think before we speak, and atone for any transgressions as quickly as possible.

To that person at work whose smile we barely notice, a smile or a warm greeting from us could mean the world. The neighbor whose lifestyle offends us may be yearning for acceptance. Even the person in handcuffs in the back seat of a police cruiser deserves our compassion. And the best part is, it’s free. It costs nothing to offer a smile or a kind word. Will it make a difference? You may never know.

I’m confident I’ll have more opportunities to spend time with Dad and let him know how much he means to me. How many more is the great unknown. Pick up the phone. Write a letter. Go visit. You’ll never know when that last conversation about nothing in particular may truly be your last. Make it count.

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

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved