Getting Canned Part 3: The Camel Strikes Back
Let’s wrap this up, shall we?
If you’ve followed the last two posts, we’ve been through quite a bit so far. In this one, I’d like to explain some of the best Adventure I experienced as a result of my layoff.
After turning down the offer I had to return to medical device sales, I needed a plan. Yes, I turned down the only income opportunity I had at the time to plot a new course in life. That doesn’t make it sound very smart, but it was definitely the right thing to do.
So, what to do now? Well, here’s where it got interesting. I did three things. First, because I had filed for unemployment, I had received a notice from the county of some grant-based job openings working for a local parks department. I couldn’t sit around not working any longer. I had done some volunteer work sporadically at one of the local shelters, but that wasn’t taking up enough of my time.
I ended up taking a position as a laborer rebuilding a flood-damaged park about 10 minutes from my house. In the form of some kind of government grant, your tax dollars paid me and about 16 others about $17.58 an hour to work. This was truly an Adventure.
First and foremost, I got to work with a rogue’s gallery of some of our area’s “finest.” A majority of these guys were very experienced at not working very hard but looking busy. There were about four of us that were typically willing to work a full day. There was little oversight, so most of the guys just cruised from smoke break to smoke break until it was time to knock off.
When left to their own devices, these guys were like the keystone cops. In the several months I worked there they ran over a water fountain with a one ton truck, damaged a couple sidewalks with equipment, broke pieces of rental equipment, played bumper cars with work carts, and flicked about 60,000 cigarette butts throughout the park. It was like going to work at the monkey pen at the zoo everyday, but less structured.
As it tends to, these behaviors caught up with the crew. About a week after I moved on from the job that fall, I heard that one of them was in the hospital with severe compound fractures of his leg because they crushed it under a foot bridge railing they had removed to paint. Apparently it wasn’t supported correctly and just fell over on the poor guy. Sad, but not surprising.
Luckily, I was able to spend most of my time on the job with a someone I was able to learn a ton of skills from. Michael was a little older than me, and had worked on survey crews for 20+ years. He was working this job as an opportunity to make some money while he worked toward an engineering degree. He taught me more about surveying, grading, and construction in four months than any of those other idiots had learned in their entire lives.
Another great skill I was able to develop was operating a skid-steer. We had several projects that required moving a great deal of sand or grading areas before they were built upon. I spent several weeks on a bobcat getting more skilled every day. Honestly, if I could make the same living for my family I do in more “white collar” work, I’d be thrilled to spend every day on a piece of equipment. There’s something very rewarding about creating something from nothing through the use of a machine. It really put a smile on my face and a gleam in my eye to look at the work I accomplished. I don’t regret the experience one bit.
The second thing I did during this period was swallow my pride and do contract work for the company that fired me. I got a call a couple months after I was let go by one of the managers. He asked if I’d be willing to work per diem covering surgeries for him. They’d cover expenses, and pay around $750 per day. It was really a great chance to supplement my income from the park job and stay connected to the industry, in case I did decide to return to it.
Just because it was the right thing to do didn’t mean it was the easiest. There were definitely two sides to this for me. One, it actually validated the thought that I might not be a total screw-up. Two, because I’d been “rejected” by this company before, the thought crossed my mind that I was selling my soul to make a buck. Thankfully, it only came a day a time, so it didn’t cost me much soul. Overall, though, it was a smart choice. It provided more income for my family, and I got to perform the part of the job that I used to enjoy the most. Not that bad of a trade off.
The third action I took was really a decision. Shortly after being let go, I began discussing a potential opportunity with someone I knew from an alumni group I was part of. Basically, this gentleman had plans to start a very specific type of technology business. The details of what it was aren’t important.
We discussed his plans several times and he sent me his business plan and supporting materials to understand the business. The only thing that was keeping the business from getting off the ground immediately was funding. He was solving that through 2 major investors that he’d brought into the project, and they should be able to fund the venture in the next 4 months. I was offered a position helping start an exciting new venture.
Like everyone, I consider myself a pretty reasonable judge of character. If I do feel you’re sincere, I’ll put a lot of trust in you. I think my friend had a genuine belief that what he was telling me was true and going to happen. I really do. However, after waiting four months for things to materialize, it became apparent that nothing would happen.
At this point, I decided to move on from this so-called “opportunity” and find other work. Thank God for the hard work I got to do at the park as I was making this decision. It kept me from brooding upon the situation all day long.
Boy, did I feel stupid! Although it didn’t paralyze me moving forward on other work or life in general, I made a very big mistake regarding this situation. When I finally figured out it wasn’t real, I got very angry. I held onto that anger about what happened for a good two years after. Not a good decision. Every time I thought of it, it triggered thoughts that I had made a poor decision that affected my whole family adversely. More than a year had past, I was in a new career, and things were good; but because I couldn’t let go I’d berate myself on how stupid I was to risk my family’s livelihood on whim.
I don’t think I need to explain how unhealthy that line of thinking was, and how unhappy it made me. I found little to no joy in anything. I had not spirit of Adventure because I let these negative feelings kill it. Don’t do that. Dwelling on the past and judging yourself a failure can’t help you move forward in a productive manner at all. It will steal the fire that blazes in your heart and erase the smile from your face faster than you can blink.
If you’re harboring something similar, don’t make my mistake. Forgive yourself and move on. Talk to your loved ones about it. You’ll find that you’re the only one who hasn’t forgiven yourself. Why go against the grain?
Eventually, I ended up joining a different friend of mine for a total career change that’s worked out swimmingly. I get to enable peoples’ success every day and I really enjoy it. It gives me the flexibility to spend time with my family, and I get to pursue many different Adventures with them and by myself. The greatest thing about it is that it’s a great Career Adventure in itself. It definitely puts that smile on my face and a gleam in my eye. I hope you find that as well, if you haven’t already.
So, in summary, what a journey. In the end, I’m winning this part of my Adventure. So, the self-doubt and depression you’ve probably seen in this story are at bay. I hope you’ve been able to grasp a few useful nuggets and learn from my mistakes. If nothing else, maybe you were entertained for a bit. From here on out, we’ll get on with our work of finding more Adventure in our lives.
Thanks for reading,
Adventure Camel Herder