Last week, I was inspired to write today’s post by two talented bloggers that I follow:
First there is a friend of mine for many years who writes themattharding. He shared an older post of his titled “The Missing Piece of the Puzzle.”
The other is Looking for the Good. She discovered my blog when I started out a few months back. I have since enjoyed her positive outlook on life and often look to her blog as a compliment to the style I am trying to portray in my own writings. Last week she wrote “Happiness Is a Risk.”
Here’s my story about my journey in the work force post-secondary school:
About twenty years ago, I thought that I needed to prove my worth in society by climbing a corporate ladder. I had very little in the way of post secondary education and was holding down dead end minimum wage jobs. I worked hard to prove my value to the companies I was employed at. But pride in my work only made me a good employee. The spring of 1999, I applied for a job at a multiplex theater that was about to open. I made the “maybe pile” and not the 110 pile (110 was the No pile, just throw a slash between the one’s to understand). I was a second round pick, but worked my butt off to prove my worth. I became a projectionist fairly quickly (after the union dispute was resolved). I loved working at the movie theater and wanted to become a manager. It appeared that it wasn’t going to happen after nearly five years working there. A couple years later, I got a second part-time job. This time at The Home Depot in the seasonal department for the summer. In the fall of that year, my hours got cut back at HD & I was moved from the seasonal department to the windows and doors. Because my hours were cut, I needed to find yet another job.
Perfect timing that a new Chuck E Cheese’s was opening near our home and I got a job doing early mornings Monday to Friday repairing the arcade games. I was now working three part time jobs, putting in about 70-80 hours/week. I saved all the money I could and my wife and I put a down payment on our first house. By spring I decided to quit working at the movie theater. I left there being the highest paid part-time employee. I knew they would continue to give me piddly little raises to try and keep me, but there was no advancement opportunities in the near future, so I had to leave. I still had two other jobs. Not only was Home Depot a great employer that was closer to my new home, but I was learning how to “adult” and home renovations were becoming my new hobby.
Within a few months of hiring on at Chuck E. Cheese’s, an opportunity came to become a manager at that location, so I took it. I had to quit the Home Depot, but I was finally getting a salary and benefits. $28,500/yr & no bonuses. I was putting in 50hr work weeks still, but I had two little girls at home under the age of two and they loved my job.
I stayed as a manager for nearly five years there. But again, no promotional opportunities, and the pay wasn’t meeting my needs as we just had our third child and we needed a bigger house. I was chasing a goal I thought I needed which I knew couldn’t be achieved in a short time. I began passing my résumé around and was mastering the “Art of the Job Interview”. To me it was a becoming a game- say what they wanted to hear and they almost always offered me the job. But it all came down to pay and promotion advancements. I turned down almost every job. It felt good to be able to do that, but it wasn’t getting me where I wanted to be.
Summer of 2007, the other assistant manager at CEC got himself a job at a railroad. Because we had become such great friends- he notified me of a job fair that was coming up. I took the chance and went in, passing the exams and the interview with ease. I got a call back within a couple of weeks asking if I could start ASAP in the training, otherwise I’d have to wait a few months for the next round of training. I asked what the pay was. To start in training, my pay was 2.5x the salary I was currently making. After training, the money got even better.
I was now a laborer. I did the job expected of me and I went home. But of course, in my mindset of how my parents lived, I thought that I needed to still chase management opportunities. So, a couple of years after being hired at the railroad, I applied for a management position. However, during the interview I realized that I didn’t want it. More hours, more stress, be more of an a-hole to the people I had become friends with; all for a bit more money. I realized at that point I wasn’t wanting to work extra hours and that my family and friends had become my priority. The job I am doing pays me well enough and I had more time to be with my family than I ever expected.
As life has goes on, opportunity comes in many forms. It may take a new direction or a change of pace to make you realize the path you need to be on.
Life is what you make it. I’m trying to make mine fun.