On May 1, 1978, fresh out of the University of Michigan School of Business with my MBA, I started my career with what was then known as Michigan Bell. I commuted every day to various locations in the Detroit area, and had to deal with traffic, bad weather, and irate drivers. In January 1984, my career took me to Chicago, where I had to deal with worse traffic, even worse weather, and madder drivers. The commuter train was a nice touch to make the commute more tolerable except when I got moved to Oak Brook. Toll roads, O’Hare traffic, and yes, bad weather. Then the move to Atlanta in 1991. Same story dealing with The Perimeter, 400, I285, the I75/I85 merge. At least the weather was usually better.
Then, in 2012, it all changed. Unemployment. Finding a job became my full time job. First, it was selling used cars, working different shifts, working weekends and holidays, and being off on weekdays. Then I became a Certified Peer Specialist on a part-time basis working different shifts, working weekends and holidays, and being off on weekdays. Then I took on another part-time job at a pharmacy and guess what? Different shifts, working weekends and holidays, and being off on weekdays. I followed that with a part- time job at a university. It was a consistent shift with occasional weekend work. I worked 6 hour days and was usually home by 3:30. So, for 4 years, this is how my career progressed.
Today, I completed my 8th working day at NAMI Georgia. This is a 40 hour per week job. My 18 mile commute can take about 45 minutes on a typical day as I fight my way to 400 and then over on I285 to the Spaghetti Junction area. To make the commute more challenging, I drive a car with manual transmission. In goes the clutch, shift, let out the clutch, rinse and repeat. This past weekend, I brought my laptop home to get a little bit of work done. The pace in the office can be stressful and my to do list gets longer everyday.
And yet, I feel happy and energized. I realize that some of this can be attributed to the excitement and challenge of a new job. Perhaps the newness will wear off. The fact that I am working for an organization which shares my personal mission is certainly a factor. The fact that I like my peers and my Executive Director helps too. But the other day, I felt good to be in traffic. I was happy to bring my laptop home to work on the weekend. I felt good about myself because I was doing things which I used to do. I was doing things that a lot of other people do. I felt like I was a part of something that mattered. I felt important. I felt alive.
Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living. It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it.
For me, I’m having the time of my life.