Independence Day

Going It Alone

No, I am not referring to hot dogs and fireworks, or an alien invasion movie. A couple of days ago, I saw those two words posted on my calendar and the meaning hit me right between the eyes. On February 24th, 2014, I was let go from my previous job with a Detroit law firm. Just the year before, I had celebrated twenty-five years with the company. Unfortunately, on that dreadful day, I joined eighteen other unsuspecting victims who were also given the ax. I have that date highlighted in my calendar as a yearly reminder of where I was then, and how far I have come since. Has it really been five years? Amazing.

Let me be clear. I don’t miss my old job one bit. After twenty-three years of managing Data Backup and Recovery, I was unceremoniously tossed onto the Help Desk. A victim of a political power play. Since a first-grader had a better command of Microsoft Office than I did, the transition was brutal. I hated every minute of it, and when I was fired it was almost a relief. I do miss the folks I used to work with though. My fellow Help Desk co-sufferers, Steve, Dawn, and Jeanne. Plus, my old boss Denise, who would listen patiently as I poured out my frustrations with repagination and other document surgery. As well as most of the staff members, who were so patient with me as I tried to puzzle out their computer problems.

The other day, my old work buddy Larry sent me a picture of some guy who was chatting with him at his desk. Since it was a side shot, I had no idea who it was. Turns out it was me! Many years ago and fifty pounds heavier. This startled me a bit. How is it that I didn’t even recognize myself in that photo? That’s easy. I’m not the same person I used to be. The past five years have done a number on me, in a good way. Where before I had avoided trying new things and taking chances, they are now part of my everyday life. From time to time, I still meet Steve for lunch. We reminisce about the old days and he fills me in on the latest office gossip. As I drive home after lunch, I thank God that I am no longer working in that toxic, stress-filled environment. I look forward to seeing what the next five years will bring.

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The Gold Watch

Better Late Than Never

There once was a time-worn tradition in the working world. You bounced around various jobs in your youth, looking for the right fit. Eventually, you found a career that would provide you and your family with a decent salary, benefits, and job security. Once you joined that company, you toiled away for the next twenty-five years or so, until you eventually reached your reward for all of that hard work. Retirement. The symbol of achieving that goal was a beautiful gold watch. However, these days many people never get their retirement party or that gold watch. I was one of them.

There is a growing trend across the business world. Companies fire their senior employees before they ever reach retirement. That way, businesses get to avoid the higher salaries and benefits costs paid to these employees. Then they either eliminate the positions entirely or hire shiny new college kids to fill those jobs, at less than half the salary. My journey over the past five years (has it really been that long?) is detailed in my blog The Brown Parachute Club. If you know someone in a similar situation, please share this website with them. There are over thirty articles designed to help my fellow Brown Parachuters get through these tough times.

In my case, a funny thing happened along the way. Once the stress of my previous job was lifted off my shoulders, I became much happier. A friend of mine, Gerard Baltrusaitis (Career Evangelist), gave me some good advice. Reinvent Yourself. And that’s exactly what I have done. I absolutely love my job with Global Discovery Vacations. Also, between TBPC and this blog, I have discovered writing skills I never knew I had. Recently, while picking up some last minute Christmas gifts at JCPenney, I noticed a beautiful gold watch. The retirement party I was never given immediately sprang to mind, so I bought the watch. I wear it proudly to a job I look forward to each day. A sign of a career successfully reinvented. Thanks, Gerry!

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