My Complicated Relationship With Work
My 40 year journey in the blue-collar world and some timely advice for those still trying to figure it all out
When people over the years told me they loved their jobs, I’m ashamed to admit, I was jealous. How was this possible?
For close to 40 years, I toiled in the workforce at jobs that never managed to succeed in giving me ample reason to wake up in the morning. Other than making a living that allowed me to pay the bills, and some pretty good benefits, I can honestly say that none of those jobs rose to the level of personal satisfaction or contentment.
I’d like to use this chance to provide a cautionary tale to those who settle for occupations that don’t measure up to your expectations. Because when you think about it, you’re going to spend a lot of hours and time on your chosen line of work. So you owe it to yourself to look long and hard at what you want to do in life, especially when we’re only on this earth for a short period. Make the best of it, if you can, because it might save you a lifetime of disappointment and regret.
For me, my work life and personal life have always been inexorably linked. A common refrain is that work defines you. I realize that’s a broad statement, but in my case, it certainly was a fact. For nearly 28 years, I was a courier for FedEx — 15 of them in Akron, Ohio, the rest in Palm Springs, Ca. That’s right, I picked up and delivered packages, as well as loaded and unloaded trucks, loyally and dependably for all of those years.
Before that, I worked at a local hospital for 10 years, first in the dietary department, dumping trash, mopping floors, delivering food to patients, and cleaning pots and pans. From there, I transferred to shipping and receiving, where I was an assistant supervisor for a couple of years. The rest was spent loading and unloading trucks, delivering supplies to various departments, and stocking shelves.
In either case, whether it was at FedEx or before at the hospital, I basically muddled through those 38 years. But I always gave them 100%. Unfortunately, I never felt the kind of positivity or reward one would hope to achieve from dedicating such a large chunk of time, sweat, and stress. Loyalty, yes…