Saturday, January 25, 2014

Choosing Joy

Life is a series of choices we make. Which road we select makes all the difference in how our lives are lived.  During the past couple of years, I chose to find a new path – that of joy over security - and it has really paid off. 

Over the years I’ve had some secure, high-paying jobs but I was never very fulfilled in the corporate world. When I had to leave my last full-time position due the health concerns caused by the stress of the job, I was determined to find a way out of the “rat race”. 

Several attempts at self-employment later, I realized I really had to buckle down and figure out a job that I’d be happy doing. I made a list of all the things I enjoyed doing – including eating – and one day while I was looking at the list I noticed talking, interviewing people and driving. It was like a string of plastic beads snapping together (remember those?) and I knew what I wanted to do – drive a shuttle. 

Simple? Yes. I thought of all the possibilities for shuttles – airports, hotels, car dealerships – and looked online. There were a few of those available for application online, but I had another idea. I got a printout of my driving record, updated my resume and wrote a cover letter. Then I put these together into packets and hand-delivered them to rental car agencies and car dealerships. I literally walked two auto-malls and on my second day out I hit the dealership where I now work. 

It was kismet! They needed a new shuttle driver and I needed a job I would enjoy and I have loved working there every day since.  I work four days – three 10-hours and one 8.5 hours – and have three days off. Each workday is an adventure, quite literally.

I drive people home, to work or to places of entertainment – like a casino, movies or the mall – while their vehicle is being serviced. About half the time, I go pick them up and return them to the dealership. This humble chore is, for me, an opportunity to get to know each one a little bit. 

Most of them have something interesting in their lives; a past, an occupation, a trouble they need to share with someone or they know a bit of history of the Roseville area. I’ve carried people who originated in The Netherlands, England, Nigeria, New Zealand, Columbia, Korea, Peru, Romania, Albania, Russia and many more countries.  I’ve also had a former locomotive driver, a lady bug wrangler (a gentleman who gathers ladybugs and sells them online), a professional harmonica player; and veterans of WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, both Iraqi engagements and the Afghanistan conflict, of both sexes. 

I know during my trips with these passengers I am often able to make their day better, which is really my goal. Either we laugh together, cry together or are just reminded that we are all humans who need other humans. It is a great life and I find JOY continuously. 

And as a writer, I am doubly fulfilled because I find so many story ideas among these encounters.

The trip to this new phase of my life was painful. It involved a lot of failure and soul searching but in the end, I found a treasure by sticking – obstinately – to the idea that there had to be job I was perfect for out there and vice versa. Oh, by the way, I was nominated for Employee of the Month before I’d even completed my probationary period from a field of 300 employees. I didn’t win, but I really mean this when I say just being nominated was truly a great honor. 

Words to the wise: If you are not finding joy in what you do, begin to make a change and proceed until you do. It likely will not be a quick process, but in the end, you’ll be glad you did.