Day One of a New Life

As regular readers know, I left my job recently. I had been with the same organization for 25 years. I had been at my current location for a little over 4 years. I was unhappy with my situation before the pandemic and it was much worse after. After months of talking about it my wife finally agreed it was time for me to get myself out of a bad situation. My last day was December 12.

I had already decided that my first week out of the job was going to be a week to relax and refresh. I planned to do little more than read and watch TV. My kids also both came home the Monday after my last day. The week was a mix of reading and watching TV with my kids. I had planned to be off work December 23-January 3 when I was still working. I didn’t really need to worry for a bit about what my new life would be like.

Now, it is that day. January 4. The day I would have returned to work. The day I start to ease back into some sort of routine. The day when I no longer feel I can justify not getting some writing done every day. At the very least a blog post. Hopefully, some work on writing about my life in jail. I do have some excuse for not going fully into a new routine. My daughter is still home for a bit so once she is awake I will spend time with her. My wife is in Kentucky with her mom and will be there until at least next week sometime. I won’t really know what my new normal looks like until my daughter is back at school and my wife is back home.

It will be hard to establish a routine until then. I need to work to make sure I am not completely lazy during this time. It would be too easy for me to relocate from the bed to the couch every day and spend my days doing nothing. Even if I don’t accomplish much writing I need to accomplish something each day. Some sort of cleaning. A load of laundry. Exercise.

It’s the first day of my new life, but it will be another two weeks or so before I really know what this new life looks like.

How to Ruin a Moment

This will be much more detailed about work than I would ever write before. More brave now since I’m almost done.

I wrote about how yesterday was party day. I also wrote about how my last week was not a normal last week because I keep getting calls about decisions on things that will happen after I am no longer working there. Here is a snapshot of how someone tried to ruin my moment yesterday. Is it narcissism? They hate that yesterday was about me and they couldn’t take credit for any of the good things people said about me? Maybe.

Yesterday was a work from home day. I did work on the schedule for next week even though I am on on the schedule. I get a phone call about payroll stuff. I try to explain it to them and tell them there was a post on our intranet before but it seemed to be gone now. They tell me to find the post and email it to them like I’m their fucking secretary or something. I explain again that I did not see the post but this is what it said. More on this comes later.

My party is in the afternoon. The first few minutes is all about this person and their inability to ever do Zoom properly. The next hour is great. There is a slide show that starts with a video message from a friend from my old branch. There are plenty of pictures of me from my time at work. There are quotes from coworkers. After the slide show, people said nice things about me. Former coworkers were there. One all the way from Oregon. It was much more than I expected for someone who is not officially retiring. I worked an extra hour on Monday, so I clocked out soon after the party and should have had a nice afternoon basking in the glow of the nice things people said. It was not to be.

Soon after I get a call again. About random stuff. No reason for the call except to assert their power over my life one more time. Rambling talk about an upcoming event. Wanting to go over the schedule that they should have done in the first place. Talk about meetings scheduled the next few days(both on times I should be off. No respect for people’s personal time) to decide who is taking over my duties. I’m gone in four days. Shouldn’t this be done already? No longer my problem. Talk about their needing to quarantine and how they won’t work from home like others and will just take the entire time off. Like I give any fucks anymore about their schedule. And then, finally, I think it is over.

I take the dog for a walk. I’m listening to me Spotify playlist. I’m enjoying time outside. Phone rings. I really should just refuse to answer, but I answer anyway. Back to the payroll thing. They didn’t just do what I said they should do. They looked at my employee’s timecards and didn’t see where I did it and tries to make it my problem and tells me I need to contact payroll. I finally convince them otherwise. I finally get off the phone and get one more text to tell me they finally figured it out.

I watched the slide show again with my wife to try to get back the good feeling of the day.

Now I have this to look forward to: meeting this morning to discuss reassignment of my duties. Four hours in branch and then the last meeting of my mystery book club. Tomorrow a work from home day with a staff meeting where they will talk about things that don’t matter to me anymore. A meeting on my day off with my staff to once again talk about reassignment of duties. 9-2 in branch Saturday and I’m done. I’m sure numerous annoying phone calls mxed in.

First thing I do when I am officially done? Delete contacts and block certain numbers

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Party Day

I think today is the day my departure from work will start to feel real. Today is the day of my Zoom farewell party. Today is the day people from across the system will show they like me just enough to log into a Zoom call to say goodbye. I did receive four nice messages via email and Facebook yesterday from former coworkers wishing me well. I found a gift from my current coworkers in my email this morning. It is everyone loves Tater week.

I feel like I could relax and enjoy it more if I worked in a normal place in normal times. Generally by the time you get to Tuesday of your last week you are mainly saying goodbyes and wrapping up a few final things. In my reality, I’m still getting phone calls about decisions on things that will happen after I’m gone. I’m still getting phone calls where someone is telling me when they think they will be out next week. I’m still being asked to work on the schedule for next week. At least on that last one they acknowledged that at this point they can’t really make me do anything. I’m not saying I don’t think I should do work. I just wish I was on site doing work that is immediate and not still doing work that should have been passed on to others by now. I have two meetings this week to discuss who is going to do my job starting next week. I gave them a month’s notice. How are they just now accepting that I am gone?

I had my exit interview Friday afternoon where I was honest about my work experience with certain people. If things go as usual, certain people will probably be told what I said before I am gone and my last week will be even worse. I hope that won’t happen but the past tells me that the odds are good that HR will tell the person about the complaints and make things even more awkward and stressful.

It’s only a week. Five more days and then I am done. No matter how bad it might get I can get through it.

What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

My memories reminded me that I once took a career aptitude test after saying I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Back then it was just a fun idea for a post. Now I feel like I should do it again and take it more seriously. A lot of writing jobs on the list, but I really don’t feel like I’m good enough to actually write for a living. Maybe I need to take another test and see what it might show. Maybe I should stop thinking about a new career and just focus on a job that will give me something to do and some money but that I can forget about when I go home.

I said in a comment yesterday that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. That’s not technically true. I want to be retired. That’s easy. I was asked if I had ever taken a career aptitude test, so I just took one. These are the jobs I was matched with  at last 4 stars with some thoughts on each.

our Top Matches

I have no musical talent, so while I might have the personality that fits being a musician, I do not have the skills.
Photo of Editor

JOURNALISM & WRITING
I can see this. I think I have the skills needed to be a decent editor. Now I just need someone to hire me.
Photo of Author

JOURNALISM & WRITING
I would love to be an author, but I don’t think I have it in me to write a book. I guess I could be a decent essay writer if I took the time to work on it.
Someone told me in college I should do this because I was a good listener. I did not listen to them and did not explore that career.
Photo of Journalist

JOURNALISM & WRITING
I think this one fits my writing skills more. I took a journalism class in college but did not pursue the career.
Photo of Copywriter

JOURNALISM & WRITING
I’m not sure what a copywriter does. I should probably find out.
Photo of Blogger

JOURNALISM & WRITING
I am already an unpaid one of these. Anyone want to pay me to do this?
Photo of Sociologist

SOCIAL SCIENCES
I did take some sociology classes in college and liked them. I could see this being a good fit.
Photo of Proofreader

JOURNALISM & WRITING
I’m really bad at proofing my own blog posts. I’m not sure this would work.
Interesting that librarian was way down the list as a three star match. I’m not looking for a career change. I’m too close to retirement for that. Maybe I should have done this when I was stuck in jail for 19 years.

A New Chapter Coming Soon

I am 10 days away from my last day at work. I’ve been in the same profession with the same organization for 25 years. Now, in 10 days I will be ending that long chapter of my life. It reminds me of these lyrics I posted before

Wherever you are, whatever you did
It’s a page in your book, but it isn’t the end

Next Saturday is not the end of my book. Next Saturday is the end of a chapter. I will then turn the page and start a new chapter. I can work on becoming the Tater that works best for me. I can work on becoming the Tater that doesn’t read the start of a new day. I can work on being the best Tater for the people I love. I don’t really know who the next tater is yet.

The first couple of weeks hope to be the Tater who detoxes from his current experience by doing nothing more than reading and watching TV.

After the holidays, I will see how Blogger/Writer Tater works out for me. Blogger/Writer Tater will spend the morning writing and working on a book about his jail experience and then the afternoon cleaning/cooking/volunteering.

At some point I might decide I need to do something that actually pays money. At that point maybe I try to become Substitute Teacher Tater or Gig Worker Tater. I like the substitute teacher option as I like working with teens, it has flexibility and I get the holidays and summer off.

I will still stay subsribed to Indeed and Glassdoor job alerts. Maybe a job pops up that seems perfect for me and I go back to being some sort of Full Time Employee Tater. Hopefully, in a full time job that has a normal Monday – Friday 9-5 type schedule with limited contact with the public.

At some point, Mrs Tater will retire and then I hope to become Traveler Tater.

The best part of writing a new chapter? It’s a Choose Your Own Adventure book.

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Every End is a Beginning

Regular readers of the blog know that I have been in an unhappy situation. I felt stuck. I was depressed. I knew I needed a change but I wasn’t sure if I was able to make a change. Today, I have news.

I started talking to Mrs. Tater way back in June about the possibility of me leaving my job. I was unhappy before the pandemic. I was even more stressed and unhappy during the time I was working completely from home. I knew then that things would not be great for me when I did return to in-person work. I was correct. Most of what I liked about work was gone. All of what depressed me about work was still there and magnified. I started to feel physically ill at the thought of a new work week. I was depressed. I started going to therapy to deal with it. I knew deep down I would never get right while in this situation.

I had talked to my wife several times about it. I had pretty much given up hope of her being on board with me leaving my job with no landing spot. It is a giant leap of faith for someone to be OK with losing part of the household income for an undetermined amount of time. I wrote up a plan for how i would spend my days and how I would try to spend my “sabbatical” trying to write something that could be profitable. I did admit that I am 99% sure that I will not find a way to make money writing, but at least I would have the opportunity to know for sure. Then there were weeks of nothing. I would occasionally ask about the email and she would say she had not had a chance to consider it. I was losing all hope.

Sunday evening we went for our daily walk. I decided to bring it up one last time as I was already getting more and more stressed out about the end of the weekend. As we walked and talked she surprised me by saying that she agreed that leaving my job was the best thing for me to do. I made sure several times that she was really saying what I thought she was saying. She was telling me to leave my job. I called my kids when we got back to the house and they were both happy and in support of my decision. I texted my brother and sister to tell them. They were also happy and supportive. I told a small circle of my friends. Same story. I guess they all understood how unhappy I was.

So, Monday morning, while feeling like I was going to vomit, I wrote and sent my letter of resignation to my boss and HR. After 25 years with the same organization and years of doing the safe thing I took a leap to the unknown. As of December 12 I will officially have no job. I am taking a chance on myself that I will find the right place for me moving forward and that I have not doomed myself to never finding another job.

Life is too short to be miserable.

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Exploring Career Options

All of these look more attractive every day. I’m still working on #6 being an option.

I am contemplating my next step in life and exploring career options. Below are some careers where I think I might at least get a call back for an interview. It’s still iffy as I don’t seem to have marketable skills.

  1. The guy who scoops up roadkill – Bonuses: Outside work, multiple interesting lunch options, always a need for the position.
  2. Shoveling elephant poop at the zoo – Circus is no longer an option as they have retired the elephants. Too bad. I always wanted to run away with the circus. I might have if it wasn’t for all the damn clowns.
  3. Flagger Force – Outside work, but too much responsibility. Daydream too much and you might cause an accident. I’m not ready for that level of accountability.
  4. Spinning ad signs on the side of the road – Too clumsy and no rhythm. I would fail at this job.
  5. Putting flyers on people’s doors – Great for me as long as I’m not expected to talk to people. I’m all done talking to people. Bonuses – outside work, good exercise.
  6. Kept man – I’ve succeeded in the part where I find a woman who makes good money. I have failed at the part where I convince her to pay for everything while I live a leisurely life.
  7. Telemarketer – I’ve done this before and I didn’t suck at it but see above about people.
  8. Professional cheetah walker – I have the experience, but unless the zoo needs one it would require relocation to another continent.
  9. Professional blogger – If you are reading this, you likely know why this is not an option.
  10. Clown – I’m creepy and people don’t like me, so I’m almost there. This might be the winner.

Why I Was in Jail

I wrote this one a LONG time ago(2008!) and was thinking about how I ended up where I am. This is part of it. The explanation for my long stint in jail. I really think I would have been better off if I had stayed in jail until I retired.

I’ve always loved reading and that likely explains why I like libraries, but has little to do with why I am here.  I decided when I was in 6th grade that I was going to be a teacher.  After that decision was made, I never really thought about doing anything else.  I went off to the University of Kentucky and declared elementary education as my major.  The first couple of education classes were great.  I enjoyed the hour here and there that I spent in the classroom and had good grades in the education classes.  When I got to the semester before student teaching, I was spending 2 days a week at an elementary school.  I quickly realized that I didn’t like kids enough to spend all day in a room full of them and also that I wasn’t very good at teaching them.

The year before this, I needed a part time job.  I put in an application to work at the university library and received a call to go talk to the head of the periodicals department.  She  asked me to go get my application from the library administration before the interview.   The library administration told me my application had been pulled by the circulation department already, so I headed over to get it from them.  The circulation department head told me then that he wanted to hire me and that I would be happier working there than I would in periodicals.  Not really caring about the department, I said OK and accepted the job.  After a year there, I became the Sunday night supervisor.  I really loved the job and the people in the department.

When I reached the crisis point of knowing I could never be a teacher, my adviser saw how much I loved the library and suggested I look into getting an MLS.  I discovered that I was only a few credits away from a degree in communications, so I switched majors, got the BS in Communications and when on to get an MLS from the University of Kentucky.

I worked in market research for a year while getting my degree and started looking for a library job when it was time to move to Maryland for my wife’s job.  My first two library jobs were with a temp agency.  I was placed at a law firm across from the White House for a couple of weeks and then did a week at the World Bank.  My one and only full time job offer was with the Maryland State Correctional System as a contract employee.  I spent a miserable year there and then started looking for a new job with benefits.  I interviewed several places and ended up back in jail, this time with Howard County Library at the county jail.  Thirteen years later, I am still in what at the time I thought would be a nice in between job before getting out of jail for good.

As for why I am still here, part of it is that I have not been offered any other jobs I have applied for in the system, but also because I really do believe I am helping people each and every day.

How to Turn the Page?

So, yesterday, I wrote about turning the page and starting a new chapter even if the new chapter is a mystery. That’s easier said than done.

If I was the only person my actions impacted I would likely pack my bags and move back to my home state. I don’t know that I would consider moving back to my actual hometown, but I would go somewhere smaller and quieter than the place I am right now. As I’ve written before, I hate the burbs. I would find a job to pay for my living expenses and lead a quiet, secluded life. That would only work if I had no family. This option is out because my family lives here and has no interest in abandoning their lives to move to the country with me. Even if  I could convince my wife to do it, I would never voluntarily live hundreds of miles away from my kids. So, that option is obviously out.

Another option that is out is me quitting my job and taking a sabbatical while assessing my options. That was the dream for a little while during isolation. I would dream of talking to my wife and telling her that I needed to quit my job and take a break for a while for mental health reasons. In the dream version, she would agree that we were able to absorb my not working for 6 months and that I should do it. As long as I never talked to her, I could continue to dream about this. Unfortunately, I eventually had to actually have the conversation with her and thus ended the dream. I can’t just quit my job without my wife’s blessing. That wouldn’t be right. I guess she is not interested in having a house husband for a few months. Also, apparently quitting my job and taking a break while doing work around the house isn’t a real life plan.

So, where does that leave me? It leaves me not turning the page because this is a terrible time to try to make a major change in life. Finding a new job is hard in the best of times. Finding a new job when you are over 50 is hard in the best of times. Starting a new career over 50 is almost impossible even in the best of times. I’m wanting to do it n the middle of a pandemic. That just isn’t going to happen. Thus, my initial plan of a 6-month sabbatical in hopes of things being better sometime in 2021.

It’s too bad no one will pay me to write a mediocre blog. Page turning will have to wait for a bit.

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Self Doubt

I wrote this one a year ago today. This is an ongoing issue. I’ve been looking at job openings again and I opt not to apply for a lot of them because I don’t feel qualified. I’ve also reached a point where I want less, not more when it comes to career. I want to be able to clock out and forget about work until I clock in again. This is not exactly the best time to be looking for a change. I feel like I’m going to be stuck where I am forever.

If you have followed this blog(or my personal Facebook page) you will know that I have long contemplated my future career-wise. I have applied for promotions where I currently work. I have been turned down for promotions where I currently work. I think we are close to 20 times now that I have been turned down for a new job with my current employer. I have applied for multiple jobs at other organizations. I have been offered one job. You can read here about my decision to turn down the job offer. In that post, I talked about upcoming opportunities for change. Those opportunities did not pan out and now I am back to where I was before, contemplating my future.

There is a job opening right now that seems to be a good fit for me. It is a change, but not a major change. I would be doing a job similar to what I’m doing now. The commute would be manageable. It would not mess up my long term plans(I don’t think). It would reset my vacation, but I could deal with that. I’m still hesitating, though, before completing the application. Why? Various reasons. Various questions. Is 50 too old to make a major change like this? Do I really want to start all over at a new place? Do I want to give up the vacation I’ve accrued and start over? And the big one – Am I good enough?

Maybe the reason I’ve been turned down for so many jobs where I work is that they know me and know that I’m not good enough. Maybe I’ve been fooling myself all these years and I’m not actually good at what I do. Maybe they see all of my faults and they all add up to someone who would not succeed at these jobs. Maybe I’m better off staying where I am. What if I go somewhere else and they realize all of this and then I end up with no job? Maybe I should have stayed in my old position where I was basically invisible and it was less likely people would realize all of this. Maybe it’s time to admit to myself that it’s not them, it’s me and I should stop wasting my time.

I should approach the job thing like high school me approached dating. You can avoid all the inevitable rejection by not trying at all.