Monday, July 25, 2011

Life Timing - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Timing, baby. It can be your buddy, it can be your enemy. Life can turn on the smallest detail, chance encounters, found jobs, lost jobs, friendships, chronology. These things can determine the course of your life. What happens, when it happens, what doesn't happen, how you react, how you don't react. This is how a life is built.
I studied accounting in college. Silly choice. I hate accounting. Graduated in 1977. Went to work for my father for two years. Two miserable years. He owned a steel erection company. Save the jokes, I've heard them all. The ultimate hard on etc. My father installed me and my brother as ersatz executives upon graduation. My brother could handle it, I could not. I didn't understand the business and didn't have the balls to bluff my way through it. The iron workers hated me and deservedly so.
I left in 1979 for an accounting job and began a long, torturous "career" as a cubicle dweller. I even tortured myself to within a few credits of an MBA. Night school, baby. That wasn't exactly a laugh a minute riot. I hung in there for approximately 26 years, with many twists and turns along the way. Getting fired, getting laid off, promotions, good pay, bad pay, silly seminars, and a whole lot of biting my tongue. I had opportunities to change my life during this period but never seemed able to pull it off. That is food for thought right there. There were times when I was unemployed, times when the job market was booming, when I could have made a change, learned a new skill, braggadocioed my way into a whole new career. Timing, bad decisions, non-decisions, fate? Who knows. It's history now, baby.
I woke up in 2005 when I was laid off for the final time. My employer consolidated accounting departments with the company who purchased them and they wiped out our accounting department because another one existed in South Carolina.
I was 51 at the time. I did not want to spend one more second in corporate america, couldn't even fake it anymore so I decided to become a bartender. A brilliant decision on the surface of it. I have the personality, I have done extensive research on booze in my lifetime, and I dig the job. I figured I'd find a job in a cool blues joint and make some good money for a change doing something I enjoyed.
I didn't analyze the situation deeply enough. I overlooked the fact that I am not a 23 year old woman with epic cleavage. No restaurant, bar or music venue wanted me, and trust me I went out on a lot of interviews. I ended up at an American Legion where a 20% tip is considered extravagant, practically illegal. I made no money. I have left that job three times in 5 and 1/2 years, trying to improve my station in life. My current job at The Booze Emporium is the latest attempt.
At The Booze Emporium I have met restaurant owners and bar managers from many local establishments. This is where the timing thing comes in. The possibility exists that I could talk my way into a shot at bartending in one of these joints now that they know me. I could be dead wrong here, but personality is an integral part of being a bartender, and now that these guys know me as lovable and cuddly, they might be willing to take a chance. Ironically, years ago, I applied for bartending jobs at two of the restaurants that regularly buy their booze from us. Twice at each joint. Got blown off all four times. Kind of like telling Stephen King he would never make it as a writer. Well maybe not quite that dramatic but it feels that way to me.
So I'm wondering......if I worked at The Booze Emporium before attempting a bartending career would things have been different? If I got work in a busy, music oriented place and made good money doing it, I would have been a very happy man. Of course now I am burned out on the bartending thing and have no interest in getting home at 3:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning, so if an opportunity came along I would say buzz off, buster.
It's an interesting thought, though. My life could be completely different based on the chronology of how jobs came at me. Of course I tell myself that it is all fate and that this is the way it is supposed to be and that I will go on to bigger and better things from where I am at now. But I have to wonder if previous decisions and experiences have affected this situation in a negative way, resulting in my current status as part time bartender and part time Booze Emporium clerk. A dubious status indeed.
Now I am plugging away, changing myself, trying to change my situation, trying to create my own timing, trying to influence the fickle hand of fate. I don't know if my professional life up to now has been a mistake, or if it was all meant to be, pointing me towards a golden ring that I cannot see just yet.
But at the ripe old age of 127, I think I am more aware, more prepared to jump on an opportunity that comes along, if indeed there are any left to come along. I'll keep my eyes open and my mind aerated, fresh with hope.
It's comforting knowing that if everything falls apart, I work in two places that can provide me with the raw material to deal with that eventuality. But don't bet against me.

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