By Tim Hayes
The doorbell rang, and as I opened the door on an overcast Saturday afternoon, there stood a guy I wasn’t expecting.
Actually, I did expect someone to arrive – a plumber, in fact, to fix a problem with a bathtub spigot. But this fellow didn’t fit the description. Plumbers carry an air of quiet exasperation on their faces, right? Summoned to fix simple things that dopey homeowners should be able to do themselves, plumbers look put-upon, feel grouchy, and sound weary, right?
Yet, there on my front stoop, stood a guy in his late-20s or early-30s maybe, toolbox in hand, eyes bright, and smiling like he just hit the lottery. Nah, this couldn’t be the plumber. Maybe he’s selling Bibles door-to-door. But why the toolbox? None of this was adding up.
“Yes? Can I help you?” I asked, through the screen door.
“Sure! I’m from Jones Plumbing, here to fix your tub! I called you a little while ago to let you know I was on my way!” came the oddly chipper reply. Other than him being so doggone happy about it, I decided he must be a plumber after all. He came in, took a look at the tub, and gave me the estimate. By the time I went back to my office to write the check and bring it back upstairs, he had finished the job!
Now I was almost as cheery as him! A plumber who arrives not on time, but early, completes a job with maximum efficiency and minimum mess, and makes the customer feel appreciated and valued? Did this guy skip Grumpy 101 in Plumber College?
No, I just think he’s one of those lucky people who simply enjoys his or her job. I count myself among that lot, as well. And what a blessing it is. We all know people who endure, not enjoy, their jobs. Going to work should be a pleasure, not a punishment, but not everyone believes he or she has a choice.
Sometimes it turns out that you’ve spent too many years with one organization, and you have too much invested in retirement and shared investment plans. You’re trapped. It’s too late to start over somewhere else. Or you take a job not because it’s where your heart lies, but because you may earn more money to care for your family. A noble and selfless gesture, to be sure. But the internal pain, disappointment, and regret that may bubble up down the line can crush the spirit. It’s tragic.
Comedian Jim Carrey, during a commencement address a few years ago, told the story of his father. Carrey said his dad could really be funny, and he harbored a secret dream of making a living at it somehow. But instead, he became an accountant and started building a career down that path – a path that Carrey’s father assumed would be much less volatile and much more dependable.
But that assumption turned out to be not only wrong, but disastrous. Deep into his career, he was let go from his job and had tremendous difficulty finding work again. It got so bad that the Carrey family lived out of its car for a time.
Carrey’s advice to the graduates seated before him that day led to a spontaneous standing ovation – and he wasn’t even near the end of his speech. He said, “I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which is that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
If you, like me, have been fortunate enough to always have performed work that brings fulfillment, joy, and personal rewards, then take my advice and join me in counting our blessings. If you haven’t, maybe it truly is not too late. Maybe it’s worth the effort to explore more satisfying options. Just a thought.
One look at that happy plumber would do the trick. I guarantee it.
Copyright 2015 Transverse Park Productions LLC and Tim Hayes Consulting