(The following guest Rants ‘n Raves was submitted by Mrs. Arthurnator, also known as my wife, Karen)
Approximately 29 months ago, my husband was granted an amazing opportunity.
When Arthur was first laid off from his job of nearly 10 years in December 2009, we certainly didn’t think so. We were mad, frustrated and nervous – especially nervous. We found ourselves in the company of many who had lost their jobs through no fault of their own, including others who had made their careers as print journalists.
Fortunately, we were able to keep afloat, through freelance opportunities from old friends and kind strangers. But the overwhelming cloud of unemployment still hung low, reminding us every day that nothing was guaranteeing our future. Interviews were few and far between, and despite dozens of calls from enthusiastic recruiters, there was nothing much to tell.
Much happened in the months that followed. In April 2010, my mother suffered a heart attack and came to stay with us for a month of recovery. Since Arthur was home, he was able to attend to her needs. In the months to follow, he took care of home repairs, errands, and things the boys needed – all while freelancing and applying for jobs every day.
In March 2011, my mother’s health deteriorated to the point where she needed to move to an assisted living facility and later, a nursing home, in Pennsylvania. In the two months, I made several trips north, with Arthur holding the fort at home, and eventually accompanying me to deal with my mother’s imminent death.
All the while, I began a medical journey through doctors and tests which ultimate resulted in the need for major surgery in July. Arthur was by my side through it all.
Then last fall, my youngest daughter came to live with us for a fresh start. Again, Arthur shuttled and supported wherever needed.
There was still no permanent job on the horizon. But in early November, our luck changed. Arthur began an in-house contract position at Red Ventures, a marketing company that I like to refer to as Disneyland. After 30+ years as a print journalist, my husband was writing and editing copy for a new medium – the Web.
Not only was he employed – not permanently but close enough – but his world was about to change. For the first time in many years, he was surrounded by smart, fun people with fresh ideas. Many young in age, and nearly all young in spirit. He was praised for his efforts, instead of being criticized or nitpicked. He began to help others improve their skills and work effectively as a team. He had opportunities to network, socialize and genuinely feel like he was a valued part of something bigger.
And I had my husband back. He was the guy who once loved to coach youth sports and mentor young reporters and interns in the newsroom. He looked forward to going to work, constantly interacted with his co-workers on Facebook, played basketball in the company gym, enjoyed gourmet lunches, baked cakes and told countless stories of his daily adventures. Most importantly, he was an old dog learning new tricks, running right along with the young pups in the yard – and loving every minute of it.
I think life sometimes makes choices for us that we would never make for ourselves. While no one wants to be unemployed, an unexpected detour on life’s highway can result in new beginnings.
Many years ago, we had a mid-career friend who was displaced from his high-paying job in corporate America. The next day, he started selling Christmas trees and eventually ended up as the head of the local YMCA. I remember Woody telling us that he had never been happier.
This week, Arthur was fortunate to become a permanent employee of Red Ventures. During the interview process, he stood true to his values and offered praise and encouragement to potential rivals. I don’t think he ever wanted anything so much, or was so happy to receive it. But even when he was overjoyed inside, he contained his excitement out of respect for teammates who would now move in other directions.
And while job security is most reassuring, the riches we’ve gained from this whole experience are not monetary. We’ve had time to devote to what’s important, stop and smell the roses on the path less traveled and begin a new journey, living life the way it was meant to be lived.