As I reflect on my life, my conclusion is that I am not so clear on subtlety. A well-crafted joke, great package, and delivered with perfect timing will illicit the response, “What did I miss? What is so funny?” from me. Once I have someone far more in tune with these things explain what is going on then I laugh and enjoy the moment as one ought to – however out of sync it may be with the rest of the group.
Yeah, I’m that guy.
But this goes far beyond those awkward social situations. I find the same frustration in life as well. In that same half hour sitcom that my family and I studied in preparation for moving out to the prairies there is an episode celebrating the New Year and specifically New Year’s resolutions. Just moments before the New Year is rung in the group announces to each other what their resolution is going to be. The main character tells the group that he is going to stop eating chili cheese dogs just as the final five seconds are counted down. The camera scans up at the final seconds with the New Year being rung in and then pans down to the main character eating a chili cheese dog.
This is me.
I have tried to learn from my past as we all ought to but I keep landing in similar places. Over the years I have gotten somewhat better at avoiding those classic pitfalls but no where near as frequently as my counterparts, and more importantly, no where near as much as I had hoped. This restaurant job was one of those moments. What the hell was I doing? We had just sold everything we had, downsized to the extreme, left everybody we knew, family and friends, uprooted our large family and squeezed ourselves into student housing in the middle of the prairies, where it was still snowing in May, all so I can go work in a neighboring city at the same restaurant doing the same shit that I had done back home?
But, even better, I was now in the exact same situation that I was when I came back from my leave years earlier, only I was on the other side of the equation. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do that to this manager and I couldn’t do that for myself. Corporate games is not my thing. I played them long enough and I just don’t have the stomach for it. Although I was given the inside track this time and could have possibly made myself a lucrative career out of it – I just couldn’t do it. If I was going to trade it all in to become an asshole I should have not moved out to the prairies but stayed where at least my children and my wife had family and friends to console each other with.
So I quit. This time, I told myself, I would just focus on my schooling. No more fooling around. It was time to get serious and more importantly finish as soon as possible so we can get around to what was next.
And then it occurred to me, like a subtle joke that I was asking everyone in the movie theater to explain to me while the movie continued playing on. It occurred to me that I hadn’t given any thought as to what was next. What was next? The joke was on me. There was no next. There was no plan. There was school and then there was staring out at the infinite horizon, with nothing there to block your view.
But, as circumstances often do, my immediate attention needed to be on something more pressing. As I looked ahead at my degree requirements, especially now since I was accelerating my schooling, I realized that I needed a year of full-time counseling practice as a graduation requirement. To complicate things I needed to find an authorized supervisor that was a part of the same professional association that I was now a part of. My options were limited. The head professor of the counseling program was an approved supervisor and he was head of a counseling center in a neighboring much larger city about an hour or so away. As it turned out that center gladly accepted students into its practice, both to help out the student in getting their hours but also to help out the non-profit center as the students worked for free.
The problem was that the center was full and was not accepting any more students. It seems having a school that graduated therapists with master’s degree meant that the surrounding cities were saturated with said graduates. Not wanting to accept defeat and working from a place of desperation I examined my options and came up with an idea. Through a connection at this center in the large city I was introduced to the executive director of the regional food bank. Drawing on my business experience and appealing to the executive director’s desire to provide more comprehensive services to their clients I proposed the opening of a free, drop-in counseling center at the food bank.
I would do all of the administration of it and provide the counseling services as well. We would do it in partnership with the counseling center and weave it into the operations of the food bank. Both the executive director of the food bank and the professor loved the idea so I set to work immediately on getting it set up. I was now back on track with my plan on graduating early. I would make this happen beginning in June of the following year and would run it as a pilot program for the year, which would provide me with the hours that I needed and the research to see if they could make this happen on a permanent basis.