Saturday, February 21, 2009

Shake It Up, Baby

I have scattered several old pocket watches across the top of a small table in my living room. Most show some sort of wear, like the one at the bottom of the photograph, whose cracked crystal allowed humidity to create serendipitous art on its face. But the other one here is pristeen in appearance, though its function ceased years ago. It belonged to Don's grandfather who inherited it from his own father.

The watch had been sitting quietly on the other side of the table until yesterday morning, when Don picked it up, looked it over like he has a hundred times, and absentmindedly replaced it on the table - on top of the beautiful, tiny, 1866 French volume I received last week from
Tara (because I was a winner in her third anniversary drawing!). Somehow, turning it over several times caused the clock to snap back into the service of telling time. It has happened before; it usually lasts for five or six minutes. But ... something about the jostling, something about setting it where he did seemed to re-invigorate the clock's purpose. Strong ticktock has continued for more than 24 hours, accurately moving the hands forward. It's a resonate marking of time's passing (How someone walked around with this sound coming from his pocket is beyond me. And when others also carrying watches came together - what a din it must have been!).

Two years ago this month, I received a call from a recruiter who had been hired by a large corporation to find someone qualified to fill a need. I had registered with this recruiter years before and not spoken to her in almost the entire time, but she called to ask if I would consider meeting with the management looking to fill the position. I balked at first, recalling the pain of a long commute and the stress, but I had very recently come to the hard conclusion that I needed to re-enter the full time work force, reluctant though I was. We were fine, marching in place, but we needed to make some major financial advancement to save for the future! I agreed to the appointment.

My meeting with the corporation was scheduled for the next day, and I arrived in a relaxed state, having taken back roads rather than crazed freeways. There had not been time to become anxious or to anticipate the interview questions. Having worked at home, part time, for four years, relaxed was pretty much my constant condition.

The interviewer was a bright, funny, clearly very intelligent young woman. Generally this process is protracted, so I thought this would either be the first of several interviews or the last time I would be in her office, but after an hour, I heard her asking me to come back on the following Monday to begin working as a consultant until the paperwork (and all that entails) could be completed! Vertigo set in. Was this what I wanted? I did a quick mental assessment. The skill requirements matched mine. Although I hadn't worked in this field, communication and management skills translate across many lines, so I wasn't worried about being qualified. The atmosphere was pleasant; the pay was good; the benefits were attractive; I wouldn't have to dive into the onerous process of "looking" for a job; this seemed to be God sent. And although the commute was one hour each way, there were those lovely back roads. I took the job, and breathed a thankful prayer. The only catch in my throat and stomach-clenching thought was: did I still have it in me? Was I too rusty? Was I too OLD?

It took a while for my body to adjust to routine, for my energy level to ramp back up, for my brain to creak into gear. To be honest, I drug home like a whipped animal at the end of every day for months. I drank lots and lots of coffee to stay alert in all the meetings. Boy, does the corporate world ever love its meetings! I read and read and read more to learn all I could about a whole new industry and a whole new demographic target audience. I pushed and pushed to meet deadlines, the ever-looming deadlines. I delved into technology that hadn't even existed four years prior when I slogged into my home cave.

In general, I woke up. It was hard, and the times I wanted to retreat to my cave were many, but here I am, like that old clock, back in service. My own loud ticktock is valued as experienced wisdom. That is a gift, a gift to me, to be able to contribute to younger people who haven't walked all the places I have walked. The greater, amazing gift to me is to walk behind this fearless generation into places I would never have ventured. We are using social networking - like Twitter and Face Book for instance, to communicate on levels we never dreamed possible in my past jobs. Then we were always trying to shrink our target audience segments by understanding them better and better so we could communicate more effectively. Our ultimate dream was to market one-on-one. And here we are! I'm challenged every day and it's FUN.

I don't know when that old pocket watch will wind down again and go back into slumber, but I'm going to try to keep jostling it so it won't give up completely. I don't know how long this old girl will have the umph to keep up the pace. But sometimes you have more in you than you think. You may just need to Shake It Up, Baby ...


Dutchbaby said...

I love everything about this story, including the beautiful photograph. How you brought your story full circle (if you'll excuse the expression) to the watch was masterful.

I admire your bravery. I don't think I have it in me to return to corporate life. May your clock run for as long as you desire.

paris parfait said...

I love this story; how serendipity seems to have landed this job in your lap; how the watch started running again (and those watches look gorgeous on top of that book) - and most of all, how we can adapt to change. We are all stronger than we think we are; sometimes, we never know just how strong until we're challenged. The job sounds like a very positive development and I'm so glad you're enjoying all the new avenues opening before you. xo