Make it work for you

Last week, my former co-worker gave me some really great advice over lunch: “Stop eating so fast.”

I’d like to think that he said it with love after I choked on a grain of rice and continued to eat my soup despite the fact that tears were steaming down my face.

I don’t remember what exactly set off my latest episode of laugh-coughing, loughing if you will, but it very well might have been because I was retelling the story about the time we were on a business trip in Las Vegas and an elderly man crashed a Rascal motor scooter into the front of our client’s trade show booth.

I had forgotten all about that little incident until I was reviewing the updates I sent my colleagues back in New York as I was writing the “More Mistakes” post. I also found a a play-by-play of the power struggle my manager and I had when I showed up on the show floor the first day in a pair of sneakers.

“SNEAKERS?!?!?!?!” he yelled. “Don’t you have SHOES?!”

I did, of course, but they hardly seemed practical for a week of chasing camera crews around the convention center and playing a dance video game anytime someone stopped by the booth.

“I don’t care what you say, I’m wearing the sneakers,” I told him. “You’ll just have to deal with it.”

I should mention that this is the same manager who, two days later, would walk headfirst into an artificial tree after showing up hours late and wickedly hungover. I’ll also add that by that point in the week he had long since abandoned his dress shoes in favor of a pair of tennis shoes. But that didn’t stop my friend from continuing to scream “SNEAKERS?!?!” throughout the rest of the week, usually as I was trying to take a sip of water.

Since I quit my last job, I don’t miss working for that company, but I do miss working with that particular co-worker. We made a decent team, which is remarkable given that he’s everything that I’m not: polished, articulate, diplomatic, slow to argue about choice in footwear. I’m not kidding when I say that he’ll probably run the place in a few years. Time will tell on that one, I guess.

Sometimes I wish I could play his game. I would love to wake up tomorrow and be able to take my day job seriously and be satisfied by doing my work reasonably well. It would be so nice to want to progress down the path that I’m on. At the very least, it would make things a lot simpler. But that will never be the case for me – I can almost accept that now.

“I don’t want to do this anymore,” I said to him at lunch after I had finished my coughing fit. “But I don’t think it’s the right time to leave. I’m just worried that it never will be.”

He shrugged.

“Just make it work for you in the meantime,” he said.

It’s not a bad way of looking at it: make it work for you.

I’m going to try that this week. And next week too. And I’m going to keep at it until even that approach doesn’t work anymore.

Time will tell on this one too.

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