RECORD STORE TALES Part 320: End of the Line #4: A New Start
My last day was a Wednesday, and Jen had come down to Kitchener from Brampton to spend the evening with me. I remember driving down to pick her up at the bus station in Guelph. I recall being very happy with my last day, and optimistic about the future.
My plan was this: I was going to take the Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday “off”. I wasn’t going to do anything those days. I was just going to enjoy the first four consecutive days off that I had in ages. And I did enjoy them. I bought the movie Office Space and imagined what it would be like having a non-retail job.
Then, Monday, I was going to begin the job hunt. My goal was to apply for at least one good job every single day. The strategy worked. I had an interview by the Wednesday of the following week. The interview went very well. I was told that my personality was one of my strengths, as was my creativity. I had been stifled before, unable to use these strengths to their full potential. The agency told me they had no doubt they’d find something for me soon.
I celebrated by buying a comic book, and I headed home feeling great.
A week later I was placed at my first new job in over a decade, with Aecon Industrial in Cambridge. Nervous and excited at the same time, it was there that I began my new life. I was surprised how different the atmosphere was. At the Record Store, there was always tension. There was also micro-management. I couldn’t do anything without somebody breathing down my neck and changing what I was doing. The ironic thing was that on my reviews, I was always told that I was a micro-manager. Meanwhile, I had been micro-managed by those above me into despondence. At Aecon, I was left to work at my own pace and my own way.
I remember showing up for my first day at Aecon. There were two new hires; myself and a fellow from Quebec. We both wore ties. The manager we were reporting to, Al, strolled out and gave us a briefing as to what we would be doing. He also said, “And you can take those ties off, you don’t need those things around here.” We both removed our ties immediately with a sigh of relief, and the three of us shared a laugh. It was a good first day!
However, the shadows of the past continued to haunt me. I was afraid to ask questions. At the Record Store I never knew if asking a question was a good or bad thing. Sometimes asking a question, even for instructions to be clarified, resulted in my office bully getting mad at me. “You mean you weren’t listening the first time I explained this?” I heard that one at the Record Store a couple times. It took me a while to get used to asking questions again.
Once I had settled in, life became so much more relaxed. Having every single weekend off was a luxury I hadn’t known before. It felt like I was living in the lap of it, even though I was making less money. I learned that money is not everything in life. Happiness and family are. The previous three years were a very, very dark place. I don’t need to paint a picture. On the outside I’m sure nobody knew. I wore a mask. I put it on every day when I left the house. But it is a tiring thing to wear a mask, and it is a rare day today that I still need one. For that I am most grateful.
To be continued…