On Tuesday, they finally fired me from my second job--the one I'd never have taken except it provided health insurance.
I'd known it was coming. The job was taking reservations for luxury hotels where the basic room cost was several hundred dollars per night. The guests were bankers and businesspeople, conference attendees and vacationers. We were expected to convert a given percentage of our calls into reservations each day, and I'd had my last chance to make the sales quota. It's hard to sell something you privately think is immoral! Guests were paying thousands per night for a suite with butler service, when little kids are going to bed crying from hunger, and regular people can't afford basic life needs like health insurance and dental care? I could never quite bridge the gap.
And yet...reserving those rooms also meant there was money to pay the chambermaids and desk clerks, the maintenance workers and lawn care workers and the beach crew who swept the sand each morning to be sure it was neat and clean. Somebody got a paycheck for walking around each evening lighting all those candles on the patio and around the pool. And most of the people I dealt with making the reservations were pleasant and polite...often making reservations for their boss or a client.
I can't even write a diary saying that the company I worked for was horrible, because they weren't. They took training seriously, promoted from within, and are one of the few to have great benefits in this time and age.
But I find myself feeling giddy knowing I don't have to spend 5 days a week answering phone calls, making reservations, untangling problems, handling corporate customer service calls. For three years the last thought when I went to bed was "tomorrow I have to go on the phones again" or "at least tomorrow I work my other jobs, and not the phones." The misery of being tied to a phone line, trying to follow someone else's script for a fine product I didn't believe in was soul-killing. As soon as I knew they'd be pulling the trigger, my physical pain levels dropped and energy rebounded. I haven't stopped smiling inside ever since.
I'm old enough to do early retirement, although it will cost me plenty in the long run. And I'll continue my true calling as a pastor. Medicare is within reach. And suddenly I have to pinch myself because there is time, there may be time, for all the things I once loved but never had time to develop due to school, or children, or spending years working 60-70 hours per week to survive. I can become more active politically. I can do artwork. I dreamed of starting a photo-slide show business, but never had time to produce more than six or seven shows. Now....who knows?
How many of us are trapped in jobs that are killing us--mentally and spiritually and perhaps physically--by the need for health insurance? We play games with ourselves and tell ourselves we can endure it for a few more years. It's needed. It's the real world. We're responsible. And we die a little bit inside every day.
I know I'll come crashing back to a new "normal" in time. But for now, I'm just ecstatic to be free of the bondage of a job I detested, and happy to see the world with a joyful, playful heart again. The world is full of pain and grief and limitations--may we all add our bit of lighthearted beauty to the mix.