Do you ever wonder if decisions you’ve made over the years were the right ones? Had you chosen differently, would your life today be better or worse?
My very first job in the legal sector was as a legal secretary in the estates & trusts department of a large law firm. After many years, I upgraded my employment to a secretary/paralegal position in the legal department of a local hospital. After being downsized out of that job, I found myself working as a paralegal in a small firm, doing both real estate work and estates & trusts work. I worked for that firm for 18 years, during which time the estates & trusts work was delegated to someone else so that I could concentrate on real estate matters. You all were with me when that firm folded and I subsequently took my next job as a real estate paralegal in a high-volume law firm (a/k/a The Job From Hell). I lasted just over a year on that job, and my health suffered dramatically from the stress.
When push came to shove, I knew it was time to stop doing the paralegal thing. I had clawed my way up to a paralegal position, and I had a good reputation in the legal community. But enough was enough. Been there, done that. Proved to myself and everyone else that I could do it. I didn’t need to do it any more.
Time to quit. I retired.
The game plan, of course, was to take two or three months off to concentrate on household renovations and then to find a simple, part-time job. I truly expected I would wind up working for minimum wage as a store clerk, burger flipper, or call center representative. I was ok with that. A job’s a job. My budget had been cut severely to accommodate a lower salary, and the reduced, less stressful hours would be beneficial to my health.
As the “retirement” period went on, I began to get nervous. At my age, would I be able to find anything? Would I have to go back to full-time just to pay the bills, if I did manage to find someone willing to take on a senior citizen? I figured I would have to accept the very first job that came along, regardless of what it was or what it paid, and regardless of whether it was part-time or full-time.
But as you’ve heard me say before – networking works! And as you know, I found a new, perfect job simply by sending the right email at the right time.
Now, having bored you all with the recap of my life, let me say that I just completed my first four-day work week at my new firm, and I am very, very pleased with my new job. I have my own small, but private, office (see photo at top of this post) with a window I can open and a door I can close, and I even have my own tiny coat closet (see photo to right). My last job was in a windowless closet, so my work environment has definitely improved.
It’s a two-attorney firm, and there’s only one other staff member besides me. Everyone is very friendly, helpful, and patient. At the end of the week, I decided to make a small commitment by purchasing a desk lamp for my new office – and trust me, that’s a definite indication that I plan to stay. On my last job (the Job From Hell), I knew within only a few days that I had made a mistake – and for the entire year, I did not take anything personal into work, not even a tissue box.
My new job is 9 to 5 – much better than the 7:30 to 5:30 I was working in The Job From Hell (and never managing to get caught up!). Despite the longer drive, the daily stress level has become negligible. There have been no nightmares caused by this job. Ok, it’s only been a week, but from what I’ve seen, I don’t expect the stress level to get cranked up in the future.
Puppy Cody has already adjusted to the fact that no one can come home at lunch time. We make sure she gets extra attention (and exercise) when we do get home in the evening. She seems to understand that her life is no different than that of other dogs with working owners. Even on my day off, she sticks to her sleep-all-day routine and refuses to let me take her out at lunch time, so I think this will all work out.
My working life has come full circle. Once again, I am a secretary doing estates & trusts work, and I like it just fine. I made myself a career, and I excelled at that career, but now it’s time to sit back and let the younger folks deal with the stress and the grief. My current colleagues seem to value me, my work environment is livable, and I can pay my bills. I have one extra day off per week. Life is good!
Oh, and by the way, due to Not CM’s recently reported demise, Teddy Rosalie has adopted ShadowPaws. We’ll see how that works out.
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Images by Cordelia’s Mom