Sunday, February 19, 2012

Just Do It!

Girard Bank, Trust Operations Department Philadelphia 1984
Where I worked as a manager

There comes a time in all of our lives in which we question is this what we want to be doing with our lives?  This was brought to my attention again this morning when reading a posting of a fellow blogger.  He was returning from vacation and made note that most of his friends either were retired or living off of some allowance.  In other words, they weren't working. He said he was envious.

Me, the Manager - Girard Bank, Philadelphia, PA

I felt the same way twenty-five years ago when my good friend Big Bob finally decided to leave is secure and well paying job at a brokerage house in Philadelphia.  I have known Bob since my Army days in 1960.  We met often for lunch.  At that time I worked for a big city bank a couple of blocks away for where he worked at his brokerage house.  We both had the good paying, prestigious jobs that our parents dreamed we would have.  I liked my job, I had a great boss and was well paid. We were living the American Dream.  We were not happy.

Me and my friend during one of our many lunches when we worked in Philadelphia

For years my friend agonized over whether or not to leave his job.  Then came the day he left.  He had bought 22 acres of rural woodland in Sussex County, Delaware.  He wanted to change his life.  All he had on that 22 acres of woodland was a shed for tools.  His plan to start his own business as a handyman at $8.00 an hour.  No more dealing with diva brokers, no more dealing with the daily commute to and from Philadelphia, no more getting home late and collapsing only to get up the next morning to do it all over again.  Finally he would be his own man.

Bob made the plunge. For the first two weeks he barely came out of his windowless shed.  He was convinced he made the biggest mistake of his life.  However, after two weeks he came out to do a small handyman job.  I knew he was good at what he did and I told him that once he started to do his work, word would get around and he would't have a problem earning money doing handyman work.  Of course he would never make what he made at his job in Philadelphia but he would have a Life.

It wasn't long until he brought a used single wide trailer.  Not too long after that he had a well installed and running water.  For the past thirty years he has lived there (now in a double wide) with his partner of 27 years.  He has never been happier.

My friend's "castle" - his single wide in the woods of southern Delaware

My own story is similar.  I also had the daily commute job to and from Philadelphia.  I envied my friend for taking the plunge and changing his life but I wasn't quite ready to do it myself.  But one hot and humid summer day, as I stood on the train platform at Suburban station waiting for the conductor to open up the train cars so I could go home I made The Decision.  I too would leave my well paying, prestigious and secure job for the Unknown.  Within a few months I did leave and I have never looked back.  I have never been happier.

Are we rich?  Not in dollars but I have my freedom.  I have a Life.

When I informed Bill (my partner) that I quit my job he got physically sick.  I had told him some years before to quit his job because I was earning enough money to take care of both of us.  Now I quit my job, how were we going to survive?  Bill was so sick he went to bed.  My Mother had the same reaction.  She felt as if I destroyed my life.  She also was sick.  I wasn't.  Was I nervous?  Scared?  You better believe it.  But I knew I was doing the right thing.  I knew I was healthy and would find something.

I quit my job at the bank in Philadelphia in 1986.  It has been quite a ride to say the least since then.  I worked at a few other banks and even at once time worked for $8.50 an hour on a businesswomen's estate mowing her grass and planting flowers.  I worked for a while as a consultant on my previous experience as a bank operations manager.  Then I found the job I have now, hotel front desk clerk.

Me working at the Hampton Inn, Lionville, PA 2000

I work now part-time.  I want to work part-time.  I will always work part-time as long as my health holds out.  I love meeting people and I like the unpredictability of working at a hotel.  I've always loved that aspect of the job.  I like the people I work with.  I like the location (near the water) where I work. I also like earning the extra money, while not a lot, does enable me to splurge occasionally on myself and gifts to friends and family.

I have a good life.  None of this would have been possible if I was afraid to take that First Step and quit my job.  I can think of all kinds of cliches here.  "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."  "You only live once." 

The best advice I can give to anybody who is feeling the need for a change but feels trapped, is just do it.  Make the change.  No one can do it but you.

I know of other people who have made the Change.  None of them has regretted it.  In fact they all have the same response "I wish I had done it sooner."  

Me in Delaware, not a corporate bigwig but HAPPY!

Some people move to another part of the country or even another country like France!  Some others adopt  children they always wanted.  Are these changes scary?  You bet!  But how do you want to live your life?  Working five days a week with a couple of weeks off every year to take a quick holiday that is over much too soon?  Just remember, there is no reward that doesn't have some risk. You have to have faith and confidence in yourself if you want to change your life.  And only you can make that decision.


Vương Tử Trực said...

I hope I won't have such a big decision in my life. I'm actually scared of it.

anne marie in philly said...

change is always scary. but you and bill are probably richer now in LIFE, not material goods.

good on ya, mate!

wcs said...

Right you are, Ron! Am I the France reference? Because that's what I did. At 43, I left a well-paying job in San Francisco, sold my house on the hill with a bay view, and Ken and I moved to France with our dog. That was nine years ago, and we regret nothing. We traded in our unhealthy work-related stress for an adventure.

It's not all a bed of roses, but this is life and living and we are much happier in our simpler lives.

Ron said...


You know whereof I talk! Yes, you were the France reference. I did not know the circumstances of why you are living in France but I suspected that was the reason. You understand so well why I made the change in my life. If I would have stayed at my job in Philadelphia, I would probably be dead now. Even though I was making a LOT of money, I had no life. NONE. I was very unhappy. In fact I was suicidal. My friend Bob felt the same way. After he made the big change in his life and I saw the effect it had on him (he was smiling again although he didn't have much money) I thought it was time for me to the the plunge. It has been quite an experience but I do not for one moment regret my decision. I knew I would survive somehow and I did. The most important thing is that I am smiling now. All my life I wanted to live near the water in a brand new house. I am there now and I couldn't be happier. Of course this change didn't come easy, none do. But it was well worth all I had to go through to reach this point. Staying where I was wasn't an option. It was a slow death. Each day to me today is a gift. Totally unlike in the past when each day was a "just get though today". Best decision I ever made in my life.

Ron said...


I was afraid too. My decision was the scariest thing I ever did in my life. But I am so glad I did it. I now have a life.

Ron said...

Anne Marie,

You are so right, Bill and I are so much richer in life these days. We don't have the money like we had but we have more, a LIFE.

nitewrit said...


In 1969 I quit and walked out of the job I got after high school. I was making relatively good money for the times, had a good reputation at work, but I couldn't see doing that job for another ten years, so I just quit, wrote a novel and did freelance writing in Philly. I took a job welding bubblegum at a dollar an hour part time. I am glad I made the move. I think life got much more interesting. My only regret is I didn't wait three more months to do it because then I would have been vested in the pension.