The Year I Figured It All Out

The first 23 plus years of my life were not great. I had issues. I spent way too much time in the Principal’s Office. I was sent to a school with a student body of about thirty. I made High Honors one quarter, honors twice in a row and from that point forward half assed academics.

The first two jobs I had after school were also not good. I was not a fit at my first job. The second job I was surrounded with mean people who repeatedly set me up and made me look careless. November 22, 1989 was the day it bottomed out. And for a long time it looked like I would never be what I wanted to be.

On February 14, 199o I answered a classified ad for a File Clerk. Anything to get back in the game. The HR director, Anne, looked me over and said ‘You’ll be bored with this job in 20 minutes. BUT we have a job that JUST opened up. Wait here.’

I spoke to Walter, the Director. He told me about the job, doing Sales Tax returns. The guy that was there was good, but slow and he missed deadlines. The job sounded a little over my head but Walt asked me ‘Is this something you think you can handle’ ‘Yes,’ I said. Then he said I would meet Steve, the direct report. ‘What time can you come in?’ he asked me. ‘Eh, about 10 o’clock.’

‘No,’ he said. ‘You will be here at 8’ And he said as I left ‘Don’t be late.’

I had a feeling the job was mine if I showed up. But what to wear? My suits didn’t fit and I didn’t have an undershirt. So I wore a sweater vest and a tie. And I left the house at 7. So early the building was still locked. And I sat there reading a copy of the Wall Street Journal. Steve came in, I introduced myself, and I explained my qualifications (I worked for H&R Block and my supervisor loved me — which I needed badly at the time’

Presidents Day I got the call. You’re the guy, they said. They lowballed me, but I didn’t care. I was in the game and I was an Accountant. A Junior Accountant, but I didn’t care.

From there it was a magical year. I excelled at what I did. What took three weeks to do I did in two days. Largely because I wanted Lotus experience (remember that?) and I used Lotus to do the returns. Walt (a very hard man to please) was very pleased.

That wasn’t it. My relationship with my brother improved and still is strong. Then I went to the Y and got myself in shape. I dressed better and wore suspenders — the real ones that buttoned. I went to Anderson Little (remember them?) to buy my work clothes. I had dates with pretty girls. I went to Disney World, for the first time. I was going to go solo but this woman, Diane, insisted I go with Jerry, a trainer at the Y. We flew down there in Trump Air (remember them?) I met my coworkers one by one. Other managers were impressed by me. And they liked my knowledge of sports. Walt called this one girl Onya ‘The Big O’ ‘You know who The Big O’ is I asked Walt. ‘Oscar Robertson!’ he said.

When I was a kid there was a book ‘Leo the Late Bloomer’ He just puttered around and then, one day, he bloomed! That was me. I bloomed beginning on February 14, 1990, and then February 26, 1990, and have kept it up since then. Since then I have had highs, and lows, and a few regrets. But it all turned around for me in 1990. And it’s still going, over three decades later.

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“It is called a medium because it is very rare that it is well done.” — Ernie Kovacs

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“It is called a medium because it is very rare that it is well done.” — Ernie Kovacs

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