Work Jen Work

Labor Day – the day we recognize and honor the contributions of workers across the country, and the traditional signal of the end of summer. It is only fitting that shortly after this most celebrated day, I get to utter those four sweet words that have been swirling on the tip of my tongue for the past four months: I got a job.

Yes, it’s true. Run Jen Run is Done Jen Done with the agonizing and demoralizing process known as the job search. I have just accepted a job offer and am now in my final week of inactivity before I get to start my cool new job, where I will wear some snazzy new shoes, walk into a tall fancy new building, that I will commute to via a slick new train, and where I’ll interact with stimulating new co-workers.

So what do I do now? What if I’ve forgotten how to function in a corporate environment? I’ve spent so much time telling people what I can do for them, what if I burnt out the part of my brain that controls my ability to actually do those things? Now, after selling myself for four months, I actually have to deliver the finished product. Some assembly required.

Frankly, I’m far more worried about going overboard when I start the new job. I have felt so idle and ineffective for this whole summer that I’m about to bust out of the gates at the first chance I get. I may have to reel myself in so that I don’t freak out my co-workers.

“Uhh, Dave? Who’s the total spaz you hired in marketing? She just introduced herself to all 800 of our employees, individually. And then she read our annual reports from 1984 to 2003. And now I think she’s scanning all our old marketing plans and posting them on the Intranet for easy access. Nice hire, dude.”

I can’t help it if I’m a bit eager to get started on this newest chapter in my life. If you’ve ever gone to an animal shelter, then you know how I feel. Let me tell you a little story about a dog I once knew, that may help illustrate my situation. Chopper ran away from his previous owner because he found the home to be an unhealthy environment, and one that didn’t appreciate all his talents like Frisbee catching and newspaper fetching. He ended up in the animal shelter, and sat patiently in his cage every day, desperately waiting to find a new home.

Chopper was older than a lot of the other dogs in the shelter, a little mangy, and had been kicked around a bit by his previous owner. Some days, people would come over to his cage to pet his nose, but then they quickly were drawn in by the lure of the fat-bellied German shepherd puppies in the corner. Chopper never stood a chance.

For over four months he watched them walk by, peek into his cage, and turn away without so much as a, “Who’s a good boy? You’re a good boy!” Chopper tried to adopt many different personas, hoping that one would attract an owner: the happy-go-lucky black Labrador type that families love, the demure and sophisticated Afghan Hound that would be a status symbol, the strong and outspoken Rottweiler that was fiercely loyal and would protect the family, the spunky and high energy Jack Russell Terrier that made everyone laugh.

Nothing seemed to work, but Chopper never gave up. Sure, he felt depressed and desperate at times, and occasionally contemplated leaving with a family as bad as the one he had escaped, but he never let the families see that. He just worked on keeping his cage clean and his teeth white, and barked enthusiastically at every family who walked by. Eventually, his tenacity paid off and he found the family that needed a reliable and experienced Frisbee catching, newspaper retrieving mutt. And the best part of the story is that this kind family also agreed to let Chopper wear jeans every day, immediately contribute to a 401k with company match, and pay Chopper more than he had ever made at that mean, nasty house he ran away from.

So why am I telling this story about some silly dog? Well, there’s a lesson to be learned here. Sometimes the search for a new home takes a long time, and you may sit in that cage for months, staring at families walking out with their new puppies, wondering why they didn’t pick you. But as I have discovered, with enough time and persistence, every dog has his day. Ruff!

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