During this time of floating in the purgatorial state of Between Jobs, I’ve been required to suit up for the occasional job interview. It’s been a while, to be sure, and it all feels a little off after ending a career after twenty one years at the same company.
We had a good run these last two decades, this job and me, but it feels good to make a change. It really does. I’ve been gifted with the resources to go back to school, while considering the possibilities of Career 2.0.
But, ugh, y’all. Interviews. Sure, I know can’t get hired anywhere without going through the matchmaking process. But my interviewing skills need some dusting off. Nobody said as much, but I get the feeling, you know?
“Tell us about what you feel is your greatest asset,” they ask.
“Oh!” I say. “I know this one!” I perch closer to the end of my chair. Whoops, too close.
“It’s my positive attitude.” I cry. “It’s ridiculous. If somebody says the sky is falling, I’m like well, better grab an umbrella. What? Give you a real life example? Yeah, so this happened. I get a separation package when my job turned drinking age and I’m all [whoot!] Total Career Change, y’all.”
“…,” they say, turning over my resume to see if they missed some critical piece of info on the other side. “And you’re like this all the time?”
“Well, no,” I say. “Of course not. Good stuff happens to. You should see when I get a good parking space. There’s no living with me then.”
You know I’m exaggerating here for the sake of art, right? I’d never be so inappropriate as to raise the whoot roof, so to speak, during an interview. I think I read that advice on a LinkedIn article.
And so what’s the obligatory antithesis to the Greatest Asset question? Right. They want to know about your opportunities for improvement. Your Greatest Weakness. No prob. I got this one, too.
You see, I take on too much and end up sacrificing something otherwise useful, say like sleep or breathing, to get everything done. In my attempts to fill up life with everything I can, I pump up my stress levels.
I am sorely aware of my need to be choiceful about how I commit my time. This fatal flaw of mine transcends from gainful employment to volunteerism. So of course there I was on another rainy Saturday morning, wondering why I agreed to volunteer at the day’s event; a full hour’s drive away.
Let’s be real here. I wasn’t even asked. I contacted the organization and, taking the combo of both noun and verb volunteer to heart, asked if they needed a Pet Therapy team for their weekend camp.
Because it just seemed a brilliant idea to me. This was a camp environment for youth that have experienced a profound personal loss in their young lives. A place for healing. Of course, there’d be counselors on staff. But what about the quiet presence of a therapy dog? Wouldn’t that be of a certain benefit?
I was thrilled to find they agreed. But as the day got closer, I started to get that tickle of doubt. After all, what do I know about healing the wounds of the soul?
“Why did I do this?” I asked The Husband. “What was I thinking? I have so much on my plate with the job search and school and … why did I think that I could make a difference when I don’t even know what to do?”
“Go,” says The Husband. “You committed to it. Take Micron and find out.”
And so on that Saturday morning, with windshield wipers slapping, Micron and I navigated the long drive to a recreational campground outside Cincinnati.
You’d think I’d learn by now. It has so little to do with me. I’m just the chick who holds the leash.
Because, you see, Micron knows exactly what to do.
Whatever it is, some proprietary canine sixth sense perhaps, the dog knows when to lighten a moment with his golden antics or when he should just be still to allow a quiet moment to be stroked.
During these times I busy myself with writing in a notebook or some other benign activity that allows Micron a one-on-one session without my interference. Keeping a mental eye on things to make sure nothing goes awry, I otherwise offer little engagement. The dog gives full attention to his new handler while their own style of communication goes on.
He gives full eye contact, permits a full body hug even when that’s not really his favorite thing.
A tweener lies on the floor next to him, spooning along his back as she talks gently to him. Only he can hear her.
Whether he understands her words or not doesn’t really matter, does it?
While the others are involved in camp activities, there may be some who stay back. It’s their choice, of course. Only encouragement is offered here, not pressure to participate. Yet, there is a dog over there in the corner looking your way. Would you like to brush him for a few minutes? See, he especially likes this on his tummy.
In the art cabin, my dog is ready to hear about your memory project as the glue dries on the photos.
Later at the high ropes course, Micron and a few camp counselors are offering a photo op for the photographer (this is my good side, Micron says), when my dog turns his head. He breaks from the group to beeline towards a young fellow sitting on a bench.The two bend to touch foreheads together.
How does he know?
I have to be honest here. This gives me chills. Every darn time. I’ve seen my dog do this too many times to dismiss it as mere coincidence.
And I wonder how someone of the likes of me ended up as the caregiver of this amazing creature.
As we end this day of time-well-spent, there is talk of continuing this thing of pet therapy with future youth events.
And of course, I agree.
Because I’ve decided to be choiceful of how I commit my time.