I’ve gone through a lot of changes since I last made an entry here, too many to recall off the top of my head. Perhaps the biggest is that after 15 years of delivering pizza, I’ve decided to switch careers and move to something new, exciting, challenging, and rewarding. But let’s back up a bit.
On Friday, May 8th, I was on my way to a customer’s house. I had stopped for a soda at a convenience store on the way. As I was leaving the store, turning left, a car to my left was turning into the lot. There was no traffic coming from my right. As the car to my left slowed and signaled, I slowly pulled out, and no sooner had I cleared the entrance than an SUV that was behind the turning car smashed into me. The driver of the SUV had ripped around the car that was slowing to make a turn. This was not a double-lane road, though the lane is fairly wide.
After a month of waiting for news, the insurance company ruled this my fault, even though the driver of the SUV had broken traffic regulations by making an improper pass. To make it worse, someone who saw the crash ratted me out as a delivery driver when my insurance company talked to him. They saw me offloading the delivery which was, surprisingly, unharmed in the crash. Because I don’t have commercial insurance, they’ve withdrawn themselves from the claim. I knew then that my days at my current shop were numbered. Once the store’s insurance got wind of it, they would likely tell the owner that they weren’t going to cover me as a driver, and so, I would lose my gig.
I fell into a terrible depression for a while. I just couldn’t catch a break. The week before the crash my back had gone out again and I missed a lot of work. A lot of the money I had saved up began to deplete. Then the crash sidelined me for another couple days. Once I got my latest car I had hoped to get back on track, but I was suffering inside. Even before I got the bad news from my insurance company, I was fearful- still am fearful- every time I get into my car. When I went to work I asked myself, is this the day I get in another crash? I used to be such a good driver prior to 2012. I had a couple accidents over the span of 12 years but none were my fault. These last few years have been awful for me. I don’t know what’s changed or why this keeps happening to me, but I did know that I simply couldn’t do this anymore. I can drive to and from a place, but spending 7-10 hours a day driving in stop and go traffic was no longer an option for me.
So what do I do? It might come as a surprise to some but self-confidence is hard for me to come by. I know I am good at things, but most of the things I am good at don’t pay the bills. I’m a good musician. I write some pretty nifty songs. I used to be good at lifting before my back injuries took me out of that game. I still know how, I just can’t really “do eet” without risking re-injury. I’m fairly good with the written word as well, but at best, freelance writing is supplemental income if you can find a paying gig. So, in my black hiraedd (thank you Katharine Kerr) I had to ask myself a lot of very hard questions.
The castle is burning. It cannot be saved. I can escape, find a new place, and start over, or I can stay here and watch my world crumble and die, and perish in my own sorrow, mourning what used to be. I realized that I stood at the crossroads of a major change in life. Everything would have to be new. There was no way to make a gradual transition because time was not working in my favor, and because every day behind the wheel made me more agitated and stressed out. Something broke through and I discovered that I wanted out so badly that I was now willing to risk everything to be gone. My anger flared at the career I worked at for so long. This was my reward for putting in so much time? Still making less than minimum wage and having to rely on tips? Still unable to afford the right kind of insurance that would have saved my ass from this debacle? Still working with no future to look towards- no retirement, paying out of pocket for my own health insurance, not a dime’s raise since 2011- what the fuck am I doing this for and why? Ten years ago I could have truthfully said it was because I was pursuing my musical endeavors with real purpose and I had the dream of opening my own gym but now? Treading water. Staying because it was safe and the money was adequate (not great, but adequate). I had gone beyond settling, I resigned myself to the truth that this was going to be my life, that I could hope or ask for nothing better.
My best friend, Randy Fry, said to me after I got the news from my insurance company that “perhaps this is the universe telling you to get the fuck out of this place”. I knew the truth of those words and they stung, but I was also uncertain and scared. Yes, I needed to get out, but to do what? Jobs that would pay me enough to live on didn’t grow on trees, I have no marketable skills, no degrees or training. Leave here and do what, wash dishes for 70 hours a week? With my physical limitations, even doing grunt work was questionable. I felt so defeated.
And then… something happened. Something that planted a seed. And that seed began to split and tiny roots began to form, and before you know it, an idea had sprung into my mind. Another friend and I happened to be talking one day and his job came up. I asked him what exactly he did and when he told me, I felt as if a bolt of lightning had pierced the darkness around my heart. He works as an in-home specialist for adults with intellectually delayed development. He helps these individuals with their day-to-day living to varying degrees. Why that struck such a chord in me… I can’t say, but it did, and I felt almost called to look into this kind of work. He is not the only friend I have that works with the disabled. As I expressed my interest in this to others, I discovered that I had several friends who do this kind of work in various capacities. They all encouraged me to seek this out and believed I would be very good at this kind of work.
I started to believe that as well. I also began to see how my 22 years total in customer service and retail has given me a lot of insight into how people work. As much as I ever complained about the bad things involving my job, I’ve always liked interacting with people. I’ve had many customers over the years who had various physical and intellectual disabilities and I always made sure I spent more time with them, talked to them, listened to them, knowing that I was going to be the only other person they saw that day. I like making people smile, and they, in turn, loved it when I came to their doorstep. Could I do this kind of thing full-time? Why couldn’t I? What was stopping me? There was a raging river of reasons trying to push me into this, and so, I finally let go of what was, and swam with the current.
A few weeks ago I applied for a position with the company my friend works for). I interviewed on Monday, June 30. Two days later, I got the call saying they were offering me the job at a good starting rate, full time, and closer to my house than my current job. I accepted and on that Thursday, I gave my pizzeria my two week’s notice. I started orientation and training on July 13th. I am currently in my first week of full-time employment at my new job, no longer in the pizza business. I was nervous and scared and excited all at the same time, still am to some degree. A lot of “what if” thinking that I’ve had to push aside and focus on “what is”. I am a clean slate. I am brand new. I know nothing, Jon Snow. In a way, that is good, because I am not bringing in anything from my past other than the person I am, and they really liked that personality during my interview.
I know this is long, in fact, I haven’t even touched on how my car broke down twice since the bad insurance news costing me $1140 total. I would be remiss if I did not express my overwhelming gratitude to everyone who helped me with money and moral support during this harrowing time. I wouldn’t be here without all of you. None of this would have been possible if not for the love and support of many others.
Thank you all.