Points of Departure

So you slide into the big corner office to announce your intentions and you’re telling yourself you feel okay about this. It’s exactly nine months to the day that you and your compadres found yourselves milling around the hallway like lost lambs after the fateful email.

What the email had said was, hey, everything changes, you know, all creation—planets, stars, entire solar systems— everything incinerates sooner or later and you’d have to be some kind of subterranean dimwad to think you were immune. And, guess what? There’ll be some changes around here which you’ll hear all about from your personal personnel person… and you’d closed your eyes and envisioned the approach of Snead, the gaunt, chain smoking lifer from the second floor who’d corral you for an early lunch and deliver bad news while smecking tuna chunklets from between his teeth and staring somewhere just to the left of your right ear lobe.

You thought back on playground days and weren’t you always the last one picked for a game of hoops?

Somehow you dodged the bullet, but every Friday the jet from HQ would drop from the sky like the Angel of Death and some faceless little nabob with a short list would slither into Human Resources and it finally dawned on you that the sum of all the decisions you’d made to that point in your life had neatly placed your future into the hands of absolute strangers.

Then one day you talked it over with the spouse and you decided to do what you’d longed to do, yearned to do, which was to start a business of your own. It’d be dicey what with the kids in school but the plank was getting shorter every day and the stress was making your hair fall out.

So you slide into the big corner office and announce your departure and they ask you where do you think you’re going, Buster, and you say something about greener pastures and the next thing you know legal’s in there saying you’d better not be telling anybody and we mean anybody about Project Lonestar and words like hyperclustration, coplexic nanoarchitecture and maleolectronic acceleration better never cross your lips, pal, because we know where you live and accidents happen, right?

And then you’re really glad you’re leaving.

The old gang throws a little party in the big conference room and you wax nostalgic and they wish you the best and you slip out for a butt and watch a fat guy in a green jumpsuit wheel your credenza down the hall.

Well, you’ve thought this through, you truly have, your own business, and so you jump in with both feet as they say. And what happens is your working capital disappears faster than steam off a wet doggie, you trade down to a sensible Buick, juggle Visa and Mastercard and tap dance for bankers who stare at you as if you’ve just hatched from a large speckled egg and are frantically picking goo off your moist feathers with a long yellow beak. Big, splashy companies ask for bids which never come to anything and after a while they won’t even return your phone calls!

Along about the 1500th cold call panic sets in and you begin to question your judgment, your ability—a man’s got to know his limitations, doesn’t he? Weekends don’t seem like weekends and you like to say that clients are hard won and easily lost but you haven’t won or lost any and you can starve to death, you know, waiting for someone to consider a proposal which, with a thimbleful of insight, could make him a star!

Persistence and self-motivation are the keys and you admit you’ve always misplaced your keys and things get really shaky and you wonder what’s going to happen when the well runs dry, and you imagine yourself squeezed into one of those hoary luminescent orange chairs in the employee lounge at the Office Depot filling out a job application, and, no, you’ve never had diphtheria, rabies, hives or trench foot. And you just feel like quitting, you know?

You become inert gas in the bubbling cauldron of the human experiment and finally out of the blue somebody says yes and you really do almost say pardon me?

A gig!

And you speak glowingly of strategic initiatives and break-through creative and you labor nights and weekends and eventually some cash comes in and you take the family out for a little celebration and, even though you’re nowhere close to where you once were financially, it’s okay because something deep inside you has awoken, and your life is becoming something you can actually feel.

And, who knows, with a little luck, this whole goofy thing might just work out.


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