Need Food for Thought? Chew on this!

* "Chew on This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder" is a book of inspirational short stories by Gary Brock and Kelly Tuck, and is available for purchase here!

*Words of wisdom for inspirational thought are at the end of the story!


I shut down my computer, slowly pushed my chair under my desk, strolled to the doorway, and allowed myself once last long look at my home away from home from the past fifteen years. Leaving the building keys on the cleaned out desk and walking out the front door for the last time filled me with a combination of anxiety and liberation. After twenty years serving in the same career, fifteen of those years with the same company, I had decided to accept my severance package and take an opportunity to make a left turn in my career path with a new company in a sister industry. I had figured it was now or never. Leaving an old job on Friday and beginning a new job on Monday, I pulled out of the office parking lot, nodding to myself as my eyes glanced briefly to the rearview mirror. No rest for the weary. But everyone had always said that grass does not grow under my feet.

The first day at my new job was interesting to say the least. Let’s see, the computer doesn’t work, the telephone system keeps malfunctioning, I was assigned a new Smartphone after finally mastering my flip phone, meaning I don’t have a clue as to how to operate it. The copier/scanner/fax machine isn’t programmed correctly… O-M-G, what a mess! Of course, it is at that point that the mind takes over and brings every single doubt along with it. Did I make a huge mistake? What were you thinking when you agreed to this? Oh, that’s right, you weren’t thinking. How could you just throw away a twenty-year career?! I wonder if they will take me back? The self-doubt was an endless rampage throughout the few minutes of internal panic. All of this compounded by the old company scrambling to tie up the loose ends that always arise whenever a tenured employee leaves because there was simply no way all of the bases could be completely covered before the exit date. So I said, “Call me if you need me.” And guess what? They did!

As usually, after a few weeks on the new job things started taking shape; however, everything was still not exactly quite right. There were a lot of elements dangling up in the air, which reminded me of an episode of “The Twilight Zone” of a baseball “tweener,” because that’s exactly where I was. Stuck “in between.” Maybe I should have taken some time off, got away, went to the beach, done some reflection. But it was too late. I was all in.

One evening on my way home from work, my son called and wanted to know if he could stop by to talk. I told him I was headed home from work, and would be ready to discuss whatever what was on him mind in half an hour; that would give me time to decompress from the frustrations of the workday. During our brief phone conversation, I did not ask any details although I knew something was bothering him; he only asked to talk when he wanted to bounce ideas off of me.

After changing my clothes, I walked into the den to find my son sitting on the couch staring at nothing in particular. When I sat down in the chair beside him, he slowly turned to meet my gaze. “What’s up?” I asked.

“Well,” he sighed, “I have decided to end it with Courtney.”

“Really?” My head titled in a questioning fashion. Courtney had been his significant other for about three years. He’d been very serious about his relationship with her, despite my slight concern and suggestions to take things slowly.

“Yeah,” his brow furrowed slightly, “it has been coming on for some time, and I think it has gotten to a really good stopping point for the both of us… So I am going to go ahead and end for good. We talked about our relationship a lot last night and I think she feels it is coming to an end. I explained to her why I felt the way I did, and she told me why she acted the way she did. Of course, I still don’t get why she acts that way, but that is her and I have decided that I do not want forty some years of dealing with that behavior, so…it’s over.”

“Son,” I replied, tipping my chin slightly, “I am very sorry to hear it, but better now than if you had married and had to deal with a divorce. I guess I see it as a short term pain for long term gain.” He nodded and his gaze lingered on his hands folded in his lap. I studied him briefly before continuing, “But, I am thinking that this is not why you want to talk to me, is it?”

“No,” he replied, lifting his head. “There is this girl that has just started working in my office, and well…I was thinking…” He drew in a short breath. “What do you think about me hanging out with her?”

“Well,” I let his question roll around in my brain for a few long seconds, “let me ask a couple of questions. First, is there any kind of a policy regarding dating coworkers? And what does ‘hanging out’ exactly mean?”

“She is in a totally different department, so according to the Employee Handbook dating would be fine, and, you know, ‘hanging out,’ like maybe going to dinner or lunch, or to a club…something like that.”

My mouth opened slightly to reply but before I could utter a word, a soft call sounded from the kitchen. “Boys!”

Both of our heads turned to the doorway. Whenever my wife referred to us as “boys” I knew a teaching moment was about to occur. She stepped into the room carrying a glass of water, a spoon, and some potting soil. My eyebrows raised slightly in amusement. She had obviously stopped right in the middle of her indoor potting project to share her insight. My son and I both stared at her attentively.

“I could not help but over hear your conversation, and I want the both of you to think about this.” My face must have betrayed my confusion as to why she was including me, because she nodded at me as in confirmation. “You jumped from one job directly into another without any down time.” She then nodded at our son. “You are wondering about jumping from one lady friend to another without any down time.”

We both shared a knowing glance while straightening up in our chairs. Mama had our attention. She held up the glass of water, spooned in the potting soil, and stirred it up. “Relationships,” she continued, “whether personal or professional, create a lot of intermingling, just like this water and soil; it becomes muddy. You just cannot start and stop these kinds of things – you need to let everything settle. What happens if you keep stirring the muddy water?” She paused briefly, just for emphasis, before answering her own question, “It stays muddy. Most things, like this, take a little time, so take it. Remember…

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*Chew On This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder is available for purchase here!

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