We are not Singular

Leaves are falling at a faster rate despite the very high temperatures for this entry into Autumn. This poses a peculiar problem, because I am in the process of trying to keep the house clean and tidy awaiting my wife’s return along with her traveling companion. The issue is that no matter which way the wind blows, leaves pile up at the back door and inevitably are tracked in by either myself or one of the two beagles. In the past twenty-four hours I have vacuumed the floor three times.

There are times when we all just want things to be done right, and by right I mean my way, the only way. And this is true of most things we do, especially when you find yourself in sole control. For instance, when my wife does arrive home this evening, I shall relinquish control back to her. Until then, leaves, bugger off – don’t make me get the Hoover.

This week has been a lot about control, and sometimes lack of control. My day’s schedule was set by my mood. Working long hours in the garage fixing Tilly was rewarding, frustrating, tiring, and resulted in a few small physical injuries. But I controlled every aspect of what I was doing, and in my mind, I was making all the correct decisions. Despite it taking nearly three days of labor, sweat, blood, and tears, the job was done. The lug nuts torqued and hubcaps secured. Driving Tilly now inspires a bit more confidence that when faced with a yellow traffic light, it is possible to slow down and stop before it turns to red.

But working from home, taking vacation at home, does have its drawbacks as I was still too close to the real work and it was always close to me, reaching out with texts, calls, and far too many emails to count. Although, being on a conference call with your hands covered in grease and oil while sliding underneath a sixty-five year old vehicle does help to relieve the normal work stress. But trust was something I had to have this week. Trust in others to make the right decisions. Trust that they would remember the details. Trust that they could fulfill the mission. No doubt that in nearly every occupation now, people are not as redundant as they once were. When someone is off from work, they are missed as they bring something to the team that is unique and often impossible to replace. If not, then they’re probably not worth having on the payroll.

So, I could not fully escape the responsibilities that too often encroach on just living. My career is not my life, and I probably would never be a person that would find any career and make it my life. To me, there is too much about the “home” that is precious and should not be mixed with work.

Having said that, though, when the wife is away I had more freedom and lack of guilt to answer these calls, chase emails, or have long conversations in the evening while not upsetting the home and work balance. And it wasn’t a large burden. I still felt free, up until yesterday afternoon that is.

A client was upset that product made for test was not correct. It was a Friday afternoon, and the folks at the plant are now scrambling for a Plan B. And my phone lit up. With a sigh of regret, and while working on my fence, I spent over two hours talking through all the options. When the plan was finalized, I still felt the guilt. The trust in the team was waning, and though I know it will tick my wife off when she finds out, guilt of not being involved despite vacation was too strong. So, I snuck out today for several hours. Dogs were fine, house clean, laundry done.

In the end, this relieved the stress. This allowed me to regain trust. This was a sacrifice that only I would feel, but I could live with that knowing that any help I provided may change the outcome for the good.

Was it a control thing? Maybe, in part. Trust? Yes, some. Guilt? Sure. Knowing what the team went through this week, just being there means that if we go down, we go down together. We are not singular. No one demanded control today. We just worked side by side, lifted a finger when we could, and focused on the task. Now, one of the team members was left alone to finish, gave up more of their Saturday, but I shall also make sure that they get their time very soon just to unwind.

Now, if I could only train these dogs to use the Hoover. Just the once?



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