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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Lived Well

This morning I woke up at 3 AM to catch an early flight out of Charlottesville, VA. I couldn’t fall asleep last night because I’d suddenly recalled a minor work annoyance that had taken place at 330 PM and my brain decided it was enraged about this now. When my alarm went off, I was convinced I hadn’t slept at all. Then I remembered a small scrap of a dream and decided that I must have slept.

While driving to the airport, I sneezed twice. I momentarily diagnosed myself with COVID even though I am vaccinated. Then I drove past a skunk that someone had run over and decided I didn’t have COVID after all because the smell of the skunk was overwhelming. Win? For me – not the skunk.

I’m flying to spend a long weekend with my fully vaccinated mom. I’m working today but am already fantasizing about a nap due to the fake zero sleep and the very real 3 AM wake up. Honestly, I could have slept longer. The Charlottesville Airport is very small. It has one runway and a handful of gates. It’s hard to believe you can take off from this sleepy little place and an hour later be walking through the United terminal in O’Hare. If you’ve never been inside the United terminal at O’Hare, you’ve probably seen it in a movie. Although – don’t ask me which movie. I woke up at 3 AM, remember?

I’m sitting at one of a handful of gates, sweating under my KN95. I’m so over this shit until I remember that I haven’t had a cold in the entire year of handwashing hypervigilance and mask wearing. So maybe that’s not so bad after all?

I recently gave my notice at a job I’ve held for years. A job I left once and returned to again in the senior living industry. I’d come back to work in the new starts space and then COVID crapped on that and I was reorg’d into a job I’d left in 2017. There are parts I won’t miss (see minor work annoyance above that had blossomed into rage) and then there are the people. I will miss the people. Well – most of the people. If an HR person ever tells you they love all the employees they interact with, that HR person is full of shit. Honestly, I thank my lucky stars thoughts don’t appear above my head in a thought bubble or I’d be in trouble with HR. Anyway. Back to the people I will miss. There are many. A part of me thinks I’m crazy to walk away from the people – a year into this pandemic in a place where I really don’t know many people at all. I’ll be part of a fully remote workforce with my new company (and if you new people stumble across this – I TOTALLY LOVE ALL EMPLOYEES!) that has the same number of employees that one of the buildings I currently support has. I’m the first HR hire and am excited to build and create a scalable foundation that the company can grow from and to influence the culture. I’ll be reporting to the CFO which to me is preferable than reporting to another HR person – mainly due to the time that I reported to someone very well compensated who didn’t understand FMLA. Or other basic HR principles. This person was successful because they were smart enough to hire people who were smart and worked hard. Back to present day – I will miss most of the people at my current gig but I will not miss talking about COVID which is a very real, daily, ongoing discussion when you work in the senior living industry. When COVID began, a senior leader with whom I work closely accurately predicted that there would be varying forms of PTSD following COVID. I agreed but didn’t anticipate I’d be one of those with a self-diagnosed, mild form of PTSD. I don’t want to work in an industry where people’s very lives are a worry. I admire those who continue to shoulder that concern. You people are heroes! There are some individuals who thought those of us relegated to our homes, for the most part, during the pandemic got off unscathed. That we had it easy. And sure – we did in a way. Our exposure lessened in comparison to ours. We didn’t have a front row seat to COVID. But what we did have was a bird’s eye view. A broad look at the numbers – and to what those numbers represented: People’s lives. We shared the helpless feeling that those in the front row experienced.

In the end, and it's almost the end for me, I did the best I could. And I hope I made a difference in some small way in the lives of all the employees I came in contact with - even the annoying ones.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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