New job builds upon old career aspirations

My cousin RC messaged me the other day: “Hey, don’t you think it’s time to update your employer on your Facebook page profile?” He was right. I was overdue to change it, but not without an explanation.

Call it superstitious, but employment and employers have not treated me well over the past few years. It’s made me wary of bosses and workplaces, so I’ve tried to keep a low profile with my recent job change. I was reared to believe that giving your best gets you treated accordingly. But I have discovered that doesn’t hold true.

I was fortunate for the first 30 years of work life (post-Smith Farms) to have favorable employment settings and good bosses. They outlined fair expectations, gave balanced feedback and trusted my judgment. I responded by meeting and/or exceeding their expectations and treating their organizational priorities and budgets as my own: with responsible care.

From ages 18-48, I enjoyed getting up in the morning, going to work, getting the job done and feeling as if I had made a positive difference through my service. My character and performance were valued and validated by my supervisors. My initiative was rewarded through the implementation of my workplace improvement suggestions. I was compensated and promoted. It made sense.

But from 2011-2016, my full-time employment settings were dominated by dysfunctional personalities, land-mined with ugly politics and peppered with competing priorities. None of it made sense. Work was one big double-bind. Sometimes I was punished for taking initiative, then punished again when I stopped. Crazy-making!

With my 2013-2015 employer, much of the staff endured rampant emotional abuse. Multiple conscientious employees were snared in the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t work net. I have never witnessed such large-scale rank and file employee persecution to allay top brass insecurities.

In a short time, I went from singing on my way to work to cringing at my desk. No matter how I put on my big girl panties, I couldn’t deal with it. The highlight of that job was getting fired, making it to possible to collect unemployment and be with my daughter during her stroke and heart surgery recovery.

While unemployed and taking Kate to multiple post-hospital appointments, I became available to play piano for some funerals at Lighthouse Funeral & Cremation. That led to my helping with visitations, errand-running and other duties. I continued to help at Lighthouse even after returning to full-time employment elsewhere.

Lighthouse owner Tate Goodwin was great to work for: a throwback to my past good bosses and probably the most ambitious and hardworking person I know. He possesses exceptional planning skills, an eye for detail and a true heart for people. He made thorough mental notes when he was an employee elsewhere and they guide his leadership. He makes sense.

Quality service and follow-through are not just buzzwords to Tate, but a way of being. He’s genuine and likeable; people like to do business with people they like. It was a pleasure to work with someone I liked, trusted and respected, so you can imagine my excitement when Tate recently invited me to work full-time.

Most people don’t know this about me, but back in Mrs. Merchant’s middle school career education class, I explored funeral home careers. I still have the summary report I wrote. Got an “A.” My dad helped local mortician Ernie Jenkins back in the day. I can imagine a big farm kid was pretty useful to accompany Ernie when he got an ambulance call. Maybe the funeral home work is genetic. Or just maybe God has enough sense of irony to use the death business to breathe new life into this emotionally-recovering mom.

For the first time in 13 years after moving back to this area, I get to work in my hometown. That’s very important to me. It’s where my heart is. While there’s a lot to learn at Lighthouse, I’m already using my counseling, writing, speaking, music, hospitality and faith experience to serve friends and neighbors in their times of greatest need. I don’t have an official job title or description other than to trust God, help others and listen to Tate. Works great.

Think I’ll go ahead and update my Facebook profile.

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