Suddenly, my LinkedIn inbox is overflowing. Congratulations! Congrats! Bob has sent you a message: “26 years. Way to go Dan. Congratulations!” “Wow, 26 years!” Yes, yes I’ve been working for the same company for 26 years. That’s longer than I’ve been doing most things. Well, that was my first thought. That was the way I answered several of my coworkers who asked “have you done anything longer than this?” Then it occurred to me. 26 years isn’t that long. In fact 26 years pales by comparison to how long I’ve done certain other things.
I’ve been married for almost 31 years. My wife has stuck with me for almost 31 years. You can congratulate me; I’m not sure if condolences might not be in order for her. One of the really important things to consider is what I was doing during those early years of our marriage. For some of those years I was travelling as much as 80% of the time. On one occasion, I was on the road M-F every single week for 6 months! Another time, I was traveling to Lowell, MA, every M, W & F for 6 months. As bad as that was, as hard as that might have been for my wife, there was another 14 month period in there when we operated our own business. That was even harder. Congratulations to me indeed.
I’ve also been a father for more than 26 years. So, while I’ve been employed for 26 of one company’s almost 60 year run, I’ve been my daughter’s father for her entire life. I know, that’s just semantics, and I realize that it’s bordering on hyperbole, but it happens to be true. For 26 years, I’ve been involved in largely the same task at work. Sure, I work in technology and technology has changed, but technology didn’t learn how to walk and talk. Technology didn’t learn how to read. Technology didn’t have to be taught how to ride a bike, drive a car, swim, cut steel or use an oxyacetylene torch. You know, all the things little girls need to know.
Almost without exception, parenting has always been an additive process; Faith has been progressing from skill to skill, adventure to adventure. Technology, on the other hand has been a more-of-the-same-only-slightly-different-this-time-around kind of thing.
How about something that’s really obvious? I’ve been alive more than 2 times 26 years! If you go back far enough, you run into the points in time where I learned to walk, talk, read, ride a bike, cut steel and use a torch. You get to the point where I learned how to do the stuff that I’ve done in my job for 26 years. You get to the point where I met my wife and when we brought our baby girl home from the hospital. Remembering these things helps me to put my 26 years of work experience in perspective. It’s really not that big a deal.
I was fortunate to work for a man, very early in my career, who told me that “work is what you do to finance your life.” He added “don’t ever let your work become your life!”
As I look back over the past 26 years, this job has financed a lot of life. Since starting this job, we’ve purchased several vehicles. We’ve been working on the purchase of one house. We’ve bought 4 Irish Setters and 5 cats (actually one of the dogs and all of the cats were free, but free pets are never really free). We’ve bought appliances, tools, clothing and a thousand pairs of shoes. A bit more hyperbole with the shoes, but baby girls need shoes. Interestingly enough, some really important stuff in my life was financed by previous jobs. My first job out of college financed a bicycle that I am still riding today. I couldn’t wait to buy a good bike. I have tools that are older than 26 years old. I have tools that are older than me, financed by someone else’s work, but I’m still using them. When I think about it, 26 years of employment just doesn’t seem worthy of congratulations.
It’s not hard to believe that I’ve been in my current job for 26 years, I like my job. The 26 years have gone by quickly. I might not have noticed this anniversary if not for LinkedIn broadcasting the fact to my contacts. I actually started working on February 29th, so I really only recognize every fourth year. In 2016, you can congratulate me on my 7th anniversary.
On the other hand, it’s hard to believe that, once again we have an Irish Setter puppy in our house. It’s hard to believe that our daughter is grown, living on her own and financing the care of her two free cats. It’s hard to believe that she has been introducing me to new things like social media and blogging. It’s also hard to believe that she has added jumping out of planes to the list of things she has learned. It’s hard to believe that marriages have added a few wonderful new members to our extended family and that death has taken too many away.
Now when people ask me if I’ve done anything for longer than 26 years, I say: “only everything that matters!”