Boarding

“Sir, are you boarding?”

Ticket in hand, at the front of the line. The woman behind the ticket counter extends her hand. I rub the ticket in my hand, unsure of what to do. I look back at the people behind me staring impatiently. This is just about the pinnacle of a terrible situation for an introvert. All eyes on me as I hold things up.

“Passenger Branli to gate N401 please. Passenger Branli to gate N401,” an announcement booms overhead.

“Passenger Branli,” another voice overhead, “please report to gate S201. Branli to gate S201.”

I look at my ticket, I’m set for gate D411. That’s where I’m at. That’s where I thought I was going.

This is sort of how things have felt the past few days. As I get loaned from one location to another, I’m having a hard time deciding where I want to be.

“Where do you want to go? Where do you want to be?” is a question I get often.

“I don’t know. I’m not sure.”

And not knowing isn’t entirely a bad thing. It doesn’t mean I’m not happy with whatever offer comes my way. Uncertainty isn’t rejection. Certainly not rejection. I’m very grateful for the offer–very grateful for the opportunities.

Things changed recently and very quickly. Mid afternoon last week I got pulled aside from my boss’s boss and I was told I was being re-assigned. I was happy about the news, happy to be trying something new. However, I could see the sadness, see the worry in my boss’s boss’s eyes as I agreed to the new assignment. It meant I was moving away from her organization, far beyond prior assignments.

“I want you to always make the best decision for you and your career,” she made clear.

“It’s just a loan, right?” I asked her.

“I’m not so sure anymore.”

Later that night, as things set in, I paced around in the kitchen, smiling, laughing, and soaking up the prospects.

“I’m so thankful. I’m so thankful,” I kept repeating to myself.

I’m apprehensive and nervous about the new position. Though I have to remind myself that I was nervous about my current position when I took it almost a year ago. Now, granted, this position I’m offered is temporary, with possible offer. It’s not unlike the other offers I’ve had and it’s why it’s so hard to make up my mind on where I see myself in the future. And yes, I’ve heard all the comments; “oh, poor boy with all the offers and possibilities. You could have no offers or possibilities.”

Gawd, I hate those comments. It doesn’t nothing to quell the apprehension, the nerves, the real fear that I could be making the wrong career move. What if the position I accept ends up getting terminated? What if it moves to another state and I can go with it? What if I’m not any good at it? What then? Where would I go?

I’ve been in a relatively safe position for the past ten years, and things are getting more serious as I take on new roles.

I’ve put in a lot of time and effort at work. I feel I’ve more than done my time–especially with moving to Texas for four months. That was harder than I thought. It certainly cost me personally. This isn’t to say I deserve anything, but rather to question how much more of myself am I going to put on the line now that things are more serious?

I barely have enough time for me these days. And I miss that time. I miss my free time, I miss my friends, and I miss writing.

I see my superiors and colleagues sacrifice so much of themselves for work. I see their health suffer. I see their personalities change. Work is all they breathe. Yet, that’s dedication. That’s what making a career out of a job is about. And that… that’s why I struggle so much with making a decision.

For now, I take on my new roles proudly and appreciatively. I fully intend to do my best and then some. And, as “gates” call me to report to another “terminal,” I shall answer each call as best I can. I just hope that in the end, I’m not left without a terminal to report to.

Possibilities

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Terminal State

A silence falls across the airport. The monitors displaying flights and random news segments shut off. The people stop talking. The power goes off. The beautiful stranger I had been talking to disappears. In an instant everyone else in the airport is gone. It’s empty and I’m alone.

My steps echo in the vast empty terminal as I walk up to the nearby window to the tarmac. There’s no one outside. Planes sit idle at terminals and on the runways. Tilting my head up, I breathe out against the window, momentarily fogging it up. The planes in the sky lay frozen in place.

I should be alarmed. I should be scared.

I caress the warm glass, purposely breathing heavy on it as if to verify my own existence. Again.

Still here; I tell myself.

I turn around. Nothing. Still empty.

I’m still here.

This company acquisition has certainly taken over my time. It was expected and a part of me welcomed it, if only to get over someone…

It put a strain on a relationship, something I had been working on for about four months. The busy and odd schedule ultimately made it hard to foster and care of such a new relationship. And so, it ended shortly before this last trip back to Texas. Fully anticipating a busy schedule, I welcomed the return to Texas. It would keep my mind busy. It worked. It gave no time to lament, to mourn, or otherwise torture myself with any sort of regret or broken heart. Though, with every notification on my phone, my heart felt a jab, hopelessly expecting a text from a certain someone. That took a while to fade.

Working about 15 hours a day every day since the 28th has certainly helped keep me busy–though it’s also set some expectation that I’d always be around to put out a fire. Missed breaks. Missed lunches. Constantly having people come up to me to the point where I’m “assigning numbers” to the people waiting. Having people walk with me (helping on the go) as I walk to someone else that has a question. Endless conference calls. Many arguments. Playing ‘musical office’ as I pick a different location throughout the building every day to avoid people. Having senior leaders hide me from other senior leaders in an attempt to horde me for their own special project needs.

However, I’m grateful for the opportunities. Flattered that most think I’m in a senior management position when really I’m just “a technician.” I’m happy to impress, quick to please, and first to put aside my own well-being. Sadly.

Only recently have I mustered the courage to say ‘no’ and pass up duties even when they come from my superiors–now this isn’t done defiantly. It’s not without redirecting my superiors to alternate resources. And really that’s what it’s about. I’ve come to train a workgroup, show them the ropes, and it’s time to start handing things over and empowering those here to pick up the pace. It’s a great thing to witness. And it’s been very exhausting to be so needed, but it’s time to hand things over.

For about a week I was in a room every day, being interviewed by different levels of management to gather everything I knew. “We’re here to help you go home,” they’d say. “The faster we can put to paper everything you know, the faster you can go.”

I’ve never seen such beautiful flow charts–or so many–in my life. In the end, I felt used and siphoned of all value. Sure a part of me felt happy to contribute, but another part of me felt like I had given everything about me that made me, me! Among the piles of charts, documents, and scrawls on notepads… was me. Everything I had learned about this business in ten years. This giant pile. This room of people. This was it. This was me.

In the room next door I could senior leadership “passionately discussing” processes and strategies.

The lead guy across the table smiles. “We recommend you stop learning new things.”

I’ve never been so busy.

“Walk with me,” I’d say. “You’re going to be my sticky so I remember to come back to your question otherwise I’ll get pulled aside.”

The person would cock their head back. “But I’m not supposed to leave my desk–.”

“Start walking or you won’t get your question answered!” I’d grab a sheet of paper. “Write this down…”

Then someone else would come up to me. “Quick question.”

I’d smile. “There are no quick questions. You’re number three. Walk with me.”

“We hear you have this tech named Branli and he’s being requested in Florida by a manager.” I’d hear on a conference call.

“You can’t have him,” someone would answer.

This didn’t stop techs from getting my phone number. I’d get calls at all hours of the day and weekends, techs in the field asking for help.

Sigh.

This has been my life.

I’ve asked at least two senior managers to be able to join their teams. In at least one instance a manager that overhead my request interjected and wanted me for their team instead. This is all verbal for now, so it’s not to say anything is written in stone… or paper. Although, it’s nice to know I have options. It’s nice to see the “planes” will be moving around this terminal again. It’s a brave new world out there.

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