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Fear Strikes out…

That was the title of the book and movie about Jimmy Piersall, a former Major leaguer who battled with mental illness his entire life. I borrowed the title because I’ve been battling with a few demons for the past few weeks. Some days I get a few licks in… some days they win.

Not today.

After weeks of waffling, I walked into the office of my manager and handed over my resignation letter. I’m not going to lie and tell you that I didn’t enjoy the moment, but for days I was terrified.

When I was 29, I left a great company for another job. I did so without a moment of fear.

When I was 40, I decided to go back to school and try to make a career change. It took a few weeks of planning and a bit of encouragement from my family, but once I made my decision, I was good to go.

Now, at 47, the stakes are a little bit different. A few years ago, after being out of work for a while, I took a job simply to get paycheck. I figured that I would be able to get a job in no time at all. A few months later, Lehman collapsed, the world went on fire and the jobs all but disappeared.

Six years later, opportunity finally knocked. When it did, I froze and then hid under the bed. Then, I crawled out from the darkness, pulled up my bootstraps and headed down the hall.

Let me back up a bit…

Last night was pretty busy. Lots of mundane phone calls and a few important ones. After a while I started to get frustrated. I wanted to just say, screw it… I don’t really work here anymore. But somehow, someway, I was instilled with a work ethic.. it’s not like those people who LOVE to work hard, its more like… if you’re gonna do a job, do it right. So I finished my shift.

As the night wore on, I started to get increasingly agitated. At around 6:30 am, I decided to tell my two co-workers that I was planning on giving 2 weeks notice in the morning. At first they didn’t believe me. Then they were mildly excited for me. Then you could see the mixture of envy and jealousy creep across their faces. Then, finally, after it all settled in, they began to realize that not only was I leaving, but I wasn’t going to be replaced.

One of them muttered.. Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, as the thought of one less body began to seep into his consciousness. Suddenly, they weren’t as happy for me anymore.

When the moment of reckoning came, I went to my managers office and asked if we could speak privately. He said he’d be with me in a minute.

Did you know that a minute has 60 seconds in it? Did you know that each second is a long interval and that when you string 60 of them together it makes one minute. Lots of thoughts can happen in 60 seconds. Doubt and fear can creep in and take hold of your brain. Regret starts to make it’s way up your spine. The voices get louder with each passing second.

“Don’t do it. It’s a mistake. Settle for the easy path.”

When he came into the conference room, I almost didn’t give him time to sit down before I launched into the speech that I had rehearsed all night. You ready?

I’ve taken a position with another firm. I’m giving you my notice.  

Then I handed him the envelope with the resignation letter, and I shut up. Despite every urge to explain myself, I managed to shut up.

I was hoping for an expression of pained betrayal, but what I got was the look of a confused dog; head tilted, ears perked. Then he stammered.

Ok, good. Er… Good luck. Thanks. Ok. Well, Ok.  He read the letter. Then he said some small talk about nights being a tough shift. I said, yeah. Then he stammered some more before we shook hands and parted ways.

I won’t pretend that I wasn’t gleeful at his moment of confusion, but I won’t pretend that I wasn’t disappointed that he didn’t say, “We can’t lose you, we’ll double your salary and give you a car with a driver.

It was the most ambiguous ending to a relationship I’ve ever had. Most of them end with someone screaming… You selfish pig!  But that’s a different blog entry.

I left feeling 10 pounds lighter, like a burden had been lifted. But the fact remains, my life is going to get a lot harder in two weeks. I’m going to have to report to a job in Manhattan at 8am on a Monday morning. I haven’t done that since 1990. I’m not even sure the alarm on my clock works. I don’t know if I can go to bed before 11pm. I haven’t tried that in a long time. Look for that column in a few weeks.

For now, I conquered a demon. Fear didn’t get the best of me today. I was the victor this time.

Fear struck out.