My morning commute is on auto pilot. Mindlessly pounding the pavement down Irving Park to some weird playlist I created on Spotify. Spending more time looking down at the sidewalk until I reach Pulaski, where I dodge cars making one last dash to clear the intersection. Always running the red light and the thought is exciting if today is the day I'm going to witness a fender bender. Rocking back and forth like the old wooden roller coasters, I sit in the familiar last train car on the Blue Line.
Watching it as it gradually fills beyond capacity. Joining the dozens of other passengers in the spectacle of people watching. Step off the Clark/Lake stop and its like a river rapids of people flowing through the tunnel. The escalator acts as a human conveyor belt sending the traffic back up to the surface. Just a few steps and I walk in through the revolving doors, past the security guards, and join three to five lawyers in an elevator waiting to get off floor nine.
Today is different. Today, is my last day. Not my last day forever, but my last day at this job. During the 4th of July break, I got an offer that I could not simply refuse.
It started when I had my fifth concussion in my Sophomore year in High School. All football related. After a month of constant migraines was told that I wouldn't be receiving clearance to play Football again. It was truly a blessing in disguise. Probably like many High Schools, we did have an AV Club. I tried so hard to fit in with the Jocks, but best friends were the nerds who were part of what was called Fort TV. They would broadcast the football games tape delayed. When I got hurt, I was asked by my friend Ben if I was interested in providing commentary to the games. Since I knew the Varsity team so well, and I couldn't play anymore, I thought "What the hell, why not?"
For the next seven years, during High School and College, I was a sports broadcaster. Went through my lumps. Received some horrible criticism from fans, which later in time became compliments, and then later some national recognition. I got an the opportunity to broadcast High School basketball games for Fox Sports North (now known as Fox Sports Wisconsin). Made a whopping $75 a game, but hey, at least I got paid. I became a Sports Director for the campus TV station, and even had my own shows on TV and Radio. If you would like a good laugh, here is my resume tape:
Unfortunately, 2008 was not a good time to start finding a job. A lot of radio jobs I was in the running for (Like the Binghamton Mets) became unpaid internships. To make money I started to work for AT&T. Simply because they were the only company hiring in the Fox Valley area up in Wisconsin. Went from Tech Support to Sales and something clicked. I found out very quickly I was good at selling people crap that they didn't want or need, but I could convince them that it was the right thing to do. Some of you will find this funny as I do a horrible job of this in my postings. Thanks to this new skill set, it allowed me to find better companies to work for, and think about settling down. Essentially, I gave up my dream of working in the Media industry just because I made good money.
After dealing with some personal bullshit, I found myself in Naperville, IL. I took a sales job as it was an escape out of my life in Wisconsin. Escape is the right word, because this company/role was not for me. I stayed on for a year going to business to business out in the suburbs. It was not ideal and I hated every day of it.
Then I got a chance. The company I worked for last time around this year, asked me through LinkedIn if I was interested in an interview for a role. The stipulation was, that I had to work in downtown Chicago. Doesn't seem that tough, but at the time I was living in Woodridge which meant I have to take a Pace bus for 20 minutes, drop me off at the Downers Grove Metra, and take an express train to the city everyday. Horrible commute, but after I was offered the job after the face to face interview, I took it because it was an escape.
A year later, and I finally feel like I'm at peace with myself. I have a wonderful home life with my girlfriend, steady job, and an opportunity to grow with this company.
And I'm giving it all up for one more shot.
On Monday, my commute will be mostly the same, with the addition of walking up two flights of stairs from the tunnels at Clark/Lake, and take the Green Line to the West Loop. An exciting time for this area with the best restaurants, new lofts for rent, and of course new business development with Google moving in. There will be a bounce in my step. Because I get the chance to chase my dream again. I'm working for a Media company, not in a role of a broadcaster, but developing new business and projects. It's like...getting create my own TV/Radio show again. That thought brings a smile to my face every time I think about it.
Yet, I'm sad. The role I am serving for the last time has given me so much. Allowed me to move from the suburbs to the Irving Park neighborhood which I fell in love with. My girlfriend and I found our own place to call home. I developed my leadership skills, made great connections, and found new friends. I honestly see myself staying in this role for a long time. And that thought makes me sad. Sad, because I'm leaving a great team and routine that has helped me get to where I am today which is a MUCH better place I've been in a long time. Sad, also, because for a time I thought about not chasing my dreams and officially considering it dead. That thought, is a self inflicted punch in the stomach. We are told that it shouldn't matter where we are in our lives, that we have to continue chasing our dreams. Well, that's a hell of a lot easier said then done. Dreams require attention, time, and devotion. Life requires the same. When you have people counting on you, there is no option to being selfish. In the end you will not only let down them, but yourself as well.
I'm 28, I'm not married (yet), no kids, and I don't have a mortgage. This is the best time in my life to give my dream another chance. If it doesn't work out, I know what I'm good at, and I'm not closing the door. If this new opprotunity does not work out, I know I can come back to this role, and that's a reassuring thought.
How does this tie into baseball? There are 19 days left where General Managers are deciding the fates of employment for many ball players. These ball players all have stories about the difficulties they have endured to get to this point. Some are lucky and they can decide where they are going, and some are not. Some will look at the move as a dream: perfect location, perfect team, perfect opportunity. Some, will look at it as an escape from a bad situation. Escapes can turn out to be good, and escapes can put you in a worse state than before. I know the world of professional sports is vastly different than what is considered "normal" lives. I feel though, that no matter where your standing is on this planet, that we can all relate.
In my last two weeks, I'm lucky enough to close out a deal which I will handing over to a friend I made here, which will garner him $3,000 dollars. I won't see a cent of it, but I know I am walking away on a great note and I am feeling more confident than I have in a long time to my next opportunity. I guess all I could ask as a fan, that the current team follows suit. We are beyond at this stage of the season where wins or losses matter. Its about development, and what the future holds so there will be a time soon where we hang on for every win or loss. As long as they deliver on the field, and be a good teammate it will only help them to their new destination. The packing of the bags, clearing out your space, and shaking hands with everyone one last time is something I think we can all relate to.
What a wonderful experience the last day is.