Nothing went according to plan last year. Not. A. Thing.
We all know what cataclysmic event made its mark on history in 2020. In fact, we will never forget this. Who could? Although we cannot stop the world from spinning on it axis, we clearly were able to stop everything else. And, I will argue, this was to our collective detriment. As humans, we need one another. We look to one another for love, for support, for guidance, for direction. To be without these connections, these fundamental emotions, is to be rudderless.
How did we survive? We adapted. What we did to adapt is case-specific. As usual, my adaptation took a circuitous route.
I quit my job in August 2020 so I could be available for our son, knowing it was possible that school would again be remote. We moved out of Manhattan because we’d lost our faith in the NYC schools. Having a child of primary school age, we knew that his education had to take precedence. Thankfully, the Catholic school where we enrolled our son worked tirelessly to make last year count. With very few hiccups, he was in school daily from September 2020 to June 2021.
Quitting my job was scary, but it also gave me a chance to do something I’ve never had the opportunity to do. In the morning, I walked him to the bus stop. In the afternoon, I waited for him at the bus stop. We spent afternoons together, something I may have enjoyed more than he did. Sometimes, I helped him with his homework, although my assistance was not always welcomed. Not surprisingly, he challenged me quite a few times. Although the “mom” side of me often countered the challenge, the lawyer side of me cheered his ability to push back. Watching our children grow is, in my opinion, one of the most gut-wrenching and beautiful things we can experience.
When no per diem law job materialized by November, I took a job at Lowe’s. I am not constituted to be without a job. In fact, I get restless. Add to this the change in our fiscal picture and I knew I needed to join the workforce in some capacity. If you shop at Lowe’s, I was your “Internet Picker.” If you submitted an online order, I was there to fulfill it. Did you order a light bulb? Or a shovel and rock salt? Perhaps you ordered treated lumber. Or, in my opinion, you ordered too many pieces of tile for your remodeling job. Whatever you chose, I picked. If you ask me to describe that job, I would tell you it was humbling. I worked until my feet hurt. I picked up, pushed, pulled and dragged items that made my muscles sore. Having carried my telephone in my pocket, I learned that I moved approximately 7 miles per day.
I worked with some wonderful people. As we loaded lumber, or cement, or bricks, or stone, or something commensurately as heavy, we spoke about life, and goals, and about our families. I learned where they came from, and where they wanted to go. Some talked about school. Others discussed the opportunities provided by Lowe’s and where those pathways might lead. At each conversation, I encouraged progress. I am hopeful some of those conversations resonated.
In the spring, as the world crept back to something near to normal, I found a legal job that fit the needs of my family. I left Lowe’s with a few friends, and I was reminded of a few invaluable lessons. Good people are everywhere. Every job has value. Communication is key. Taking care of our families is paramount. What we find is often more valuable than what we lose.
And I learned one more invaluable lesson: never tell the old Irishman in the paint department that you are a lawyer. He might just ask your guidance about how to cash a five-figure check in a place that isn’t a bank, and how to use that money to buy a horse.