“It Can Wait”

I stumbled across a video from ATT showing a woman in a car ignoring a text message notification. Her brain (animated) pops up next to her and says, ‘Get it! There is a text notification!’  She laughs and says no, it’s just a dopamine hit when the notification comes in and it’s an addiction.   Like chocolate, alcohol, or shopping- you name it- our brains have become hooked on this fix we get from seeing a “Like” show up on our screen.

Two thoughts came to mind when I saw the ad.  One, good on ATT for telling people to focus on driving and not texting.   Second, it reminded me of labels on cigarette cartons saying “Smoking can kill you” — we want to tell you it will harm you, but we still want you to buy it.

I sold the “wow” factor of the latest device, I showed how much better people would feel using it, and made sure they came back every two years to get the next fix.  In sales- ‘sell the sizzle’, showcase benefits and value, show the customer the need.   Or rather, create the need. I was told multiple times over the years in sales training (by multiple companies)- Customers do not know that they need what you sell- you have to create the need and show how it will improve their lives.

Or in the case of wireless- how important it is to always be connected, never miss a message, a text, an email, or now- Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook notification.  You will be safer if you are more connected. You will be more productive if you don’t miss those emails from your management.   Everyone wins- the customer is connected, the company makes money, and I collect a substantial paycheck to sell it.

I see kids with their noses stuck in a phone during family events.  I sold their parents on how much safer their child would be if they could be in contact.   I see Moms (myself included) scrolling Facebook watching other peoples’ lives while their own kids do amazing things that the Mom will miss.   I sold those Moms the best camera smartphones on the market.  I told those Moms their children needed a phone at 9- how else could they possibly keep track of them without our gps location app?  Like feeding a kid fast food as a toddler, how do you break the habit of smartphone surfing years later?  My son is 5- I need to pry his hands from my IPhone on a regular basis.

Guilty conscious? Perhaps.  On one hand I really enjoyed my career- and the technology I sold.  I was around long enough to watch the industry go from black and white flip phones to IPhone 7.  I remember selling text packages in bulk; and asking customers if they needed 450 minutes or 700 a month.   I was compensated  well for the job, and met wonderful customers and co workers over the years.  Sales can be an extremely satisfying career.  I don’t know why I can’t shake the feeling that part of my job was to ‘hook’ the customer

I also felt a little weird when a parents sighs and says they can’t get their kid off the phone.  Or how their phone bills for the family cost as much as the car payment.  Or worse, when I see a news article about a person hurt or killed while checking their phone while driving.   I didn’t tell those people to drive and text– I just sold them the phone that lets them do it.




A cruel teacher

In my corporate days, I managed teams of sales reps. One of my biggest pet peeves was working on a schedule for the team for hours, only to have them ask for changes- “My kid has soccer practice” “My dog needs to be walked” “My kid has a fever, I need to go home early”.  “My daycare charges by the minute if I am late, I have to leave now”.

Karma is a cruel teacher.  I’d grumble under my breath about my reps and their kids, the germs they’d spread in the store from whatever preschool or daycare they had the toddler in.  I was 25 years old and in the midst of climbing whatever corporate ladder I could- no kids, or significant other- would stand in my way.

I put in the hours, days, months, years, to get where I was.  I missed weddings.  I missed family funerals.  I missed birthdays, anniversaries, social events, I missed everything that connects a human to fellow humans.  I was good at my job; I received bonuses (which I would splurge on myself and family to assuage some of the guilt from missing events); I got the promotions I wanted.  I switched companies at the proper time to maximize my potential for pay and ‘career growth’.

At 29 I settled down and got married, and three years later I had Vincent.   My corporate plan was to take the 6-8 week maternity time off, and then jump back feet first into my job- maybe I’d even go for a new position higher up in the company.

Vince was overdue by a week. An ultrasound discovered an enlarged kidney and bladder- and in those five minutes between when the ultrasound tech left the room to get a doctor, and the diagnosis that was to come- my big dreams of corporate life went out the window.  I was out of control.  This little human came to me with big health issues, and from then on, work was 2nd in my life.

Anyone who works in corporate jobs knows the politics of it.  It is fine to get married, as long as the spouse doesn’t stand in the way of your advancement.  It’s fine to have children- as long as their role in your life is a 5×7 portrait on your desk you can smile at and tell visitors to your office, ‘oh, yes, they are wonderful, just growing up too quickly”.  Outside of that, family is a distraction to the task at hand- selling whatever service or product your company produces- and focusing on profits.

I lump companies in a large pile-  I have heard stories of ‘family friendly’ jobs; flex schedules; long paid maternity leaves.  I never worked for one, and I admit, I never made it easy for my employees to have those luxuries.   Again, we pay for our sins.

Vince had 3 years of non stop doctor appointments, ultrasounds, fevers, infections, surgeries, sleepless nights, dehydration.  I plugged away at work as much as I could, trying not to feel guilty when my Mother/babysitter scolded me for not being home for my son earlier in the day; or when I was, being on the phone and computer all the time.

It took one night of fighting off my drunk ex husband to get a PFA, then a separation, then the divorce- to finally clear my vision of what was to be important in my life.  Being laid off from work during a merger was the single best thing to happen to me; the divorce was the second.

The layoff was the start of Minimalism in my life- although I didn’t know it at the time.  I cut cable, cut off phones,  downsized cars, sold off my electronics, shopped at discount ‘crash and dent’ stores that sold expired food,  bought 2 DVD cartoons to entertain Vince, used WIC to supplement his food supply (blessed enough not to have to get food stamps)- all this on a $10 an hour job I was able to secure.  I kept the car, I kept my mortgage and my home, and found the essentials to my happiness– the bliss of time with my son.

I did end up at another larger, better paying job for a year or so not long after- and nearly lost all the wisdom I learned in the down times.  But nagging in the back of my mind was the notion that I was happiest, Vincent was happiest- when I was home and not making tons and tons of money.

A Year Later

My musing on Minimalism, and corporate America (or rather somehow walking away from it) has landed me where I am now- Formally separated from my career in wireless; remarried; stay at home Mom; stay at home Housewife. No ladder to climb; no sales to make. Childlike almost, dependent 100% on my husband and his work.

I am mostly in shock, and a bit depressed, at the number of people who ask me “What’s next?” “When will you go back to work?” “What do you want to do?”

I am blessed that all I need at the moment for my son and me is provided- home, food, clothing, safety. I do not desire a plaque on the wall telling me I was number one sales in the Northeast Market anymore. Who remembers anyway? The moment the award is presented, another month slips by and the sales and achievements I accomplished are eclipsed and forgotten. Along with it, the satisfaction of what I had done- selling a ton of wireless phones for a company to make a ridiculous amount of money off of.

I could go in a few directions at this point in the story- I can continue on my bitterness of the expectations of the world that I should be “doing” something. I can also continue on how the wireless industry is not all evil; it’s a business and it supports thousands of people and their lives with the service it provides.

In a way they are the same point– What am I doing? I can tell you what I am- I am a mother of one, and another on the way- so my focus revolves around encouraging my son to learn to read and a be a good little human; and also focused on eating as healthy as I can to grow another little human along the way. I am learning (slowly) how to be a wife again- this time around so insanely different from the last.

What are you “Doing”? What are you Accomplishing? What can you brag about? What trophies can you put on your wall to show the world that you ‘are’ something? Society is obsessed with growth, unfortunately to me, I feel the growth is for superficial measures that don’t last. At least, my accomplishments, I have found, disappeared like the morning dew. I acknowledge, I am in a position at this moment in life that I can question all this without the pressing worry of supporting myself and son on my own- so forgive me if I have come across as condescending. Even before meeting my husband, the gears were in motion to move on from my career and find something that required less time at work and more time with my child.

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:20 NIV