The Road Less Travelled

One of the biggest decisions I ever made happened in the 1990’s when I was in my early 20’s. I had a really great job at an up and coming large tech start-up in Toronto that had already made its young entrepreneur owners into millionaires but would net at least some of them even more millions before being bought by the big boys.

I was an Administrative Team Associate, which was a fancy term for receptionist/ secretary back in the day. In reality though I was much more like Donna from the television show Suits. If you needed to know where someone was, if you needed a newsletter made, a nagging husband given the brush off, a discreet cab ride for an unwanted morning after the night before house guest, computers shipped anywhere in the world, documents faxed, presentations copied and assembled, a gift for your child’s birthday … if you needed anything, I was your girl! I had my finger on the pulse of that company’s head office in Toronto and satellite offices in cities across North America and toward the end even overseas. I loved that job and I really enjoyed the people I worked with. I was really good at what I did and I made decent money too.

But after about a year of working 100 hour weeks and completely losing any hope of rekindling my all but dead relationship with my boyfriend, I knew I had to make a change. I decided to move home to New Brunswick. My sisters were both living in Moncton and I decided I could just as easily get a job there and begin making a life here. What was the fun of having all that money and success if every vacation I would ever take would be to New Brunswick? If I lived here I would be free to travel the world on my vacations, free to even visit Toronto every once in awhile. It felt like the right decision for me at the time.

I gave my notice at work right around the same time as my Team Leader got fired for … pillow talk I think … sleeping with a new executive and telling him some confidential information that he should not have known. It was a very dramatic event, me having to lock her out of her office until security escorted her off the property. She was bitter. Spiteful. And would later reach out to me to try and convince me to smuggle some things out to her. I wanted nothing to do with that, or her for that matter. I ignored her calls, thanked God for caller ID, and counted my blessings that she never took enough interest to learn where I lived.

But I gave my notice right around then too, though not on purpose and a bit guiltily as I knew I would be leaving the other team associate and my best buddy short staffed and stressed. It turned out when we finally went through my team leader’s office that other than ordering office supplies she hadn’t been doing any of the work, we were doing everything already. Imagine that!

Anyway, I gave my notice and the Directors/ Owners freaked out a little. My supervising director met with me to see if there was any way we could resolve this issue and I could stay. He offered me the Team Leader position. Without question, they wanted me to assume that role, there was nobody else that could just step in and take charge. I thanked him for the opportunity and insisted that my associate was more than qualified and ready to assume the position.

If I was having trouble at home with my relationship he would get me a company condo in North York, a car and driver, a hefty raise, bigger bonuses, shares in the company … I didn’t even have to go home and explain to my boyfriend. He would send some guys to get my stuff and I could just disappear from my boyfriend’s life if I didn’t want to deal with the drama.

If I was feeling homesick I could visit home on paid hiatus for three months or six months and get rested up before moving into my condo. He’d give me season tickets to the leafs. A box! I kept saying no and he just kept offering things up, looking for my currency. It was one of the most insane meetings I have ever actually been in right up until this day.

But I declined. I quit and moved and really never had that kind of lavish wealth and extravagance within my reach again. Sometimes I wonder what my life would have looked like if I had accepted his offer …

I would have taken the paid hiatus for sure and come home to New Brunswick but I probably would have spent more time at my parents than Moncton with my sisters because I wouldn’t have needed to work, I would have had money. I would have just bummed around for months drinking beer, reading, watching television, partying with whoever was around. I would have slept in every day and stayed up late every night and wished my BFF was here to do it with me. I would have likely been bored in six weeks and chomping at the bit to get back to the city and my new life, so I would have gone back, refreshed and energetic.

My condo would be high in the sky, furnished and decorated in a sleek modern style by some professional person. There would be a door person in the lobby and I would feel safe because nobody could just walk in off the street without a security or visitors pass. Plus, it would be a great neighbourhood, full of young urban professionals like myself. Nothing scary or threatening. I would have a view of the city lights, an open concept living/ dining/ kitchen and a soaking bath. I could light candles and put on music and relax in a bubble bath whenever I wanted. I would still work a lot but I’d start taking some weekends off and I’d go to the coffee shop on my block and find a nice market within walking distance. I’d invite friends over for cocktails and nibbles before we hit a nice restaurant for a long late dinner and then a pub for drinks.

I would give the guy in finance a real chance with me and date like normal people. It wouldn’t work out but I would try for six months until we both lost interest. By this time I would be travelling for work, making regular trips to satellite offices in Montreal, Vancouver, San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta, New York City and more. I would get used to room service in top notch hotels. I might even meet someone and fall in love. Or I might have a torrid affair with one of the directors. The company would evolve and I would evolve with it, spending every vacation at home in New Brunswick with my family. Part of me would long for a slower simpler life. And on September 11, 2001 I would completely lose my mind when the towers fell because I would have been there many times visiting our offices, I would know people personally, I would know their families … I might even be there myself when it happened.

And that’s when things would come to a full stop for me. I would need more than a three or six month paid hiatus. I would need a complete break, a return to slow and simple, a return to roots, a return to my family.

This time when I put my notice in, nobody would fight for me to stay because it would be mostly a new crew, the directors would have taken the money and run already. There would be a severance maybe, and I would have savings, plus I’d have some shares in the company, certainly enough to move home and set myself up in a little place. Enough to live for a little while until I could find a job …

All roads lead to where I am right now. I really believe that. I could have taken a different route, a harder one, an easier one, but I would somehow still get here. Because I think I am meant to be here. This is where I am supported and loved. This is where I thrive. And as much as it might have been nice to have experienced some of those things, to have been able to return financially stable and able to set myself up, I honestly wouldn’t trade the way I went about it for any of that at all. I learned and grew so much. I appreciate everything I have and everyone in my life now and throughout the years.

Life is good. The journey to this life has been interesting and full. Taking the road less travelled was my best decision.

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