It is hard to explain, but the summer of 2021 was a good summer for my husband. In March of 2021, my husband lost his job due to COVID-19 restructuring. His job was our only source of income. After having 63 job applications rejected, good would not be the first word that comes to my mind. Oddly, happy is the first word that comes to my mind when I think of his summer.
After five months of “pounding the pavement “ and working with two employment coaches, finding a job seemed far away. In addition, the COVID-19 relief options he hoped would help protect our house from potential foreclosure, were no longer being offered. I saw firsthand how each rejection added to the weight he seemed to have on his shoulders.
He talked about how nervous, defeated, and hopeless he was feeling. But what he talked about the most, was how happy he was becoming. I knew he wasn’t just putting on a front for me. He walked past his favorite Ben and Jerry’s without a second glance.
This happiness happened because of a decision that seemed terrible at the time.
It was around rejection letter 18 that we decided he just needed to find a job. Any job. Since there was no sign of an unemployment check and our savings were focused on the mortgage, he decided he would take the first job he could get. No matter what it was.
After that very hard conversation, he took some time to putter on his sailboat. By chance, he got to talking to the dockmaster. There was a seasonal opening for a dockhand. It was his if he wanted the job. He said yes! That afternoon he came home with a new spirit and a red shirt.
After 30 years of being immersed in the corporate IT world, this was the perfect reset. He was thrilled to put his love of sailing to use. Better yet, the dockhand job would be flexible enough for him to keep applying for jobs, and to take interviews that came up.
At first, he was a little bit self-conscious to have accepted such underemployment. He went from VP in the corporate IT world to a seasonal dockhand. A dirty, sweaty job. A job that required him to drive the poop boat, haul trash, and work in the blazing heat. What I noticed was he was becoming more relaxed. What he noticed is that he went from burnout to happiness.
From IT to deckhand to happy husband.
My husband spent the summer working a job that put his customer service skills to use. It earned him cash tips that allowed us some simple pleasures. A coffee out while bird watching. Cheap pizza when there was no desire to cook dinner. His computer skills were gawked at, amazing his co-workers.
Each day he came home pleased with how the day went; showing his teammates how to use the computer programs more efficiently. There were funny stories of the folks he talked to and how he helped make boating situations safer. He came home smelling, exhausted, and happy.
Sitting here writing about it now, I find it very funny that it was the kind of job my husband always wanted: ending each workday physically exhausted knowing that his labor made a difference in people’s lives. Being a dockhand was the perfect job for my husband. Sure, he was underemployed but it gave him a chance to decompress from the corporate IT world. He was able to understand how his skills are transferable. It also gave him a great tan and some nice forearms.