Earlier today I had a phone conversation with my Dad. You might recall that he's undergoing another round of chemo for a recurrence of colon cancer. It's been well over five years since his original diagnosis and treatment, but in the interim he had a bout of prostate cancer which was treated with radiation therapy. Did I mention that he also has Parkinson's disease?
And that he's 85 years old?
As you might imagine, he's rather frail. We're planning a trip to Florida later this week to see him, so I inquired about his schedule in the upcoming days.
"Well, Tuesday's and Thursdays are therapy days," he said, rattling it off verbatim. "I get this pump thing filled up on Tuesdays, and wear it all day Wednesday, and then go back in on Thursday for some other treatment. I'm working on Friday and Sunday this week, but on Saturday I'm free all day."
"Are you still working??" I asked, somewhat incredulously. My Dad has worked at the local Walmart for the past several years, even working full time for a while.
"Just two days a week now," he said, "and only four hours at a time."
"Do you really think you should do that?" I wondered, not for the first time.
"Yeah, I need to," he said. "It keeps my mind off all this other awful stuff. Besides, I like all the people I work with, and I have my regular customers that come in and get upset if I'm not there. That's the best part of work, the people."
Of course he's right. Especially for a man like my Dad, who enjoys talking to people, who ran a successful small business for 40 years, who likes to be out and about in the world.
"How about you?" he asked. "Do you miss your job?"
I thought for a minute before I answered. Fact is, I don't miss the work itself, but I do miss the people I worked with. I enjoyed the interaction with my co-workers and my boss, enjoyed the camaraderie, the sense of shared purpose - all the things I'm enjoying so much in my Classical Bells rehearsals.
When I told him as much, he understood immediately. "It's all about the relationships," he said.
I can believe that. There is much satisfaction to be had in the workplace, and not all of it has to do with a job well done.
How about you. Do your working relationships help make a dull job better?