“How’s Work Going?”

Kim made chocolate chip banana bread this evening, and I decided to share a loaf with my neighbor who has spent countless hours helping to keep my bike in working order. He’s in his mid 60’s, retired and lives alone. He’s opinionated and direct in everything he does. In fact, he intimidates me a bit, but he’s become a good friend, and I sense he enjoys sharing his knowledge of cycling with me.

I stood on his porch with a warm loaf of bread in my hand waiting for him to answer the door. Eventually, he came to the door and stepped outside on the porch. I handed him the bread, expressed my thanks, and was about to leave when he said, “You’re doing it the right way, you know that?”

He could tell I was confused.

He began to tell me about his job as an engineer which often kept him away from his family. It was a struggle to stay involved with his children. He realized early in his career that sacrificing time with his children to further his career would result in empty rewards. Today his greatest joy is the time he spends with his son and grandchildren.

“I noticed you taking your kids for a bike ride today. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s the right way, and it will pay dividends down the road.”

I told him I appreciated the kind words and began walking back home, where I ran into another neighbor who was just getting home as the sun was going down.

“How’s work going?” I asked.

“Not bad if I overlook the four hour commute each day.”

He works for Boeing, and was recently transferred to a plant about 50 mile north of where he’s worked the past few years. I’m not sure he realized I was no longer working in Redmond, and I felt bad admitting my commute is done on my bike and takes about 20-25 minutes each way.

I miss my corporate job twice a month on payday. Otherwise I am happy to leave the politics, endless meetings,  and 2 to 3 hour a day commute behind. I possess my father’s DNA, but I’m not wired the same way he is where my identity is tied to my job title. His father was the same way. I suspect it’s generational.

I can’t relate to people who say they would continue to show up to work if they won the lottery. I’m blessed to have a job I enjoy and a company I’m proud to represent. I don’t play the lottery, but if were in the position where I didn’t have to work, no way in hell would I continue punching the clock.

With my three oldest kids in tow, we rode our bikes to the 7-11 where they picked out a small Slurpee. They like to mix the flavors so we end up with a banana, Pina Colada , Coke concoction that looks as terrible as it must taste. As I waited for them to finish, I asked each of them what they enjoyed most about our summer.

Anna said she loved visiting her grandparent’s cabin. Luca liked going to Wild Waves and to many of her friend’s birthday parties.

Lincoln wasn’t paying attention so I asked him again. He thought for a minute, and then said, “Going on bike rides with you, especially that long one at night”.

That’s the one where we were gone so long that mom got in the van and came looking for us.

Next payday, I’ll remind myself of Lincoln’s answer.

5 thoughts on ““How’s Work Going?”

  1. Brett, we probably wouldn’t agree on many topics but on this one you are so right. If you can keep doing what you are doing you will blessed in the long run with your children. The thing you can never get back is time with your kids at a time so important in their lives. I was lucky like you in that I had time until the corporate downsizing changed my job completely and had me travel too much. I hope my kids would say bike rides!


  2. We took some great vacations with Aaron to more places than any of his friends ever went. When I visited him a few months ago I asked what he remembered about those trips. He said not much. What he remembered was every Wednesday for several years I left work early to drive him to Greensboro for music lessons. We did not have a local teacher who could match his skill level on the clarinet. We’d stop and grab a bite to eat on the way home. He knew he’d been to lots of nice places on vacation, but the weekly music lesson rides were what he remembered.


    1. Dean, it’s it funny how that works? My kids favorite times are when they get to see their Grandparents which isn’t very often. They loved going to Disney, but honestly, they would have loved going anywhere where they could have spent time with my parents.


  3. My oldest daughter told me one time that her favorite memory was one night when she was about 12 years old. I was listening to some old records (yes, I’m old), and the song “Close to You” by the Carpenters came on. I sang it to her. I couldn’t believe she remembered that! You never know what moment in time will be caught in the memories of children.


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