All Aboard

By Monica A. Andermann

All Aboard

There I stood in the parking lot, cradling a cardboard box filled with my personal items. I glanced over my shoulder at the tall office building before shoving the container into the back seat of my car. So this is what twenty-two years of dedicated service amounts to, I thought.

Only minutes earlier, I’d been called into a meeting with my supervisor, department head and our company’s human resources director. They were making a lot of changes in the organization, they told me. No surprise there; I’d already heard the rumblings around the office. Profits were down and expenses were up. As someone who had reached the glass ceiling, I would have been a fool not to know what was coming next – your services are no longer needed; pack your things and go.

I drove away, the frame of the brick building growing smaller in my rearview mirror. A lot had changed in the past twenty-two years, I thought. Then, it had taken only one woman to hire me. Now it had taken three men to let me go.

Yet as I sat at home the next morning perusing the classifieds, that matter seemed insignificant. I was out of a job, and I needed a new one. Well, I knew I was qualified. Professionally speaking, I had gone through a series of promotions taking me from a barely experienced accounts payable clerk to a position of much responsibility handling financial matters for a 150 bed nursing home.

On the personal front, even more had occurred in the passing years. I had married, purchased a home, travelled across three continents, and cared for and lost my mother. I’d learned how to paint and participated in several art shows. In between, I’d begun practicing yoga and Tai Chi. Currently I was taking a series of writing workshops, pursuing my latest interest.

Half-heartedly I circled an ad, admitting to myself that the enjoyment of my newest interest had taken me quite by surprise. Creative by nature, writing afforded me an outlet both expressive and cathartic. This activity had become more than just some random hobby. The need to write had become part of me. In fact, I mentioned to a co-worker only days before, given the opportunity, I would drop the business world in a hot minute to write full-time. I glanced out the window and somewhere in the distance I heard the low whistle of the train of possibilities. My opportunity had arrived; it was high time to hop aboard and head to a new station.

But then the practical part of my brain engaged. How could I possibly write professionally when I’d produced nothing more than a handful of pieces, amateur at best? I didn’t even know how to format a manuscript. I needed more education. That would cost money and take time. At my age?

It was settled. I would stick to what I knew. I could no more write for a living than I could paint or practice Tai Chi poses to pay the bills. I abandoned the thought and prepared myself for an early bedtime. Clearly, I was suffering from the shock of the day’s events.

The next morning, though, as I sat reviewing my noted want-ads, I heard the low whistle of that train getting louder and louder. I started to rationalize. Did I really want to stay in a business I didn’t enjoy when I had found something so much more fulfilling? Sure I needed additional know-how, but how hard could that be to attain? Then the practical me stepped in again. Just forget it.

Back to the classifieds. The offerings looked even paltrier the second time around. I flipped through the pages in search of the crossword puzzle, but instead my eyes settled on a full-color ad for an open house at a local college specializing in programs for returning adult students. Oh, this had to be a sign, I thought. The timing was just too perfect. I had to give this thing a shot.

Days later, I attended the open house, and when I discovered that my previous two year’s worth of accounting credits could be transferred toward a new degree in creative writing, I registered for classes. I ordered textbooks. I bought pens and paper. There was no turning back. I had boarded the train, and it had departed the station. I hung on for the ride and braced myself for the bumps.

And the bumps came. When money got tight, I sold some jewelry to help meet tuition payments. I read and wrote and studied late into the night, forgoing most social invitations. Meals were eaten on the run, and I have no recollection of one summer altogether.

But it was worth it. Determined, I chugged along and in my second semester I published my first piece. By the end of my third semester, I’d been published several more times. And after two years, I walked across the stage of Empire State College and accepted my diploma along with the other men and women in my graduating class who heeded their own whistle-call and boarded the train of possibility along with me.

Now I’m a full-blown writer. On rainy days, I pad up the stairs to my home office and do what I love – write. On sunny days, I take my lap top out to my backyard deck and work. I get published, I get checks, and, sometimes, I get a complimentary email from a gracious reader. Life is good.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the train of unlimited possibilities. Feel free to jump on at any time. It’s sure to be a great ride.

About this writer

  • Monica A. Andermann Monica A. Andermann his both an avid gardener and a writer. More of her personal essays can be found in several Chicken Soup for the Soul and A Cup of Comfort collections with additional credits widely published both online and in a variety of print media.

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2 Responses to “All Aboard”

  1. “One woman to hire me and three to let me go.” This sentence is priceless. Kudos to you for following your dream. Wishing you even more success in the new year.

  2. Rose Ann says:

    Yes, it was worth it–it’s all in your writing. Great essay!

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