Back To Work!

When I bid adieu to my government-work career 13 years ago, opting to cash in on retirement pensions, I knew that the regimented style of life I’d engaged in for decades was one I’d be remiss to discard entirely. I mean, I liked the job and didn’t mind the commutes. And, of course, I was very used to the overall arrangement. Thus, there was no doubt in my mind that I’d be lost at sea if I didn’t replace it, to a decent extent, with a similar routine.

That’s why, three days after hanging up my paid-employment spikes, I began trying out part-time volunteer jobs at various institutions, six or so months later settling down for the long haul with assignments at a health system (a hospital and its related facilities) near my home in the Philadelphia suburbs. I enjoyed the medical-related gigs quite a lot. But when the devilish coronavirus conquered Planet Earth in early 2020, the health system lost zero time in placing its volunteer staff on hiatus. The risks of us contracting the virus, or of infecting people with it, were just too high for the organization to keep us on board. And the same thing happened with a local food pantry where I helped out a little each week.

Wham! All of a sudden I had a bunch of extra hours on my hands, as if I didn’t have more than enough of them already. I took the easy way out, spending more time than ever on my living room sofa, one of my closest friends. I’m not proud to admit that last year, upon said sofa, I eclipsed the previous Guinness World Records top mark in the “Most Time Devoted To Scratching One’s Balls” category. Hey, what can I say? I ain’t all that genteel!

I’m glad to report that now I’m less of a slacker and balls-scratcher than I was, because in July I returned to one of the jobs that I had held with the health system, which has opened its arms to volunteers once again. Though I’m on site only four hours each week, I feel pretty damn good to have some amount of scheduled work in my life, and to be of service. More likely than not I’ll soon try to expand my hours by getting an additional assignment within the organization.

My official job title is Greeter. And greet people I do, via a “how’s it going?” or a nod when they arrive at the three-story medical office building whose ground-floor information desk I man on Thursday afternoons (the medical office building is across the street from the hospital). And I say “see ya” often too, as visitors, having completed their doctor appointments, head to one of the building’s several exits.

The main point of my being there, though, is to help people. A lot of them, for example, aren’t sure which office their doctor is in (a staff directory, mounted on a wall of the sprawling ground floor, is easy to miss), or can’t find the public restrooms or the alcove where vending machines are located, or aren’t even sure if they are in the correct building (more often than you’d expect, they’re not).

That’s where I come in, verbally or physically directing the lost souls to their proper destinations, answering a substantial variety of questions, and sometimes becoming involved in fairly complicated matters. Such as when I go to the multi-level parking garage behind the building with those who, their appointments over, can’t remember where they parked their cars. I have an excellent track record in locating the misplaced vehicles.

The job may not be top of the ladder on the excitement scale, but its pace and quality fit me comfortably most of the time. On average I respond to questions and unravel situations around ten times per hour, which is enough to keep me interested. And I like the fact that I never know what question or dilemma will be presented to me next.

I’ve been involved with people-oriented volunteer work for much of my adult life. As clichéd as it sounds, I believe in giving folks a helping hand, in paying back and paying forward. And I get a nice amount of satisfaction from my modest deeds. Thankfully, most people are on the same wavelength about all of this as me. If that wasn’t the case, the world would be an even more unsettling place than it is, right? Right.

145 thoughts on “Back To Work!

  1. roughwighting October 28, 2022 / 7:27 am

    RIGHT! And I must add that what you do makes a HUGE difference. “Greeting” is giving kindness and love in a smile, with directions and assurances that all will be well, all will be well. The past six months my guy has had some medical issues that are scary, so we’ve been to the medical center(s) often. And I’ll tell you, those that have a greeter, a greeter who smiles at us, asks how he can help, shows us the way AND gives an encouraging nod – makes a positive difference in our experience. So, thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Steve Higgins October 29, 2022 / 7:06 am

    Sounds like a nice little gig. I retired earlier this year. Liz was poorly after a hip operation and I used up all the leave owing me to look after her and just never went back to work. I used to love my job but in my last years I moved to a different team and mostly didn’t get on with them, especially my new boss so I was glad to get out of there. The flip side is that I’ve felt a little bored ever since. Maybe I should get my lazy behind down to hospital and start volunteering!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 29, 2022 / 10:53 am

      Hey there, Steve. The hospital near you might have a variety of volunteer jobs available. Might be worth looking into. Take care. Have a good weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa at Micro of the Macro October 29, 2022 / 3:22 pm

    You’re a riot, Neil! Good on you for participating in the gift economy! This is a wonderful service that is highly valued by those of us unfamiliar with medical buildings. I’m so grateful things are returning to normal after covid! Sorry, I’m not sure why this comment first appeared as a reply to your note to Steve Higgins!??! 🌞

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 29, 2022 / 10:51 pm

      Hi. I guess that Covid never will go away. Vaccines, though, have made things way, way better. I was teary-eyed from joy when I got my first dose of Moderna in spring 2021.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. rkrontheroad October 30, 2022 / 12:40 pm

    Good for you for returning to the volunteer world. It’s been important to me and helps give some structure and purpose to my not-really-having-to-work time of life. I’m sure you are a welcome help and friendly face for those who come in often stressed or not well.

    Liked by 2 people

      • rkrontheroad October 31, 2022 / 11:54 am

        At every time of life, we have to seek something that makes us feel meaningful and gives us joy, no?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. ellie894 November 1, 2022 / 2:02 am

    Hi Neil. It’s great to hear you’ve been able to get back to helping people again. When you’re lost there’s nothing like a friendly face being there to help you find your way.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. alhenry November 1, 2022 / 10:26 pm

    “All of a sudden I had a bunch of extra hours on my hands, as if I didn’t have more than enough of them already. ”

    Wow. I mean WOW! I wish I could find some extra hours. Neil, please, tell me your secret. I work at home, on my own schedule, but more often than not, I arrive at midnight with only a scant hour or so of the day available for writing. Getting the trash/recycle out on Tuesdays, laundry, cooking (Ed and I share), keeping the garden going, raking leaves, grocery shopping, –well, I won’t bore you with any more. I would so love to have a bunch of extra hours to read, write, and maybe just relax. Well, I enjoyed reading about your volunteer work–important–and applaud you for it. Carry on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger November 1, 2022 / 11:57 pm

      Amy, you’re definitely busier than me. I do plenty of chores, yard work, etc. But they take up only so many hours. The volunteer job helps to reduce the time I spend on the couch, which I’m glad about. And it gets me out in the “real world”. Have a good rest of the week. See ya.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. kegarland November 10, 2022 / 1:07 pm

    I was wondering when you were going to be able to return to volunteering. Glad to hear this!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. chattykerry November 10, 2022 / 5:16 pm

    My contract work has dried up, for the most part, so I think I need to get back to volunteering for my sanity. You have given me some ideas.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Cherryl November 26, 2022 / 8:19 am

    I couldn’t agree more. Paying back and paying forward really do bring a lot of satisfaction. Small gestures can make a huge difference in someone’s life ✨💫
    I remember a film called ‘Pay it Forward’ on this very theme – s friend recommended it to me years ago – very inspirational.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Americaoncoffee December 8, 2022 / 11:38 pm

    Hi Neil, being back to work is a good thing. I had forgotten about your previous shares of working at the hospital. Taking precautionary measures during Covid was a wise move. A healthy job is giving of your healthy attitude and hiving if your healthy self. Wishing your many rewarding presents for the season.🔔❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  11. alisendopf December 26, 2022 / 12:33 pm

    While I am still (under)employed, I do love volunteering. I’ve done a LOT of it over the years and have finally figured out a way to do it successfully. By successfully, I mean not getting embroiled in leadership or executive positions! I have found that many volunteer organizations have just as much office politics as any cut-throat Wall Street firm – perhaps even more so 🙂 Now I look for opportunities to serve where I can be like you – with the public, or those I serve. And then I simply go home. No Team Meetings. No Planning Sessions. NO nothing. I’m glad you’re back on the front lines, and I know the people you are helping truly appreciate you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 26, 2022 / 4:04 pm

      Hi. I know what you mean. At this point in my life I wouldn’t want a volunteer job that involves managing or administering. Too much aggravation!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. joylennick January 30, 2023 / 4:48 pm

    We’re on the same page, Neil. Good for you. When our lads ‘grew up’ (although still living at home!) I did less ‘outside’ work but also like helping, so volunteered at an
    OAP home nearby a few times a week. I cried the first week, seeing so many confused, aged souls, but gradually got used to it. There were so many ‘characters’ I became fond of and it was a worth-while experience. I also helped part-time at the nearby school with backward readers and took a poetry class, which some of the more distruptive boys attended?! I like being with people. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

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