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.

137 thoughts on “Back To Work!

  1. Audrey Driscoll October 18, 2022 / 12:49 am

    That’s great, Neil! I’m glad you’ve been able to get back to such a rewarding volunteer job.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. gabychops October 18, 2022 / 1:52 am

    I am surprised by how interesting your life has been, Neil! And doing volunteer work brings satisfaction. Good to know more about you, and the post is interesting, thank you.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 18, 2022 / 8:56 am

      Hi. Thanks for the comments. Another thing that I like about this volunteer job is that it’s only two miles from my house. I don’t have to battle tons of auto traffic to get to the job, or to go back home.


  3. Paddy Tobin October 18, 2022 / 2:10 am

    I’m glad to hear you are back in action again. You always reported enjoying your position at the hospital and it’s good that you are back there again. Spares the balls too!

    Liked by 2 people

      • Paddy Tobin October 18, 2022 / 11:47 am

        I might add that I had an appointment at a local hospital yesterday but there was no meet-and-greet at the entrance though there was a Reception Desk.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Lynette d'Arty-Cross October 18, 2022 / 2:19 am

    A very interesting post, Neil. I will be retiring in 8 months from a very demanding job as a CEO. I’ve been concerned about the abrupt stop and am considering volunteer work, too, not only to help with the adjustment to retirement but also because giving back is so important. Cheers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 18, 2022 / 9:01 am

      Hi. I’m sure you’ll make the transition to “retirement” very well. If you do volunteer work, you’ll be excellent at it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jane Sturgeon October 18, 2022 / 2:51 am

    Neil, you are loving grace in action and it’s a welcome respite for your balls, no doubt. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  6. joylennick October 18, 2022 / 3:32 am

    Oh Neil, I’m so glad I’m of an age which enables me to say, with a broad smile, I’d love to cuddle you (Teddy bear style!) as you’re such a character, and just, well lovable, despite ‘scratching your balls!’ More people around like you, please…Cheers. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 18, 2022 / 9:06 am

      Right. And this job also has shown me, as if I needed reminding, that I don’t have as much stamina as I used to. That is, the four hours I spend at the job tire me out pretty good.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. fauquetmichel October 18, 2022 / 4:10 am

    I am retired for long and I managed to have regular activities but very different than in my carrieer !We have to keep acivities to keep high spirit.
    In friendship

    Liked by 2 people

  8. swabby429 October 18, 2022 / 6:36 am

    The helpful gestures from others are oftentimes the ones we remember most.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Robert Parker October 18, 2022 / 6:52 am

    Glad you’re back to help, a trip to the hospital is usually a dose of anxiety, tension, etc. and sometimes a lot of upset, so having a friendly civilian to give directions or just say hi is a big help. Sometimes staff just say stuff like “oh that’s red corridor over by CCU in the outpatient wing” and I still have no idea where the heck it is. Good volunteer idea

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 18, 2022 / 9:15 am

      Hey, Robert. Even though the things I do at this job are small usually, most people really seem to appreciate it. So, the job is satisfying to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Anonymous October 18, 2022 / 7:52 am

    Glad you are back to hospital job. Also like your photography on your long walks all around.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Laurie Graves October 18, 2022 / 7:53 am

    Glad you are able to return to one of your volunteer jobs. I think most of us need to feel as though we are doing something meaningful with our lives, and retirement is often can be a challenge, no matter how anticipated. Volunteering is an excellent way to provide structure and purpose. And let’s face it—so many organizations need help. There’s no shortage of ways to get involved.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. rivertoprambles October 18, 2022 / 8:25 am

    I agree, there’s no shortage of ways to get involved, and you’ve certainly found a good one.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Helen Devries October 18, 2022 / 9:02 am

    So glad that you have been able to return to volunteering… certainly helps to find a friendly face and a helpful attitude when you arrive at a strange building – especially a hospital.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 18, 2022 / 10:24 am

      Hi. The building I work in is labyrinthine, so I understand why people can have trouble figuring out where offices, bathrooms, etc. are.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Deb October 18, 2022 / 9:28 am

    I’m ready to get out and do something with myself. Retiring at the height of Covid left me at basically zero on the volunteer opportunity list. Glad you could go back Neil. My search is on!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. eden baylee October 18, 2022 / 9:30 am

    Sounds like a wonderful gig, Neil. It’s good to be out there in the world, and you’re helping people which is its own reward.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. greenpete58 October 18, 2022 / 9:32 am

    Okay, I’ll play Devil’s Advocate again: can’t you still scratch your balls at that desk in the hallway? It reminds me of the desk of Spinal Tap documentarian Marty DiBergi, which sits in a curve in a hallway, next to the men’s room. What if you’re in a lousy mood that day? Do the family members of hospital patients understand when you drop F-bombs? Just wondering.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. mariezhuikov October 18, 2022 / 9:36 am

    Good for you to give back! My local retiree (husband) works at a food bank. They kept them on during the pandemic and now the demand is even higher than ever. I think he’d agree about the need to have some sort of structured time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 18, 2022 / 10:32 am

      He’s doing good work. And it’s great that he has been able to work there all along, even at the heights of the pandemic.


  18. D. Wallace Peach October 18, 2022 / 10:54 am

    I love volunteering, Neil. Just making one person’s day a little easier is a blessing. I also appreciate helpful greeters in medical buildings. It takes away some of the stress when I know right where to go and don’t need to wander around in the maze of corridors, looking for help. Enjoy the job and know that you’re making a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Paula B October 18, 2022 / 11:01 am

    It sounds like the absolutely PERFECT volunteer gig. I’ve been looking for something like this, in fact. In any case, thank you for doing good in your community.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Sam Gridley October 18, 2022 / 11:35 am

    Any kind of normalizing human contact in a medical facility is a plus! I’m sure your casual greeting means more than you can guess to the patients who arrive tense and worried. Besides, directing folks to the restroom is such a crucial public service that it deserves some kind of medal.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Jacqui Murray October 18, 2022 / 11:50 am

    The older I get, the more I wish there was a greeter who could answer questions. I bet that position is valued.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 18, 2022 / 3:41 pm

      Hi, Jacqui. The hospital system hasn’t been able yet to fill all the Greeter time slots during the week. Pre-pandemic, though, I think all the slots were filled.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. andrewcferguson October 18, 2022 / 12:24 pm

    You’re an inspiration, Neil. Ditto Alison, who also volunteers as a greeter at a couple of places. Once I dial back the paying employment, I’m going to follow both your leads. And as I seem to have picked up a number of hospital appointments myself recently, I’m sure I’ll appreciate someone like you and a friendly face!

    What is it, incidentally, with medical facilities and labyrinth comparisons? I’ve never once not needed a ball of wool to find my way back from my appointment with Dr Minotaur!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Rosaliene Bacchus October 18, 2022 / 1:09 pm

    Congrats on getting back some of your lost scheduled work! Interactions with others are so vital to our mental well-being.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. juliefj1 October 18, 2022 / 2:01 pm

    It’s great that you’re back and doing an important job. It is definitely nerve wracking trying to find your way around anything in the healthcare field and most people coming in are already stressed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 18, 2022 / 9:01 pm

      Right. There’s usually nothing fun about going to see doctors, or having tests done.


  25. Cristina Crawford October 18, 2022 / 3:35 pm

    Congrats to you being back in the saddle, as it were. Enjoy! My hubby will likely be hanging up his nerd suit next year so we’ll look to volunteer somewhere together.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. shoreacres October 18, 2022 / 6:32 pm

    Volunteering isn’t an option for me just now, since I’m one of those who’s working well past the standard retirement age, but I certainly can affirm the value of the work you’re doing. Even first-class medical facilities like the Texas Med Center, where I often took my mother, are confusing and too often intimidating. The volunteers there — smiling, receptive, filled with answers for even the most absurd questions — are a real blessing. I’m sure there are plenty of visitors to your site who feel the same about you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 18, 2022 / 9:11 pm

      Evening. Another thing that I like about the job is that quite a few visitors say hello and goodbye to me before I can do the same with them. They’re friendly!

      Liked by 1 person

      • shoreacres October 18, 2022 / 9:14 pm

        People like to make connections. A friend who works as a checker in a store here says that casual, friendly conversation has really picked up post-Covid. It’s as though people are remembering why such conversations are important for maintaining the social fabric.

        Liked by 1 person

  27. JT Twissel October 18, 2022 / 6:52 pm

    Good for you! I used to do a lot of volunteering – mostly with children’s organizations. I still haven’t gotten back into the swing of things. I wonder sometimes if I will be able to do it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 18, 2022 / 9:14 pm

      Hi. Give it a try. I’m sure you’d have no trouble easing into the flow of it again.


  28. Kim Smith October 18, 2022 / 6:52 pm

    That sounds like a wonderful volunteer position, Neil. I’ve spent several years volunteering on a couple of nonprofit boards, and all the meetings get exhausting. I might need to find something like you’ve got, where I can be of service without feeling so drained.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 18, 2022 / 9:18 pm

      Howdy, Kim. The type of work you do is very valuable. And I’m pretty sure it would exhaust me too. Thanks for adding your thoughts. Have a good rest of the week!

      Liked by 1 person

  29. tanjabrittonwriter October 18, 2022 / 11:06 pm

    I’m glad you were able to return to your volunteer work, Neil. Like you, I very much enjoy volunteering, in my case at our local history museum.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Anonymous October 19, 2022 / 8:22 am

    Hey there Neil, Whenever the subject of work enters the chat, I always talk about my volunteer work first. Keep up the good work. You’re the spark plug that makes the car run. Have a good day. Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Joe October 19, 2022 / 9:05 am

    I always appreciate seeing the greeters when I walk into a medical building, Neil. I must have a confused-looking face, because the smiling volunteers always ask if I need any help. I’m sure you know my type. I assume you can’t scratch your balls at work, so those four hours per week must be challenging. Good on you, mate, for helping out. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 2 people

  32. talebender October 19, 2022 / 11:57 am

    I’d have been late for many appointments, or missed them entirely, were it not for folks like you! So, if I ever need to see a specialist in Philly…..

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 19, 2022 / 8:14 pm

      If that comes to pass (and I hope it doesn’t), it will be my pleasure to direct you to the correct office!


    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 19, 2022 / 8:20 pm

      Hi. I was glad to get back to this job, after a two year hiatus caused by the pandemic. It gets me off the sofa!

      Liked by 1 person

  33. johnlmalone October 20, 2022 / 12:26 am

    I know how it feels, Neil; when I retired two decades ago I panicked with all the free time I would have but then I joined a Writers’ Group and volunteered for Meals on Wheels three times a week and I was a happy and busy little bee; you sound similarly happy and engaged 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 20, 2022 / 7:07 am

      Hey, John. Right, we need to keep well-occupied. Too much time on our hands is not good.


  34. Ally Bean October 20, 2022 / 8:51 am

    I have no doubt you make a great greeter and will enjoy doing so. Volunteer opportunities dried up during the pandemic but now… the world is our oyster, part-time, for no pay!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 20, 2022 / 11:27 am

      Hi. One thing about the volunteer job I have is that the health system gives me a $6 credit towards lunch in the hospital cafeteria, which is across the street from the building I work in.

      Liked by 1 person

  35. selizabryangmailcom October 20, 2022 / 3:08 pm

    Man, oh, man, could we have used you MANY times in the parking structure at Cedars Sinai, lol. That’s before we started using a small outdoor lot down the street where finding the car is no issue.

    Props and street cred for paying it forward!

    I’m sure you’re much nicer than the gentleman who was calling my name over the very unclear PA system (and also using my husband’s last name instead of mine). Eventually I went up to the desk to see what was going on and he was like, “YOU’RE Stacey? I’ve been calling you.” “You were?” He didn’t say hello, didn’t smile, just said, “You can go back now,” and led me wordlessly down a long hallway to where hubby was waiting to go into surgery.

    I’ll never forget him. He had a blank expression while also somehow exuding fury and left me off without smiling once or saying anything nice. I was in a complete fugue state of terror because this was when hubby was about to have a pituitary tumor removed from just below his brain. I think I will ALWAYS hold a grudge against that asshole. Excuse my French! He should NOT have been working there, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 20, 2022 / 11:12 pm

      Is your husband doing okay? That sort of surgery is scary. As for the guy you describe: He was a jerk. Or maybe he was just having a bad day. Whatever the case, there was no excuse for him not treating you right.


      • stacey October 21, 2022 / 6:00 pm

        Yeah, this was in 2017. I wrote a blog about it. I figured that guy might be having a crap day. I even tried chit-chatting to break the tension. No response. THEN I got angry after that, lol. It’s okay. It’ll make good fodder for some fiction I write in the future.

        Liked by 1 person

  36. Alyson October 20, 2022 / 5:44 pm

    Glad you’re back to your volunteering job – sounds as if you’ve missed it. A helpful chap like yourself is sometimes just what people need when navigating sometimes stressful appointment schedules. We’ll done.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 20, 2022 / 11:23 pm

      Hey there. Right, I missed the job. I kept decently busy during the two years when the job, due to covid, was on hold. But I like having some amount of a structured work schedule as part of my life.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Michele Anderson October 21, 2022 / 7:19 pm

    That’s wonderful, Neal. It’s always a good feeling when you know you are helping people, or animals too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 21, 2022 / 9:40 pm

      Hi, Michele. Right, I get satisfaction from the volunteer job. I’ve been with it since 2010, with a two year hiatus due to the pandemic, and am glad that I found it. Thanks for dropping by. See ya!

      Liked by 1 person

  38. denisebushphoto October 22, 2022 / 10:40 am

    I love the sense of humor you bring to your writing. It generous of you to volunteer your time. I quit substitute teaching when COVID attacked and had some of the same feelings. It’s a good feeling to be useful for sure.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter October 22, 2022 / 4:23 pm

    This sounds like a very useful service. It’s also very rewarding for you to be able to interact with a variety of people and be of help – not everyone is suited to that role, but it seems you definitely are!

    Liked by 2 people

  40. annieasksyou October 22, 2022 / 5:25 pm

    So glad you’re back to your do-goodness. It is a boon for mind and soul in addition to brightening the world a bit. But you started in July. Can you account for your lapse in informing those of us who watch your every step–for three whole months or so?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger October 22, 2022 / 10:28 pm

      Hi. You know, it never occurred to me to write about returning to the job . . . until one day not long ago when the idea popped into my head.


  41. Jeff the Chef October 23, 2022 / 12:20 pm

    Cool! I think it’s great when hospitals have greeters, because I think that people are usually either upset or nervous when they arrive, and then being confused about where to go and what to do makes it all worse. Thanks for helping out!

    Liked by 2 people

  42. Crystal Byers October 23, 2022 / 12:34 pm

    Good for you, Neil. I just read another blog about how small talk like, “How’s it going?” and “See ya,” are good for your mental health. Now if I could only find a volunteer to grade my papers.

    Liked by 2 people

  43. Pam Lazos October 24, 2022 / 5:01 pm

    Neil – I laughed out loud about the parking because I have lost my car more than a time it two!😂 And as a serial volunteerer (if that’s even a word) and kindred spirit, I know of what you speak and agree that the world needs more of your efforts and then some! So on behalf of all those who forgot where they parked, thanks for getting out there, using your Spidey skills for finding lost objects, people and cars, and shining your light in the world. ♥️😂😘

    Liked by 2 people

  44. Linda Pearce Griffin October 25, 2022 / 10:08 pm

    You regard yourself as “not all that genteel” but I suspect you may be an angel in disguise. Bless you for helping your fellow humans find their way.

    Liked by 2 people

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