Better late than never…

“Glenside”. It was the young conductor announcing. He was in baggy uniform with suspenders and a Star Wars logo embroidered onto his belt. Not sure how SEPTA allowed it but he seemed to get away with it. It was about 7:15 in the morning and most of the passengers were still waking up though on the train. It was my first day to my new work and my very first day of taking the train to the city in about ten plus years! I was supposed to be at work at 8:30. After days of contemplating and researching, I figured it is best to just take the train though a $13 round-trip fare appeared expensive. Only later I was to find out parking is close to $20 or $25 per day. Add to that gas and the stress of driving on the Schuykill expressway, it should have been a no-brainer to start with. As I had gotten onto the train, I noticed the passengers – all dressed up for their work – had formed a line. Maybe I was half asleep and in the hurry didn’t notice it I guess. Someone was polite enough to let me get through. But no one was complaining. Everyone was eager to take a seat and resume the dose-off or dive into the morning paper.

Photo by Philippe CLABOTER

Photo by Philippe CLABOTER

“Where to?” she asked. It was my seat-mate. She was a middle-aged African-American lady. For the chilly morning, she appeared up-beat.

“Suburban”, I said.

“O, I get off at Temple”. I had noticed quite a few of the younger, college-going crowd. They must all be headed to Temple, I thought. She must be an employee.

“I haven’t seen you in the past on this train, are you new to the area?”, she asked. I told her that it was my first train ride to the city in more than ten years.

“That makes sense”, she nodded. “What takes you there?” she went on. I  wasn’t in a mood to converse much. I was thinking about my new job. It was Day 1 of orientation and I couldn’t help but keep evaluating what a change I had brought upon myself. Happily ensconced in my previous job would have been how someone would have categorized me as. I was nearly eight years there and the senior most in my group. I knew the product very well and was more efficient that any of my supervisors thought – this meant I could do a job in less time than budgeted and I could have easily stretched my legs the rest of the time. But not being that type and wanting to be challenge or seeing a consistent lack of challenge, I had started looking out and found this job at one of the top consulting firms in the world. This job was my dream job as I had started my career 20 plus years back, but somehow I hadn’t been able to get on that bandwagon. I lacked the credentials that the firm would seek in a graduate. Back then, the firms wouldn’t recruit in India as they do now-a-days. Now, I now at least a couple of my friends children have gotten into the Googles and Microsofts of this world right from there. Anyway, looking over the past four months how the interviews went and how the start with the firm had been and a lot of other events in my life, it all looks perfectly positioned by God so I have felt blessed many times in the recent past.

“It is my first day at this new job”.

“Wow, congratulations!!” A few heads turned around as I noticed. I was all dressed up. “Where at?”

“Accenture”, I said.

“Never heard of them. What do they do? Do they sell food products?”. I couldn’t help smile. The two young girls sitting next to us half-turned with a smile. Obviously they knew the company.

“They are into consulting, outsourcing, staffing”, I said.

“Good for them. Consulting, huh? That means good money”, she trailed off not wanting to press on it.

“All I know is lots of hard work ahead, much like 50-60 hours per week.”

“That isn’t crazy to me. I work two jobs couple of weeks a month and I do so much time anyway.” I couldn’t help notice the resignation she had on her face. I wanted to tell her that I had taken the job not for the money, but for more challenges. But I was sure it wouldn’t make sense to her.

“Temple is next” announced the young man opening the door.

“Well, good luck with your new job. Hope to see you again another day!”. She smiled at me but that didn’t wipe away the burden I sensed in her eyes. There must have been something that was pressing down on her – I had realized late or she hadn’t given it away. That reminded me one of the reasons God gave me this job and made me as successful (note I didn’t say ‘so successful’) as I have been in this life – everything is relative of course, but you should never undermine any – was because he wants me to do as much good as I could working through these challenges. The job-related challenge ahead was itself not all of it, there was more responsibility that lay behind them. This thought made me puts things in perspective and dispelled my more trivial concerns. As I got off at the station and onto 17th street, I could see a bright, blue early morning sky and it looked like a bright day ahead for me!


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