From the Blog

I HATED Being An Employee! – (From My First Job At Age 15 To Starting My First Business In 1996)

Cover Photo of the blog post I hated being an Employee

The 5th episode of the [… and Landlord] Podcast begins with a quote…

“Don’t let the best you have done so far be the standard for the rest of your life.”

- Gustavus F. Swift

This quote relates because I’ve been seeking and working towards something more for my life since I became an adult almost 29 years ago upon graduation from high school. I’d been an employee since my first job of age 15 at McDonald’s – and I HATED every minute of it! I had been able to get steadily better jobs in food service, retail, etc… But I was still an employee, so they were only slightly less excruciating.

While attending ITT Tech in Tampa FLA, I got my first permanent office job as a “Lien Release Coordinator” at Chase Home Mortgage Corporation (prior to that I was working as a Temp in several office positions, aided by my fast typing speed and being good on the phone). At Chase, when people paid off their home mortgage, I processed the paperwork to release the lien against the property… It was the best and highest paying job I had to that point in my life, and it was STILL excruciating.

You see, I was NOT cut out to be an employee. I did not know what or how, but I always new that I would eventually start and run my own business. I did not know it at the time, but I wanted to move from the [E] to the [S] Cashflow Quadrant. I graduated ITT with a degree in Electronic Engineering Technology (I did not go to a traditional four year college because of the cost, time and just didn’t see the need). As part of the graduation job placement assistance, I applied to what was then GTE Mobilnet in Sarasota FLA (now Verizon) as a “Cellular Tech”, but instead got offered and accepted a position as “Installer”, installing cell phones into cars. It was 1993 and I was 21 years old. It was a fun job with good people, but again, I HATED it, as I was STILL an employee.

I had to be at work at 8 AM; got a couple short breaks; went to lunch around Noon (and had to be back within 1 hour); could not leave until 5 PM, but only if I was finished with the installs for that day (keep in mind, this was at a time when cell phones only made phone calls and they were mostly installed in cars). I repeated this process 5 days per week and often worked overtime on Saturdays. I further had to go to bed each night around 11 PM or before, so that I could be up and ready for the 30 minute drive to work each morning from Bradenton (where I lived) to Sarasota by 8AM – as you cannot be late. So my entire day, night and week was dictated by job… Did I mention I HATED being an employee!?

I did this for 3 years (the longest I had been on the same job since starting work at age 15). But I wanted a promotion to the “Cellular Tech” position that I had originally applied for and had since started to do that work in addition to “Installer”. I even relocated to the new Bradenton store to get that job, but they gave it to someone else, so I returned to the Sarasota store. Then I found out that others (who I had trained) were getting paid more than I was… I was pissed! I won’t go into the details here, but I was now determined to leave.

Now back when I had graduated from ITT, my girlfriend at the time took me to Durham NC to meet her parents (another story, but she was the only person who came to see me graduate). On this trip to NC, it had stuck in my head that I liked Durham and it wouldn’t be a bad place to live someday. So when I started looking on the computer at the GTE internal job listings for the “Cellular Tech” position that I wanted, I found one had just been listed in Durham. I applied, they flew me out for an interview, offered me the position at a nice increase in pay, paid my full relocation, etc… Thus I began 1996 at a new job in my new home in Durham NC – where I had no family and no friends, since that prior relationship that made me aware of Durham had since ended.

I was now officially in what felt like a “Career”… and yes, I HATED it! Despite having the job that I wanted for years and still being blessed to be working with good people, nothing had changed, as I was STILL an employee – just now a slightly higher paid employee with better benefits and a slightly more rewarding job that felt like the start of my Tech Career.

But being higher paid and now being salaried instead of hourly, it created a little more freedom – for example, no one jumped all over my case if I was a few minutes late returning from lunch or had to arrive late or leave early on occasion. And I now had some extra money that allowed me to start my first business on the side… Finally!

And the moment I started my own business, my job was not nearly as bad as it had been the day and all those years before. It was no longer the unacceptable thing that I was forced to do each day to survive, but suddenly became a completely acceptable means to an end, which end was freedom from being an employee (I’ll resist the urge to use a “buying my freedom from slavery” analogy here, as I hate those and they are ALWAYS un-applicable).

I’ll continue this story in another post…

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