I'm writing this in Orlando, where I'm covering the National Safety Council Congress and Expo for EHS Today. Aside from soaking in some of that Orlando sunshine by the pool the day I arrived (I know, I know, my life is so hard), I also had an enlightening conversation with a cab driver who left his office job to find professional bliss in the form of a yellow taxi.
"I remember what it was like to work in the same office day in and day out, with the same gray walls and rooms, all while trying to manage people who didn't truly want to be there," he told me. "Now I have a job that I love." He gestured out the front windows as we sped along a highway. "See what my scenary is everyday at work? And if I don't like it, I just have to wait five minutes for it to change."
Aside from the fact that his mother occasionally asks, "Why did you go to college if you were going to end up driving a cab?," this driver had settled on his dream career. There's no boring office, no apathetic employees, no boss, and he gets to talk to new people every day. He has a flexible schedule that allows him to work around his kids' activities, and his wife's job covers the medical insurance. "I'm living the life," this cab driver told me.
It was hard not to feel a little envious of this man for finding a job that suits him so perfectly -- and I'm saying this as someone who holds down a full-time position in her field and who just spent the afternoon lounging poolside for work. Rather, it was refreshing for someone to break convention (convention, in his case, entailed going to college and getting a steady office job) and instead embark on the career choice that truly makes him happy and that works with his lifestyle. How many people can say they've done the same?
Driving a cab wouldn't be my dream job, but it works for him. And you know what? His contentment was clear. He was chatty and friendly and even gave me a mini drive-by tour of some of Orlando's hot spots. He clearly didn't dread coming to work and he viewed each passenger as another piece to his puzzle of job fulfillment.
I wish more workers had that same sense of peace about their work. I also wish that more had the flexibility and the enjoyment that this man clearly does. Here at a conference dedicated to helping professionals keep workers safe, happy, and productive, I think we could all learn a little something from my cab driver.
But one thing I've learned from my years of attending shows like NSC, ASSE, AIHce and others is that EHS professionals are driven by a passion for their work and for protecting the health and well-being of employees. The job might not be a mobile "office" with no boss in sight, but I suspect many of the professionals here in Orlando are in the right place. And I'm not just talking about the pool.
What about you? Are you doing what you love? Does your job suit your lifestyle and provide what you're looking for beyond a paycheck?