If its one thing Dawson discovered in his years of employment following college, was that he didn’t have a problem taking on jobs in which no one else was interested. He’d shrug, then shuffle off to figure out a solution, implying through action and attitude that it was all the same to him. You’d think that would make him a highly valued employee. Instead, each one of Dawson’s bosses zeroed in on his lack of passion and zeal. They seemed to prefer big drama, fireworks and hissy fits to a shrug and getting on with it.
Here’s what he saw on a daily basis; people jockeying for praise, recognition, striving while subtly pointing fingers at the guy in the next cubicle. It left Dawson feeling dispirited. He had passion for sure, passion for aim his bat at his office computer. Then he’d smash the goofy bobble head his neighbor invariably seemed to treasure regardless of where he worked. Ditto for the Mr. Coffee machine, that spit out the same tepid coffee at nine a.m. sharp every Monday morning without fail.
At night, he’d head to one of many batting cages around town and work through his rage, reflecting on the series of stupid decisions that had brought him to now, this moment, this point in his life.
While helping to move his parents from his childhood home to a shack in the woods of northern New Hampshire, he unearthed his college notebooks. Each was filled with earnest notes that just about broke his heart. It read like a recipe for a future that was never quite realized. He saved the Ten Commandments of running a successful business from his Financial Planning and Management class and tossed out the rest.
That night, he taped the Ten Commandments his refrigerator, so that every time he went to get a chilled Gatorade or beer, he’d be reminded of his ambition to be a somebody. Eventually, all that quiet needling worked its way through his system. He found a thriving custom metal fabricator specializing in “swag”, an industry he knew nothing about. According to commandment number six that wasn’t a serious obstacle. “Never let your fear of not knowing an industry keep you from jumping in feet first.”
With money saved, he purchased the business located in the marginal lands of the outer boroughs. At first, he was delighted that there was no Mr. Coffee Machine, no company picnic, no need to evaluate workers on their passion, enthusiasm and zeal. Instead, there were visits to potential clients, tracking jobs and fielding complaints from irate customers. He needed to staff up, but he also needed to run to the next client meeting.
It took awhile before his old buddy rage resurfaced. By then, he had been running after dwindling business opportunities for a few years. Turns out his steady clients were at first intrigued and then smitten by the possibilities of custom apps. No longer did they have to ship, lug and disperse the metal cups, key chains and coasters they had formerly employed to promote their brand. No longer did they have to design and pay for shipping and handling for all these give-aways. Now, a brand could be promoted with a discrete tap on a screen.
Business was drying up faster than a puddle on the hot highway. Dawson, who hadn’t thought about batting cages for a good five years, began revisiting old haunts. For Christmas, his wife and kids bought him a portable battling cage that they had hoped he would install in the just finished basement of their split-level. But the ceilings were too low and Dawson didn’t feel at liberty to bellow out one curse after another that had become part of his routine.
He set up the batting cage at work. In lieu of balls he used the cups, key chains and coasters created for orders that were then canceled. After hours, he’d wallop the bits of metal that his workers created so perfectly during the day. But this killed morale.
Now, Dawson rents a unit at the local self storage. Most nights, he’ll drag cartons of the abandoned swag to his unit and wallop the metal trinkets and junk it into one corner or other until he feels some measure of relief.