There’s Nothing Wrong With Keeping Options Open

Okay so you’re sitting in the front row of your child’s high school graduation, the commencement speaker is a no show, the Principal asks if anyone would like to come up and say a few words, no one offers so she points at you. Realizing that you’re the last hope for a speaker for the ceremony you walk up on stage to a chorus of cheers. Sure they would probably grab a teacher or school board member as a last second fill in but it could happen. Just in case, you might want to have something prepared.

Sure you could just get up there and say, “follow your dreams,” but I think someone might have covered the dream topic, once or twice. I think that I would talk about options, the more the merrier. Provide yourself with options, in every aspect of your life. The government cannot supply you with options. They’re one of the few things you can’t order online. You have to gather them for yourself. The harder you work, the more options you will have. When it comes to options, life is fair.

Great speakers draw on life experiences to drive home their point. I have an abundance to choose from, but I’ll go with a recent one. Back in 2016, after being involved with family businesses most of my life I took a job with a sporting goods store in our local mall. After about six months I was offered the position of full time assistant manager. I was taught to be obedient to duty above all else. I never missed a days work during the over two years that I was there. I often filled in for co-workers if they needed a personal day. I volunteered to work open to close on Mother’s day, Father’s day, and other holidays so that those with young families could spend the day together. Jerry Reed said, “Take from life so you might learn to give.” As Father Time turns the pages, it becomes more about giving.

Hard work and dedication didn’t necessarily provide you with job security. That goal was best accomplished by praising those above you and blaming those below you, and I was never really good at either one. Not caring who’s offended by the truth has always been more to my liking. Which earned me quality time with store and corporate management. Everything from my honesty, integrity, disposition, and even my mental condition was called into question. I was even accused of “drifting,” whatever that means. My journey from the favorite son to the prodigal one was complete indeed after I had offered some concerns to our district manager on a variety of issues, including store safety. And my defense of a young, college bound employee who faced disciplinary action for exhibiting poor customer service skills on a night where he wasn’t even working bored the HR department. The corporate policy handbook didn’t lend itself to some nostalgic, frontier era sense of honor and fair play. Obviously, the loyalty I had given without reservation didn’t appear to be a two way street.

So what should I do? Fortunately for me I had put myself in the position where my options were unlimited. I could take my old school work ethic somewhere else, start another business, pursue warmer winters with our youngest flying the coop. I even thought about writing an article about it but my mind is probably drifting to the point these days where I would have trouble putting words together.

Eddy Raven said, “Cowboys don’t cry they move on.” So I did, with no regrets, and no hard feelings. They’re best left at the station when boarding the option train. So in closing kids, you’re not going to remember this entire speech but please remember this. Always provide yourself with plenty of options. Never sacrifice your integrity for a paycheck. And above all else, always protect the name that your parents gave you at birth. Good luck, Godspeed, and by the way, follow your dreams.

Dan Nelson is a Bemus Point resident.