Yesterday marked the ninth anniversary of my last shift as a manager at Chuck E. Cheese’s. I left behind many people whom I had grown fond of that showed great potential. I’m talking about the teenage employees that worked for me. Since that time I have remained Facebook friends with many of them. I was correct- all of them have succeeded in their journey into adulthood.
Each of them took different paths. Some finished university, some got married and started families, some moved far away, and some started their own businesses. I’m really proud of them, as if they were my own family. In a way- maybe they were. I spent up to five years with some of them while working there.
I left that job to pursue a drastically different change of career- working as a switchman for a railroad. Most of the employees were excited for me. But there were the naysayers who didn’t want to see me succeed. This was my district manager, my general manager and a fellow manager. For some reason, none of them wanted to see me try something new to better my life. They assumed I’d fail. Nine years later… They were still wrong.
I made the choice to leave the restaurant/entertainment business to better my life and the lives of my family. Nearly every decision I have made since meeting my wife and starting a family has been to better our lives. Quitting jobs and exploring new paths is just one way I’ve put my family first. I was comfortable at the movie theater, Home Depot and the Chuck. But comfortable wasn’t moving my life forward or the lives of my family.
Working for a railroad has allowed my family to enjoy real vacations. It has affored my children the luxury of entering a choice fine arts school. It has paid for a roof over our heads (literally a new roof). Plus many more experiences and lifestyle improvements. None of this would have been possible if I hadn’t taken a chance on doing something completely out of my comfort zone.
In our lives there will always be naysayers. There will always be the ones who don’t want to see you succeed. There will always be the people who think that it’s only luck that has gotten you to where you are. Or that it’s not fair that you are enjoying life. Those are the voices you need to ignore. These are the people who would be happier in smirking at your misery than offer you support to reach your goals. Whenever someone has tried to push me down with negativity, I look at their life. Guaranteed it’s almost exactly not the life I want.
Years after leaving CEC, I’m still supporting many of my younger friends I made there. I have given references for their career paths, I have gone out to watch their performances, I have even made an effort to go to their places of work to offer congratulations in person. I have cheered them on through social media & offered my support during each of their journeys in life.
I am but one voice. But I have done my best to be that voice that offers encouragement.
This is the same voice that many of my former employees offered me when I left Chuck E. Cheese’s. Many of them may not have realized how encouraging it was to hear their opinions as I spent my final few days with them. It didn’t matter that most of them were a decade or more younger than I was. I had grown fond of them and valued each of them as a human being. As I left, it hurt. But it was for the betterment of my family.
A big thanks to my young supporters from nine years ago. My last bit of advice today- Don’t let other people prevent you from pursuing your dreams and goals. Keep up the good work!