Sunday, June 4, 2017

An update on my career path

It's been a little while since I updated you on my career path which, as you know, has taken a few detours over the last couple of years since my exit from radio broadcasting after 40 years of service.  So this weekend I'll bring you up to speed on the current situation which includes some positive changes.

As many of you know in the fall of 2015 I began my New Adventure with Canada Post, after a rather rigorous selection process.  At the time I was pleasantly surprised I made it all the way through the various screening processes and had a new career as a casual, on-call letter carrier in St. Catharines.  I was told back then don't count on making this your only job as it is only on-call, but for me at least, I had more than enough work to keep me going most of the year.

There were down times for us casuals in late April/early May and late September/early October, but otherwise I was working almost every day.  So for me, the down time allowed me some much-needed rest and recharge for the next round of busy work schedules.  We knew going in this would be the case, but again for me, I was fine with it.

The goal of the casual worker is to get hired on permanently at Canada Post, although this can often take years to accomplish as older workers retire and positions open up.  The fact others can transfer in to this area and take a position based on seniority can slow the process down as well.  But you always hold out hope this will someday happen, hopefully sooner rather than later.

After another winter walking the routes in all sorts of inclement weather, I debated whether I would continue once I hit the age of 60 marker, which happens later this coming week.  I was getting tired and my back was starting to ache by the end of those long walks.  I was a late starter at this game and although I worked hard to keep up with the 'young bucks' I was usually the last one out of the depot in the morning and the last one back at the end of the shift.

Still and all, it is a great job and you meet a lot of great people on your walks.  The nice days are usually a pleasure; who can resist walking in the sunshine on a nice spring or fall day and getting paid to do it?  Granted, the nasty weather makes the walk less enjoyable but even then, properly protected from the elements you can manage to work through it well enough.

This past winter although snow was not as big an issue around these parts much of the season, the ice we had prior to Christmas and the March break blizzard both presented their challenges to us letter carriers both young and old alike.  But as they say, through snow, rain, hail, etc. the mail must go through and so it is on a daily basis at Canada Post.

While I was pondering my future back in March, slogging through knee-high snowdrifts while delivering the mail, I had a call from my supervisor asking if I would be interested in training for a temporary posting inside in the retail division.  It would involve extensive learning in order to know all the different aspects of the job to properly serve the customers in a timely manner, but after careful consideration I agreed to the opportunity.

So in April I did the required training following my last mail routes the week following Easter weekend.  I knew I would be posted to the main post office on Queen Street in downtown St. Catharines providing sick relief on what was expected to be a long-term basis.  While it was a steep learning curve I managed to get the hang of it and enjoyed meeting a lot of the downtown people I have known for years working in the centre of the city.  It was basically a 9 to 5 full time job inside, so what's not to like?

Then a funny thing happened.

The third week into my posting downtown I caught a very nasty cold and was off work for several days, which for me is unusual and rather ironic as I walked the entire winter outside with little trouble and once I get an inside job I catch a cold.  Go figure.  But as you are dealing with the public face to face and handling cash on a daily basis it is almost inevitable you will catch something.

By the third day of the cold I was particularly frustrated by my slow recovery when the phone rang.  It was the call every casual waits for.  I had been hired permanently at Canada Post!  Yes, I felt a little better after the call for sure!

There are different roles you can apply for at Canada Post, including of course full-time letter carrier. I gave careful thought to my choices but ultimately given my age and the number of years I had left before retirement, I included in my choices a part-time position working inside the depot helping with the morning sort and processing of parcels.  And that is the position I was hired for.

The day starts early, usually at 5.  But after years of getting up early for a 5 am start in radio I was well used to the routine so to me it was just like old times.  Being part time I only work four or five hours a day so I am usually done by either 9 or 10 in the morning depending on the shift and the volume of mail, and then the rest of the day is mine.

After a couple of weeks in my new position I couldn't be happier.  I am an early riser by nature anyway and there is a certain pleasure in getting the work day done very early, I find.  The shift often flies by on busy days and before I know it I am heading out and on my way to the Y to walk the track, shower and head home at noon for lunch.  The afternoon is mine to do whatever I wish.

Oh I will have no trouble filling the time in the afternoon, I can assure you.  Lots of things to do around the house I will now have time for, and on nice days when Sophie is working all day I can sneak out and enjoy an escape in the sunshine, as I did this past Friday afternoon.  What's not to like?

I also plan to do some things I simply have not had time for the last while such as writing more, both in this space and on a book or two I know I have in me.  I want to write about my experiences finding a second career late in life and weathering the tricky employment reality today, for one.  I even have a working title for the book, but that will be a well-kept secret for now.

While this is not a scenario that would suit everyone it is absolutely perfect for me.  I am at the stage in my life where I can work a little less and spend a little more time doing what I like and I have to admit I am ready for that.  For over fifty years now I have been working at one job or another in some capacity, and many years more than one job at once.  For me the time was right to slow down just a little and easy ever so gently into what I am calling semi-retirement.

I am blessed to have the opportunity to essentially end my career with Canada Post, working with a talented team of professionals I have an immense amount of respect for.  Every day brings with it new challenges and every day the team I work with rises to the challenge and shows what they're made of.  I am proud to have this opportunity to work alongside them every day.

So as the big 6-0 looms on the horizon this week, know I am exactly where I want to be at this stage in my life:  working in many ways to make the city a better place to be.  It will be a busy time, but this writer is looking forward to the challenge.

Onwards and upwards we go...join me for the ride of a lifetime!

June 4th, 2017.

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