A long-term care administrator I know had a little surprise for a prospective employee during a recent job interview. When the candidate began rhapsodizing about all the valuable time she’d accrued in the profession, he looked over his glasses and asked, “So, do you really have five years of experience, or just one year five times?”
I don’t think that question is original with him, but it worked. The conversation came to a screeching halt, and he learned a lot by how the suddenly squirming applicant responded. Had she really been growing along the way, or just going through the minimal motions, passively performing duties as assigned, year after year?
A more naïve, much younger version of myself acted like life was a big, empty pie crust, and the years were like strawberries tossed casually inside. No need to pay undue attention to them, because there would always be plenty of room to pile on one more somehow. I’m a Boomer after all — invincible and quite possibly even immortal.
But around the time my hair disappeared and my clothes didn’t fit, I was startled to discover that life is actually a one-way stroll down a yardstick. It’s left to right. A beginning to a definite end. What came as an epiphany to me, of course, is old news to long-term care people who are faced with the transience of life very day. But I’m a slower learner, and in this very linear journey am feeling more than a little urgency.
So here’s my one sappy but sincere resolution this year: to value life and time. Not that I don’t, but far more than I do. To recognize and act on the obvious, that life is finite and time is a diminishing, highly exhaustible resource.
Here at the start of my New Year’s job interview, I plan to look at myself across the desk, make solid eye contact and ask that sobering question: Do I have 52 years of experience, or just one year 52 times? n
Gary Tetz writes from his secret lair somewhere near Walla Walla, WA. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.