Lessons Learned from a Yellow Umbrella
Today my yellow work umbrella retired. I call it Yellow. You know the kind; it’s the one you keep under your desk in case it’s raining when it’s time to go home. (Shame on you for not having one!)
Yellow had a long, productive career following me pretty much everywhere I worked. I bought it in 1985 when I took my first job out of college to work in downtown Houston. We were both new to this employment thing and ready to stand out. There were thousands of worker bees swarming the grid of the Houston business district, sporting their traditional black umbrellas on those days when the Texas humidity crossed over the line and became rain. I chose to be different and so Yellow and I formed an alliance at the local Target store, choosing to stand out in the crowd (and also making it easier to find on a crowded commuter bus.)
Houston led to San Antonio, a couple job changes, and we seemed to drift apart with less rain and then an eventual coveted under-cover, front door parking spot. But Yellow still remained faithfully by my desk or in my briefcase even though I failed to protect it and lost the sleeve it had called home for several years.
About 12-13 years into our relationship, we moved cross country to South Carolina. I think that move cost Yellow the button at the tip of its canopy. We each gained a few scars with that move. This was new territory for Yellow and something that Target’s manufacturer may have not prepared it for—this was the land of HURRICANES. They came fast and hard those first couple years. Almost one every weekend for awhile and sometimes into November. It was a test of both our resolves. But we made it through the storms and a job change. And I began parking at the back of the new parking lot to get in more steps and spend a little more time with Yellow.
Eventually we gave up the coastal life and headed for the mountains where hurricanes couldn’t touch us so easily. That’s probably when I lost the wrist strap from Yellow—more from an early, undiagnosed onset of dry rot than any weather-related catastrophe. There was a final job change and Yellow rose to its greatest level of importance. There was now a mailbox to be emptied each day and this offered NUMEROUS opportunities to stretch its ribs, flex its canopy, and pop with precision when the button was pushed!
But, alas, we’ve both recently been told our services are no longer required. So Yellow traveled home in a carefully crafted cardboard box that almost took an engineering degree to fold into a cube. There was a fitting tribute indicating the importance of the contents as Bankers Box was printed across the side and, more lovingly, a yellow post-it on top that said “Not for the Attic”.
I venture to say it is quite rare for an umbrella to survive a thirty-four-year career with multiple city moves not to mention fifteen different cubicles, closets, or offices. Time to introduce Yellow to those casual, relaxing days of dog walks, gutter cleaning, and garden inspections.
So, what did I personally learn from Yellow the umbrella that I could pass on to young professionals?
- Be different; stand out.
- Quality lasts; no cheap fixes.
- Use the push button; expand your mind.
- Retract; the time eventually comes to fold up and try something new.
Enjoy your retirement little buddy. You’ve earned it.