Saturday, July 4, 2009


Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire. ~Arnold H. Glasow

A Long Hot Summer
By Carolee Ware
From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Woman to Woman

There are numerous reasons why a middle-aged woman who has been away from the workforce rearing her children decides to go back to work. The obvious might be for money, but that was not my reason.

After my children departed for college, perhaps I was just bored, or possibly I was suffering from the empty nest syndrome, but in actuality I think I decided to return to work because I was just plain hot. Colorado was experiencing an extremely hot, dry summer and my home lacked air conditioning. It was hot, and I was hot. I determined a cool air conditioned office was where I belonged! Years ago my first job was that of a bookkeeper - - it was then that I worked for money. While my children were growing up I worked part time in the school system as a teacher’s aide.

This time around I wanted to do something different, something new and exciting, and the money wasn’t too important, as my husband made a very comfortable living for us. But what should I do? What sort of job should I look for? I knew I needed to be cautious as to what I became involved with.

I am not a “quitter” and therefore I hoped to avoid becoming obligated to an employer in a job that might turn out to be a mistake for me.

While I agonized over what to do, I was reminded of a past incident where I needed to replace my original engagement ring as the gold was wearing thin. My husband and I shopped and shopped for one, everywhere we went, even when we were on vacation. Finally this nonstop searching prompted my poor husband to ask, “Just what kind of ring do you want, what exactly are we looking for?”

My reply was, “I honestly don’t know, but when I see the correct setting, I will know it.” That was the way I felt about the new career I wished to pursue; I didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to do, but knew there was a perfect fit for me, if I would just be patient.

Fortunately, that summer while attending my twenty-fifth high school class reunion, I overheard a former classmate describing what she did for a living. She was a travel agent, and she and her husband had just returned from a trip to Hawaii where they acted as chaperones for a group of travelers. WOW, that sounded like fun, considerably more fun and exciting than being a bookkeeper.

Apparently this profession also had some great travel benefits. I innocently pondered the idea of becoming a travel agent. After all, how difficult could it be to write airline tickets and plan vacations? I reasoned if my friend could do it, I probably could, too, and after all, “I love to travel.” I later learned uttering the phrase, “I love to travel”, is a surefire way to prevent you from being hired when applying for a job in the travel industry. That phrase is definitely a no-no!

BINGO! It was as if fireworks lit up the night sky! Right then and there I knew without a doubt, I had found the perfect fit; I wanted to be a travel agent. Little did I realize travel agents are a specialized group of individuals whose work is both stressful and demanding. Theirs is a profession requiring special education, training and experience to become proficient. There is definitely more to it than meets the eye. There is unquestionably more to it than just generating airline tickets.

I began scanning the “help wanted” ads in my local newspaper and quickly discovered agencies were interested in hiring “experienced only travel agents, or airline personnel.” I was neither. However, one agency located near my home (how lucky can you get) had an entry-level position available that involved answering the phone, typing itineraries and packaging tickets. The owner made it very clear this position would never lead to an agent position or agent training, but offered me an interview if I was interested. I was definitely interested! I interviewed and was hired. Bravo, at least I had my foot in the door.

After working on the packaging desk for nine months, I approached the agency owner, and again expressed my desire to become a travel agent. Fortunately, she made an exception and broke her

“no experience no training” rules by enrolling me in a United Airlines computer training course. Thus, I realized my dream and became a full-fledged agent.

My confidence and self-worth increased with each error-free reservation and each satisfied customer. I was having a ball! I learned as much as possible about the foreign destinations I booked and got to know my clients well, so their special needs could always be met. I loved my work and took pride in it. I am proud to say, never once did I take the marvelous travel benefits I was receiving for granted. I did keep track of them, however, and received a great deal of satisfaction the year the value of my benefits exceeded my yearly salary. Now that is what I call a job! Way back when I began this career, I could not imagine myself working full time, but just as quickly couldn’t visualize myself not working full time, for I was having the time of my life!

What a positive impact those middle-age “hot flashes” had on my life. Ultimately, I became a top-producing corporate international sales agent before my early retirement seventeen years later. I also experienced a world of travel, some shared with family and friends. Most importantly, I proved to myself I could do what I made up my mind to do, no matter how difficult or foreign the task. Yes indeed, life is beautiful and life can begin at forty-plus years of age.

Career Discovery

To find a career that you are truly passionate about,. list the activities you enjoy doing most; cooking, organizing, etc. Often these activities will help frame an idea on what your next career could be. When you find a career based upon a passion, returning to work will be an easier transition, and will ultimately lead to greater and longer-lasting job satisfaction.

No matter who you are, where you live, how rich you are or what your age is, life happens to all of us. However, we are all different and we need to find our own way.

Happy Fourth of July, 2009

Careers with Confidence: 6 Steps to Getting Back to Work

Live passionately... what else have you got to do!

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1 comment :

  1. Grandma Ware, thank you for the great story of your working life, the great advice and for taking me on many wonderful trips during your travel agent career. I love you!


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