“Yo, Chris, I just had to call you because I wanted to be the one to tell you. Todd fired me today. I didn’t want you to hear it through the grapevine. I’m going to miss your brother the most. Stay in touch and shit.”
This was the voicemail that a coworker back home named Alex left on my cell phone. I remember bonding with Alex the first day I met him over the fact we both studied journalism. He attended Michigan State and had interned at Vice. We both discussed how much we loved Hunter S. Thompson. He had the quote “Some may never live, but the crazy never die” tattooed on his arms in that trippy Ralph Steadman writing.
But here was this guy that went to a well-known college and decided to be a chef upon graduating, and then work at a flower warehouse. As a journalism student, this terrified me. I didn’t want to be stuck like so many of my coworkers, including my brother.
I wrote on his Facebook wall Sunday, wishing him a happy birthday. But the response I received from him took me by surprise.
“Thanks, Chris. Keep killin’ it, man. We’re all really proud of you, dude.”
A post intended for him became a heart-felt message to me. It reinforced the reason why I strive to be the best individual I possibly can be. I owe it to the people supporting me to succeed in life — for my brothers and all of the Alexs in the world.
In this day and age, college graduates are lucky to find a job in their career field — or a job in general. It takes restless nights, a strong work ethic and constant reminders from supporters to accomplish your goals.
Whenever I come home for break, I work at the warehouse to replenish my bank account. But I probably wouldn’t if it weren’t for the people I work with. They’re a second family to me. I’ve never met a group of people who make me laugh so hard. Whether Alex is making flame throwers with spray paint cans, throwing yogurts at the wall or shoving the driver supervisor’s tie down his paints, I’m always smiling, even on the bad days.
I bring the newest issue of DoNorth magazine home with me and give everybody a copy. Hearing how proud everybody is of me reminds me to always chase my dream. My dream is to someday work for a publication in New York City. It would be a nightmare to have to spend the rest of my days working in a warehouse. But some have fallen into that trap. One of my coworkers, whom we call Saw, has been working there for nearly 10 years, and I don’t see him getting out of there anytime soon.
Sometimes, all it takes to get on the right track is little reminders from friends and family congratulating you on a job well done, even if it’s only one A. That’s one letter grade that’ll help boost your GPA. The little things are what keep us pushing on to accomplish the big things.
Email Chris Burek at firstname.lastname@example.org