There was a period in my life when I had more plans than time. I was on my game both in the house and the yard. I worked on projects because I wanted to, not because there was an arbitrary deadline chosen by someone who spent all their working hours thinking of ways to interfere with my life.
Eventually working eight hours a day outside took precedent over the things I wanted to accomplish from day to day. I fell into a rut. I came very close to mowing down the perennial bed by the driveway one afternoon in early summer. I didn't want to be reminded of what I left at work when I arrived home. If it weren't for sheer exhaustion and the very real possibility of a heat stroke, I probably would have done it. I got lazy.
Eight weeks ago that all came to a screeching halt when our store manager announced his decision to relocate seven of the twelve department managers in the store. When the final announcement was made, I have to say I was honestly excited to hear that I would be one of the ones being shifted to another part of the store. No longer in OSLG, there would be no ethical issue arising from the plans I had discussed with Todd on the front steps more than a year earlier.
For the past six weeks, I've spent my days inside where its 74 degrees year round selling lawnmowers, patio furniture, and garden trinkets made in China and Mexico. I've learned to slow down and I'm actually enjoying the change of pace.
I took over the Seasonal and Outdoor Power Equipment departments as the Garden Center became quieter each day from lack of foot traffic. Our mature clientel do not function well when the heat index reaches 105F for what seemed like weeks at a time. The younger folks spend the summer trying to toss each other from their waverunners on the two lakes nearby.
Ive stepped out of the proverbial frying pan and into a whole mess of firepits and kerosene heaters. We're in the middle of our fall resets. This morning, my manager, who used to work at the other end of the store in lumber, had plans to install the 16 beams and 32 pieces of decking for the Christmas lights already arriving a few boxes at a time every other day. I will find out Monday if he accomplished his self-prescribed task.
I've been working in retail for over three years now since the economy was wrecked by people whose sole existence is based on greed. Every week I print a schedule decided on by a person I've never met. I imagine he or she works in a cubicle a long way from any operating windows or doors. This person does not know that I function best when I follow the cyclical rhythms designed by Mother Nature.
In summer, I wake as soon as the sky is light. I go to bed not long after the Datura are fully open. During the cold dark winter, I prefer to sleep as much as possible. That's just a dream when you have to be at work at 5am on Tuesday, leave at 2pm, and return the following day for a 3 to 11pm shift. The body doesn't get used to a schedule like that.
For at least a year and a half, I've been dreaming of the day when I once again control my own schedule. I've logged hundreds of miles across the rough concrete in the Garden Center hauling and lifting tons of soil, mulch, and living materials. It will become a reality sooner rather than later. At first it will supplement my meager wages with plans to transition to a career as my business grows.
At the end of July, I installed a small pond complete with stone and some plants purchased or dug from my own yard for Carla's neighbor. She's got friends that have inquired about my time and availability. I spent a lot of hot and cold days making a name for myself in this town. I sowed and planted. I read blogs and participated in online communities. I got sweaty and passed that information along to customers for less money than I made in a textile mill between high school and college in the early 90s. It's almost time for me to claim what is rightfully mine. I've worked hard to learn what I now know.
To all those that have helped me over the four years that I have spent here transforming not just a yard and house, but myself as well, I can never thank you all enough for the knowledge I've acquired. Little snippets of plants and pounds of seed were shared and passed on to others with the same information given to me. I honestly cannot thank you enough fully aware that in doing so, I threaten the existence of the plants that were shared. There comes a time when knowledge must be separated from superstition. That time is fast approaching.
I look forward to the next several years working to build yet another business from scratch. I wish you could all follow along but I've got to do this one alone. Good health, best wishes, and may all your dreams be realized whether in the garden or not.
Tom Gainey, gardener
Dear Tom ~ Oh wow, my mood kept sinking as I read because I had a feeling something was coming that would be a bit sad, for your followers. But I wish you well in your new venture, but know you are going to be missed. I hate to see you go but know that you are going to do GREAT with your new business. You have a talent and you have knowledge.
I think of you every time I see my gardenia bushes and thank you for them. I hope to see blooms next year. They are really looking good.
We met in the Cottage Gardens forum, and followed each others blogs and I've always enjoyed reading about and seeing pictures of your home and your gardens.
You know, we would love to hear about this next bit of your life and hope that someday you'll blog once again.
Hugs ~ FlowerLady
I wish you the very best, Tom. Yours was one of the first blogs I read with I found the garden blogging community and I've happily been following ever since. I hope you'll be giving us an update from time to time.
I was in the same rut until 2004 I quit my job. Last year I paid more taxes than I'd liked but my business is booming. Glad I make my own schedule now. Hope all works out for the best for you! You will do just find my friend!
My guess is that Mgr. has been watching you and what you have achieved and the pride you took in making the garden dept. the best it's probably ever been. I have a feeling that he wants all Dept. mgr. to know something about every dept. not just the one you head up. Bet you are being groomed for something better. Think of this as an opportunity for advancement. Now you can go back enjoying your home and beautiful gardens more. Keep up the great work you have done on your own self improvement. I'm so proud of you! I'm betting that with that big weight loss you are feeling better health wise plus better about yourself; more confident.
Tom, I wish you all the best in the new business. If anyone can do it successfully, you can!
Those people will be lucky getting someone as knowledgeable as you.
I didn't like my first comment, so I'll go Flower Lady's route.
I first came across you and your enthusiasm on GW, which I have been a member of since the 90's. I still go there for inspiration.
Not only your passion for all aspects of gardening, but your ability to write about it with humor was a real draw! I wanted to read more.
Being a business owner now for three years,...I've worked harder and longer and dealt with things I never dreamed, but in the end I can say "I did it.", and you will too.
For me, I'll miss the countdown clock for Spring! JaJaJa
I do hope you download your blog and have it bound.
I can relate to many of your feelings. I get to reinvent myself in a few years. I wish you the best as you do so for yourself. Hope you can somehow update us. Sending you all the positive energy for your new adventure.
I also met you on the Cottage Gardening forum and have thoroughly enjoyed following your blog ever since. It's one of the few gardening blogs I read.
Wishing you much success and happiness as you expand your horizons.
Being a new reader I find it hard to quite understand everything. But I have worked in a big box home improvement center, and I was just a glorified mulch loader. None of my horticulture knowledge was needed or wanted by management. Good luck on your endeavors.
Thanks for the enjoyable reads I've had here. I will miss you. Best of luck to you.
i read this the other day tom and just didn't know what to say. are you going to stop posting altogether? i hope not. i bet you have no idea how many people read every post, me included! sounds like you're on a new path, though, and that's exciting. thanks for sharing your garden news all this time. all the best to you.
Here's wishing you all the best in your new life adventure, Tom. I know you'll make a good go of it. Hopefully you'll find time to keep us in the loop, but if not, GOOD LUCK.
nice posting buddy !
I'm not even sure how I found your blog (perhaps a link on GW) but I've been quietly enjoying it for a few months now. I love the personality of your garden and you have a friendly, familiar way with words. I'm disheartened to hear it is coming to an end but at the same time, I'm so happy you've found a wonderful adventure in your life.
btw, Koda is adorable!
Good luck to you and please keep us posted from time to time.
All the best. Keep in touch. You know how to find me on Facebook. You are always welcome in Charleston!!
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