November 19, 2012

What happened?


When I left my full time job a few years ago, I occasionally do freelance jobs (of all sorts) ...  to earn me some extra pocket money. One of the many ‘odd’ jobs that I do is providing transport ...  some call it “private taxi” but I still like to call it “providing transport”. I send people everywhere ... to airports, train stations and sometimes I drive people outstation. I do it every now and then catering to a handful of regular customers.

On one occasion ... more than a year ago, I got a call from a lady for a trip to the airport. When I picked her at her house, I immediately recognized her and she too recognized me ... I worked with her once on a marketing event some years ago. She was surprised to see me now working freelance providing transport. On the way to the airport we chatted and I found out that she is now a top executive of a well known international cosmetic company ... told me she is going overseas for a conference.

We chatted casually for a long while and then she asked me (I cannot remember the exact words but something to this effect) ... “Shiek, you were a well paid senior manager in a big MNC ... now you are just making a couple of hundred bucks driving and carrying luggage for people ... what happened?”

At first, I thought I detected a note of mockery in the question ... well, maybe not, maybe I am just a bit sensitive ... anyway, told her I simply had enough of the corporate world and one day I just decided to give it all up ... that’s it, nothing happened!

And disbelievingly she said ... REALLY? Now, the tone and manner she replied told me I was right in the first place, she did intend to inject a bit of sarcasm in the question. Not sure why but I guessed in her opinion, one just don’t walk away from a well paid job in the corporate world to do odd jobs ... something must have happened. 

Then the conversation shifted back to her career and she told me how she worked her way up the corporate ladder over the last several years, how busy she is now with the travelling and meetings and the corporate jargons lasted all the way to the airport. On the way back, I thought to myself ... good for her, she is now a high flying corporate hotshot, enjoying a great career ... she is very likely to go far.

After that, I forgot all about this lady ... until recently ... when I saw her again. This time she was in the waiting area of a private hospital. This time, I saw a very different person. When I greeted her, I could hardly hear her voice ... from what I see, she was quite sick. I spoke to her friend who was accompanying her and though we did not say much of what is actually happening to her ... the baldness, the pale face and the skeletal frame suggested the side effects from chemotherapy treatment of a terminal illness. I felt sorry for her and I am sure those who know her felt the same but that is all one can offer.

As I drove away from the hospital ... I recalled the conversation that I had with her (when I was sending her to the airport) ... she was a top executive of a large company, a high flying corporate hotshot who was doing so well, a great career and so much to look forward to ... all that doesn’t matter anymore. Ironically I thought to myself ... what happened?

(Later I was told that she passed away due to cancer)

Too many times I have heard of similar stories ... life throws a hard curve and strike without warning. Almost in all of these situations, it is always too fast, too late. By the time one realizes it ... nothing matters anymore and by then there is no point asking ... "what happened?"

If someone ask me again ... “what happened?” ... let me say this ... what happened to me is my choice ... I chose to leave the fast lane for a simpler life. For the last several years, I chose the way I want to live ... I like it this way. I like to choose “what happened” to my life ... for as long as I can. 


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Generalising all hard working high flying executives busting their guts to be successful will ultimately be hit with cancer is wrong.

The truth is - anyone can be afflicted with cancer. May hit clean living jungle trekking homebody too.

Stone Shiek said...

Thanks for the comments ... I am just telling a story and so happens that this story involved a corporate executive ... I am NOT generalizing that corporate executives will be hit with terminal diseases ... you are right, everyone can get it even a clean living jungle trekking somebody like me will get it too :)

If you understand my point, I said what happened to me is my choice ... at least for now. Sometimes people are just too busy with their lives chasing for more and more. Of course maybe chasing for more and more, competing in the corporate rat race is what they have chosen and is what they want in their lives ... so be it.

All I am saying, I chose to leave the fast lane for a simpler life ... please don't ask me "what happened?" in a mocking tone and manner ... nothing happened ... I want live the way I want ... it is my choice and that is what I want happened to my life.

My point is ... too many people are too busy letting their lives passed by (whether in the corporate world or not) and don't know what happened to their lives until it is too late.

Of course this is strictly my own views ... anyone can disagree :)

I too can be stricken by the unfortunate ... and if that comes, everything too doesn't matter anymore. At least for now I know "what happened" to my life ... and it is my choice :)

Again, thanks for your comments :)