By Richard Mabey Jr.
In 1983, I began working at AT&T in the Waterview Plaza Building, located near Route 287 in Parsippany. When I would step outside of my cubicle, I could see a most beautiful, panoramic view of the Jersey City Reservoir. I worked in the Billing Department. It was very meticulous work, I would spend long hours sitting in front of a computer screen, entering billing data.
It’s funny the things that you remember. There was a fellow Lou, who worked in the cubicle next to mine. He was a few years older than me. I was just 29 years old back in the Spring of 1983. It seemed as though Lou took a bath in cologne in every morning. I have yet to meet an individual that had the overpowering scent of cologne or perfume on them as Lou did. I remember that just before entering Lou’s cubicle, I would take a deep breath, fill my lungs with air that wasn’t filled with the vapors of cologne and then I would try not to breathe too deeply in the short time that I was in Lou’s cubicle.
I remember that there was a Roy Rogers roast beef restaurant, on Route 46, just a stone’s throw from the Waterview Plaza Building. It was where Route 46 met Route 202. I think that it’s a Wendy’s now. Well, Lou and I would go to lunch there, every Friday, rain or shine. Lou was an eternal, dogmatic, staunch realist. Lou was a most practical man. There was no room for idealistic thinking in Lou’s universe.
I remember one time, sitting at the Roy Rogers restaurant with Lou, chopping down a roast beef sandwich, and sharing my dream to work as a writer in the Public Relations Department. Lou would frown, take a sip of his soda, eat one of his French fries, then say to me, “forget it kid! You’ll be entering numbers down on that old computer screen for the rest of your life. Ya’ gotta face facts kid, ya’ gotta accept your fate. I know I have. I tell my wife all the time, I’m never gonna get ahead in life. Just accept your fate, kid!”
Lou was only about five years older than me, but he took on this older brother rapport with me, that he felt gave him license to call him “kid” as if it were my name. I never really liked it all that much, but it was all part of Lou’s big brother rapport with me.
For one year of my life, I endured the drudgery of plugging numbers into little boxes on my computer screen. Five minutes would seem like an hour. I remember how much I dreaded Monday mornings. But, as Lou would often tell me, “hey, at least ya’ got a job, kid! That’s how I look at it.” It was the world according to Lou. Lou was the ultimate realist.
Then something happened that changed my life. In the Spring of 1984, I came down with a sore throat that led to strep throat, that unfortunately led to Rheumatic Fever. It was my second bout with the dreadful disease. My doctor got the results of the lab work for my sedimentation rate, and had me go to the hospital right away. I knew the drill all so well, back from when I was but 12 years old. It meant 24 hours of intravenous penicillin.
For one year of my life, I was in and out of the hospital. And, for one year of my life, my feet never touched the ground. Something very special happened in that year. I read Claude Bristol’s book, “The Magic of Believing” three or four times. I read the Holy Bible, cover to cover. And, I read Napoleon Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich” a couple of times. Lou’s philosophy of “accept your fate, kid” was rapidly fading from the fibers of my heart and evaporating from my consciousness.
About three or four times a day, I would close my eyes and for a good half-hour, I would repeat to myself, “I’m going to work in Public Relations. I’m going to work as a writer in Public Relations.” Then, after saying my prayers at night, I would close my eyes and as I fell asleep, I would keep saying the same thing to myself that no matter what, I was going to work as a writer in the Public Relations Department.
In that year, I wrote and submitted well over a hundred articles to local newspapers. A lot of them reflected and focused on the hidden potential that lies dormant in each and every living soul. I also wrote articles about social events in my church, from spaghetti dinners to rummage sales. None of which I attended, but based my articles on reflections that my minister shared with me, when he would visit me in the hospital or at home. And, the same was true with dozens of articles that I wrote and were published in local newspapers, about the events of Boy Scout Troop 170. These were based upon the stories that my dad, who was the Scoutmaster of Troop 170 at the time, shared with me.
Here’s the amazing thing. A modern miracle, if you will. After one full year of battling Rheumatic Fever, my doctor gave me the okay to literally put my feet back on the ground. I typed up my resume and made an appointment to see a Personnel Agent in Parsippany. As if the odds were a million to one, this lady lived in Lincoln Park. Her son had been in Boy Scout Troop 170. And, she had read mostly every one of the articles that I had recently written, in the past year, that were published in local newspapers.
I shall never forget the words of that kind lady, as she looked at my resume and told me that her son was in Troop 170 and that she enjoyed reading my articles. “I think you might be a fit for a Public Relations Department. There’s an opening in the P. R. Department at AT&T in Morristown. Do you mind the commute?” I remember telling her that I didn’t mind the commute at all.
This kind lady faxed my resume with some of my writing samples to the Personnel Department at the AT&T office in Morristown. I got an appointment for an interview. My Guardian Angel blessed me with a miracle. I did get the job! I was destined to work in the Public Relations Department of AT&T, for well over a decade.
Yes, you will meet plenty of people like Lou in your journey in life. Yes, you will have moments where you’ll have doubts about your talents and skills. But, first and foremost, you absolutely must believe that you are capable of accomplishing great things in life. That you have real talent. That you can climb any mountain, not halfway up, but all the way to the tippy-top and wave your own flag of success. You must believe it’s possible.
Read every book you can find on positive thinking. Read books of spiritual insight, read and reread the books of your faith or the religion that you follow. Constantly tell yourself that doors are opening for you, doors leading to greater success in your life. And never, never, never give up! Never ever give up!!!!!!!
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put on the subject line: “Never Give Up.”