day 84: at the crossroads.

crossroads1I found myself at a bit of a crossroads this week. Nothing as dramatic as Ralph Macchio chasing the ghost of Robert Johnson, mind you, but a place where I seem to find myself every so often: deciding what professional path to take. Sure, it’s likely this is how my midlife crisis manifests itself, so I try to take it in stride; especially when you consider how difficult it was for me to resume my communications career, which I did a few months ago.

For so many reasons, I have been enjoying my current job because I’m working in a place where success is not measured by profits or stock prices or sales. Rather, success is measured by lives changed. By families reunited. By children being saved from abusive and dangerous situations. I’m also surrounded by a group of talented people who understand and value the team dynamic (unlike the territorial and manipulative rogue elements I endured during my two years at Behemoth Insurance).

Some days are tougher than others, as you might expect. More times than I care to count, I find myself getting emotional about some of the stories I encounter. It does take a little bit out of you. But then I remember: we didn’t create these situations. We are saving these children from these situations. That makes the stress and emotion worth it. I love my job and love what I’m working toward everyday when I go to my downtown Las Vegas office. But that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes get wistful for my days as Mr. Saturday Night, aka a casino dice dealer.

I have a little more than three years of experience in gaming as both a dealer and supervisor in the Midwest (mostly) and a few months out here at one of the finest resorts you’ll ever see. There are days when I miss the action, the banter and the fun. But I’m “retired” from dealing, I tell myself and others. I usually follow it by saying “it’s a young man’s game now,” meaning: to get back into it now would require being a break-in dealer all over again. You start at the bottom and have to work your way up to a full-time position. That’s not a bad thing when you’re 24 or 25 years old. But I’m well past that stage of my life.

And every time I even remotely consider the notion of getting back on a gaming floor, I hear the voices of two people and what they said to me a few months ago. Those two people are my best friend and my better half. The latter, she’s always supportive and understanding of me, but she feels it would be a shame if I weren’t writing for a living; that I would be depriving myself and others of my talents. It’s very flattering and a bit humbling when someone regards your writing to be something. I get her point.

My best friend was a little less diplomatic about it, but echoed similar sentiments. “Don’t go back out there to just be a dealer,” he told me. “There’s nothing wrong with being a dealer, but you have more talent than that. You have more to offer than that.”

Whenever I think about dealing, those are two of the voices that bring me back to reality. I don’t very often wave my own flag about my day job, but I do love what I do for a living. And I do enjoy getting paid to write; especially when the people who pay me like my work. Being a communications professional is the right place for me. Dealing? Well, I’m very good at that, too and certainly enjoyed it. But I think it’s best to regard those days of my professional life to be a tremendous learning experience and leave it at that.

Maybe one of these days I’ll actually bang out that screenplay I’ve been working on for the past few years. Maybe I should write one about my days on the gaming floor. That could be fun.

At any rate, the people closest to me talked a lot of sense into me. It’s best for me to remain a retired dealer and stick to my day job. Working in a casino was a lot of fun and put me in contact with many smart and talented individuals, from whom I learned a great deal. But it’s time to let it go. Besides, I enjoy having my nights and weekends off too much. You can’t be a casino dice dealer and have those luxuries.

So, on Monday or Tuesday, I found myself at a crossroads. By Sunday night, I was already well down the path I chose.

And I’m not looking back.

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