Peter Gets (and gives) Good Advice about Making Decisions….

I had crossed my own personal Rubicon in early November 2012. We had accepted an offer to sell our house, with a closing date of mid December. I went to sleep that evening feeling giddy. The long nightmare of my toxic marriage was coming to an end. I could finally breathe again.

During my normal morning call to Lois the next day, I mentioned only that the house had been sold. About an hour later, I suddenly felt panic and anxiety seize me. I had just over a month to find a place! I do not drive, nor do I have a vehicle. What would I do with Reg? How could I get my goods and chattels moved?  Where could I store them safely? Where would I move to? I decided to look at relocating to Toronto, and got a newspaper so that I could look at the apartment ads. I telephoned two of these, and set up an appointment to see one on the next day, which was a Saturday.

I traveled from Brampton all the way to the Warden subway station. The “apartment” was in a house about a fifteen minute walk past the subway station. It was shown to me by a young man in his early 20s. As I was very interested in the “apartment”, he said that he’d call me later that day. So I trekked back across the city on the subway and thus home to Brampton. He called me at about 7 that evening and said that his older brothers had told him that he could not rent the apartment. I was stunned, but thanked him for wasting 5 hours out of my Saturday. He told me that I was welcome! Sarcasm unappreciated is sarcasm wasted 😉. There was, however, the other apartment, and so I arranged to see it. It was a small apartment, in a building a fair bus ride from the subway, which featured the ominous sign “No open alcohol in the hall” posted on the wall. Filling out an application, I answered the question “How long at your present job?” by writing “36 years, 11 months”. I had talked to two supervisors who knew both me and my work ethic well, and they had consented to act as references for me. My confidence was high. The superintendent said he’d give the completed form to the owner. He called the next day and told me to come in the following day, which I accordingly took as annual leave.

I called on the day in question, and he was pleasant enough, told me to come on in and to call him when I got off the bus. However, when I placed THAT call, his demeanour had completely changed over the previous hour and a half. He said that the landlord had called one of my references, got the person’s voicemail and heard “…a foreign language…” As a result, she had instructed him that I was not to be allowed to rent the apartment. I tried, without success, to explain that as a federal government employee, one’s voicemail message had to be bilingual English/French or it was in violation of the Official Languages Act. He would have no part of it.

My mind was a mishmash of conflicting emotions as I retreated to Brampton in disarray. I felt angry, hurt, frustrated, anxious and so much more.

Upon my arrival at home, I played with Reg for a bit, then started to analyze what had gone wrong. 5 precious days had been wasted by me! I realized then that I had to (figuratively) take a step back and rework this problem. Looking at the situation objectively, my “active” feelings, such as anxiety, panic and yes, even exhilaration, had clouded my judgement. I was so eager/worried to get out of the situation I was in that I was in real danger of “leaping before I looked”. Best thing to do would be to go back to the beginning and start the process anew. As I would be moving to Toronto, I decided to call Lois. Because I was anxious, I got her voicemail (naturally), but she did call me back about an hour later. I explained my situation in some detail, mentioning the impending closing date.

Without even being asked, she said straightaway that I could stay with her until I found a place. I mentioned my three other overriding concerns, which she again addressed unhesitatingly. She said that she would help me to rent a truck, and that she could get her friend Pat to drive it. (Pat was a retired cabbie, and a very good driver.) She was sure that we could find a truck rental place that also rented storage space. Finally, I could always board Reg. It all boiled down to a question of doing some research and  making a few calls, using my personal strengths, as I have always been good at researching and organizing things. As she rang off,  I felt an enormous weight leaving my shoulders. I had been so close to the issues that these common sense answers and actions had eluded my grasp.

One ten minute telephone call had turned my life 180 degrees. She had replaced my despair with hope, my anxiety with self confidence. She had given me that most precious of all commodities, time. Her selfless actions were and are completely indicative of her generous and kindly nature, as an aside.

A few telephone calls gave me all the information I needed to make informed decisions about truck rental, storage facility rental and boarding His Majestic Indifference Reginald the Aloof, and just as importantly, helped restore my self-confidence. Lois and her co worker Bruna even helped look out for apartments. As a result, I was able to find my current apartment, and I have been here 5 years this month.

“So Peter, what’s the point of today’s column?” I hear you ask. There are a few “takeaways”. First, it’s never smart to make an important decision when you’re under stress. Second, while there is bad stress and there is good stress, they are both stresses and will affect your judgement. Third, “step back” and view the situation objectively. Fourth, we all need a good “wingpeople”. Fifth, have faith in yourself and know that you have the inner strength and abilities to make important decisions of consequence for your life. Sixth, there really are “blessings in disguise”. Finally, there’s absolutely no shame in asking a friend for advice/assistance. No one should have to go tough times alone, although sadly, some do.

Peter and Lois – Teamwork

See you soon

Sackcloth and ashes department- Apologies about last week’s column. I meant to place my corrective comment about my starting salary with the government after “See you soon”. That’s right, I’m apologizing about an apology.


4 Responses to “Peter Gets (and gives) Good Advice about Making Decisions….”

  1. Teresa Coulter Says:

    Loved this column Peter. You are so right about not making decisions under stress. But you have an uncanny way of making your point crystal clear as well as keeping the reader engaged to the very end! As you know I have been reading your blogs since the beginning and in my opinion as well as others I have talked to, you are an excellent writer! You parents are smiling down with pride!

  2. Very enjoyable read, thanks for sharing Peter. I’m looking forward to the next one.

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