Operators Are Standing By

Operators are standing by. Two phone numbers. No waiting, at least right now. I have a lot of lines in the water and I’m waiting for action on many of them. Jobs, projects, clients, students, real estate agents, patrons, are all possible reasons behind the next ring of the phone. I’m even waiting for a call from the power company for a free fridge. Let me check – nope, the phone isn’t ringing as I type. Waiting isn’t easy. Anticipation can make a person eager, but my current financial situation makes me anxious. But I also know that one, two, or three of the right phone calls (or emails) could make life much better financially and reduce an immense amount of stress. So I wait.

I suspect everyone in similar situations thinks that they too have waited long enough. Waiting is almost always necessary. Except for precipitous events like the lottery, everything takes time. Job applications must be reviewed, then followed by interviews, then followed by internal and external discussions, and finally arriving at an offer that leads to the first day of work. Then there’s the wait for the first paycheck. When I started at Boeing I had to wait so long that I ran out of money and ate old cinnamon rolls that I stretched out over meals for weeks. It probably wouldn’t have worked except for the massive dose of preservatives that were in store-bought pastries in 1980.

Friends point out that I’ve never really retired despite having reached that goal in 1998. I’ve been working at my business and art ever since, waiting for that success to arrive, first as a backup to my retirement plan, second as the primary way of life since my portfolio succumbed to my Triple Whammy. It has been a very active version of waiting that now means working almost every day (My Rule Of 7).

I haven’t followed the political debates or the conventions, except what I see on Google News, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Much of the debate isn’t really debate. Much of the discussion is merely declaration. Almost all of it describes initiatives that will take years to create an effect in individuals’ lives. My money is running out now. My bills are due now. My health insurance goes up this month. (From last year to this year I am about 2% older but my insurance just went up 10%. I don’t even use it because the deductible is too high.) Waiting for the government’s good news is not an option.

My personal good news is that I have been working all these years. I’ve built a business that provides a lot of opportunities and potential revenue streams. Someone asked me if I built that. It took me a while to realize he was keying off a political commentary. The only person that can take sole credit for building their entire life is someone that was miraculously born without parents and raised themself from whatever they found in the forest or field. Even Romulus and Remus needed help from a wolf.

The waiting is tied to those things that are out of my control. Jobs wait on people who are hiring. Projects wait on collaborators (though I do have a few action items there). Clients call at their convenience, which is appropriate because the focus is on their life and projects. Students can call to register, but really all I can do is wait and welcome them when they show up for the classes (Social Media For Artists – September 15th). Real estate agents will call when they have a buyer. (Home For Sale Alas) Patrons can call to buy my art whenever they are comfortable (but come on by to the premiere of Twelve Months At Double Bluff this Friday at Raven Rocks Gallery).  Maybe I could be more aggressive, but I’m not a hard seller. Every time the phone rings I guess which one it will be. The political pollsters get a short, but polite, response. Friends are definitely welcomed. Life is more important than business, but those pesky bills do swing that balance.

The maddening calls are the ones when I answer and there’s nobody there. Someone from an 877 area code has been calling almost every day, but they don’t respond when I answer the phone. I hope it isn’t the free fridge people. (The local power company replaces fridges for free if the fridge is over 25 years old. I’m waiting for them to call and schedule the delivery.)

As an optimist I know that every moment holds the possibility of the turn to a better life. Even as an investor I know that any moment a press release could be released that announced magnificent news that skyrockets a stock, especially for small companies where I invest. (Come on MVIS. Come on DNDN.) Optimism is one way to hold a head high. One day I had a sore neck and a wise health care provider pointed out it was probably because I’ve been holding my head up for so long through force of will that my neck muscles are tired. I can believe that. But if I don’t keep my head up I may not see opportunity stroll by.

Earlier this week I posted “Operators Are Standing By” as my facebook status. It was an interesting exercise to read the responses. One person even included a reference to my eBay poster sale (Pixar’s Little Green Men). I posted it as an invitation to a friend to call, but it inspired others’ responses and my introspections.

Operators Are Standing By made me realize how much we rely on each other, how much we are intertwined, the ways we move forward by working with each other, and how much time is spent waiting. A business or an organization doesn’t exist without people as advocates, employees, recipients, or customers. Operators Are Standing By is another way of saying communications are welcome. Living isn’t a solo event. A business or community won’t survive if it only includes one person. Goods need to be bought by someone. Services need to be performed for someone. Even buying and selling stocks involves other people selling and buying stocks, even if they are invisible behind the internet.

It’s a gorgeous September mid-morning. Maybe a call will come in, but I can’t put my life on hold while I wait for the ring. I’ve missed my exercises amidst the chaos of the last few days. I think I’ll go for a run to re-invigorate myself before I launch into a few things that need to be done. There are people waiting for me to call them with information and results. Oh, and if you call while I’m out, leave a message. An operator is standing by, thanks to technology.

PS Another wise friend pointed out that I should focus each post on one business venture. That sounds like a good idea; especially, now that I’ve passed along this insight. Let’s see, I have at least 16 projects. Posting two a week means eight weeks of posts just to describe what I’m working on. Where to begin?

About Tom Trimbath

real estate broker / consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: https://trimbathcreative.net/about/ and at my amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0035XVXAA
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6 Responses to Operators Are Standing By

  1. And of course, the phone rang as soon as I posted this. Nice to hear from a friend, who wanted to know if I got “the call”.

  2. Alan Beckley says:


    I always enjoy your blogs. Very helpful in these tumultuous economic times that many of us find ourselves in. I really appreciate your positive outlook and logical way of framing things to balance and keep fear at bay (as much as possible). Keep up the good work!

  3. Susan Averett says:

    Awesome photo of Double Bluff!! 🙂

    Sue Averett, MA, MSW http://www.whidbeymagic.com http://www.whidbeyislandreiki.com http://www.rebootcenter.com

  4. I’m thinking you should begin at the beginning…or at least think about what is the most important thing to you that would be the last of that you do to let go of. And start there. Reminds me of the little kid picking up cool stones as he walked along the shore. When he got back to the stairs leading up to the top of the clift overhanging the shore he asked his father to carry his stones up to the top.

    Dad, being too clever to take on this job, told him that he could keep all he had gathered but had to get them up the cliff himself. Our entrepid gatherer valiently started up the stairs. After a few stairs he stopped, took the stones out of his pockets, looked them over, and threw a couple down into the waves and then returned the rest to his pockets.

    He repeated this several times along the climb until upon reaching the top he found he had only two stones left…but they were spectacular beauties.

  5. If each of the pebbles (projects) added up to more of my bills, I’d happily set some aside. But these aren’t pebbles. They are seeds. Which ones will sprout? How many must survive and thrive? If I knew now what I’ll know then, I could choose; but who can predict the future? Until then I guess I tend them all, and check my lottery tickets.

  6. “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” – Franz Kafka

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