I started a brand new job this week and so far, so good!
But honestly, the prospect of facing a new career after spending the past 20 years in the same job was a bit scary. Of course, with all those years of experience and skill under my belt, you might expect that I’d walk into this new company with unfaltering confidence, right?
But life experience has taught me that starting something new, even something for which you are highly qualified, often reminds you not that you know a thing or two, but that you have a thing or two to learn!
Years ago, I learned this lesson in a stand-off with an unlikely opponent. I had over one hundred and fifty pounds on this opponent and I was well protected in a tyvek suit, yet my opponent nearly bested me. I sure had a thing or two to learn.
When the tanker ship Athos1 experienced a breech in its hull in the Delaware River near my home, at least 30,000 gallons of heavy crude oil leaked directly into the water, killing fish and oiling birds and other wildlife. A call for volunteers went out. And since I am an animal lover, an environmentalist, and have a host of other professional skills to share, I was moved to help.
The Tri-State Bird Rescue set up a temporary facility near the spill and were charged with saving as many birds and other animals as possible from the oil’s harm. I expected to be their most stellar volunteer.
The majority of the animals affected by the spill were Canadian geese. It turns out that to subdue a goose during the short trip from the oil-soaked river to our make-shift hospital/oil washing station, it helped to place the goose in a closed cardboard box, with air holes, of course.
Furthermore, if you could remove a goose from that cardboard box quickly, and then quickly tucked the goose under your arm, restricting his wings, he would remain subdued and would submit to washing and medical evaluation fairly easily. (Notice that the key word here is quickly.)
The kindly veterinarian demonstrated the technique to me a few times. To my amazement, it really worked.
I was smart. I was capable. Easy peasy, right?
Fast Forward to ten minutes later and the thing or two I learned…….
- Quickly really means quickly. My nervous hands took a bit too long opening the box and the first goose decided that this whole subdued thing was overrated. He gave up on subdued and calm and chose alert instead.
- There is a fine line between alert and agitated. The perked up goose didn’t take to my clumsy attempts to pin his wings or tuck him under my arm. Within seconds, he hated me (and he didn’t even know me!) It may have been my imagination, but I swear I could see disdain in his eyes and feel anger in his muscular body.
- Flapping wings are a lot like flailing arms; guard your face. A wing to the face is no joke.
- A goose on the ground is harder to get a grip on than a goose in a box. Short bird legs did not mean that he could not outrun me! He could and he did!
- Chasing a goose is futile and foolish. You cannot win, so do NOT chase an unhappy goose.
- Geese bite! I will show you the scars.
Fast Forward to ten minutes later ……..
The kindly vet had no problem catching and arm tucking that goose. As he was carried to the medical evaluation room, the newly calmed goose turned his long goose neck, looking me straight in the eye. In my memory, he was actually shaking his head.
Clearly, he wanted me to know that I had a thing or two to learn.
Fortunately, the first week at my new job didn’t involve chasing wildlife or getting the evil eye from anyone, human or animal. But I expected challenges in this new job and I know I will get them, maybe sooner or maybe later. Of course, change and challenges can still be a bit scary. But growing through change and learning a thing or two is really what makes life so exciting!
For the record, I did eventually learn to handle the geese, although I worry that the stress may have shortened my lifespan by a few years.
But my brief stint with TriState Bird Rescue did teach me that I am gritty and tough and that I can learn many skills, even ones that seem overwhelming or daunting.
So I will continue with week two at my new job, ready for whatever they throw at me! (as long as what they throw at me doesn’t bite! )
To learn more about TriState Bird Rescue and the essential work that they do, please visit the link below.
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