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New job means new attitude, new possibilities and (maybe) new purchases

By June Mathews

I love working at home. In terms of a job, there’s nothing finer than keeping my own hours and wearing sweatpants to the office. And as for the commute, you can’t beat it. The walk from the bedroom to my desk takes less than a minute. Even if I detour to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, I’m at work in record time, and no matter when I get there, I’m considered punctual. I am, after all, the boss.

But there is one thing I don’t love about working at home. For all my introvert tendencies (more than most people realize) being on my own for hours on end sometimes gets to be too much of a good thing, and I begin missing the social aspects of working in the outside world.

It was during one of those lonely spells a few weeks ago that I began casting about for a part-time job, something to get me out of the house on occasion and as a bonus, add a steady component to my freelance income. Browsing around on some of the local online employment sites, I ran across a listing for which I was perfectly qualified, and long story short, I applied, interviewed and got the job.

Now three days a week, I’m navigating rush hour traffic to get to and from the downtown Birmingham law firm where I serve as an administrative coordinator. And while I’m still feeling my way along, trying to get a grasp of what all the title entails (and since it’s a newly created position, my employer is trying to get that same grasp), I’m perfectly happy to be out and about for part of the week, making new friends and letting somebody else take care of the details of being in business for a change.

But in contrast to how a younger me viewed the downtown workaday world, I’ve learned a few lessons over the years that are helping me approach this job with a bit more wisdom, maturity and maybe even a little less stress.

First of all, I’ve realized I don’t have to be the lead car in the morning rat race. The world isn’t going to end if I’m a minute or two late, so I might as well slow down. I’ll just stay a minute or two late to make up for it.

Secondly, expensive work clothes with perfectly matching accessories don’t matter like they used to. Seriously, as long as an outfit is neat, clean and office-appropriate, who cares if I’m carrying a purse that matches my shoes? I don’t.

Thirdly, work matters, but only for the time I’m at the firm. Toting a briefcase to and from the office used to make me feel important, like a busy professional whose job required that I work more than just regular office hours. Now that my old briefcase is buried under a pile of coats and Christmas decorations in the hallway closet, I feel just as important.

Fourth, my definition of “professional” has changed. It’s not a particular job or position; it’s an attitude. And nowadays I think it’s awfully professional to give it all I’ve got from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the law firm three days a week and whatever freelance hours I work at home the other two days of the work week. The rest of the time, I’d rather relax and be not-so-professional.

Lastly, while I’m thrilled with the pay increase I’ve recently gained, I’m more motivated by a job I love than by money. I fully expect – once I figure out all I’m responsible for – to love my new job. If I’m wrong about that, I can always return to full-time freelancing and the poverty that often ensues.

But if I’m right, I’m going to order that new living room rug I’ve been wanting and maybe a new refrigerator and matching dishwasher, not to mention that new bedroom suite I’ve been dreaming of for years…

Gee, I sure hope I love my new job.

Email June Mathews at

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