Insight For The Modern Man

Eric Louie
MDI Contributor 

(Editor’s Note – the editor can validate this entire story; he lived with Louie at one point.)

The job listing considered with a “what the hell.”

I had a stretch in life that was particularly difficult in my early 50s.

I was running a business that wasn’t doing well. I was struggling with getting new customers (sales, or for some of you, the dreaded “enrollment”), doing the billing, getting the work done, fixing problems that I created, and learning whatever I needed to keep up with the business. Money was low, just enough and sometimes not quite enough to cover the bills. No financial resources in reserve. I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay the rent, the water bill, the electricity, cigarettes, food. It was getting bad.

And then: my truck gets impounded because I have expired registration and a suspended license. My girlfriend/fiancée is breaking up with me because I wasn’t honest with her. I get into trouble with customers and end up having to do a lot of work for them without pay.

My situation was getting progressively worse. 

Like, so bad that I was evicted from my rental house. Thank God, one of my best friends owned an apartment building. I moved out of the 3-bedroom 1800 square foot house and into the 1-bedroom 600 square foot apartment with a 10’x20’ garage downstairs.

All mine. All alone. I’m so grateful!

And the price was right. The owner started at a reasonable price, about 1/3 of what I was paying before, and said he’d raise it when I get more financially stable. It took me a little over a year to turn it around. During that time, my business got marginally better. I still had those lean times where I had to call and ask for more time to pay the rent, and sometimes I had to pay late fees for the electric bill.

But I kept going, kept plugging away, and started to make it work.

And then, it happened. 

I don’t remember why, or how, but I was going through Craigslist’s “Help Wanted” and found a job that I figured “what the hell; I’ll send in my resume.” Every so often, I’d do that. Well, this time, I sent in the resume, and the next day I got a telephone call for a discussion. And then an interview. And then, I was offered a job for $72k per year!  Holy cow, that’s twice what I was making on my own, and this was guaranteed paycheck money. It was also exciting work that could take me somewhere in my career! So I accepted the job, gratefully, humbly, and started to learn the technology that they were anxious to teach me with all the tricks and tools.  This was a little over eight years ago.

Acceptance letter. A welcomed surprise.

Today I’m a career civil servant that has great tools, technology, work ethic, knowledge, and standards, because I was open-minded and not “stuck” in the thought and belief that “I have to make this business work on my own no matter what.” 

I do have belief in myself. I know I can be successful, and even when I need to come to terms with my failures, which I have suffered lately, in not passing probation during a recent promotion. I know with the support of my men’s circles, I can find within the strength to withstand the bad feelings of doubt and inferiority.

I would choose to leave this company five and 1/2 years later because of a compelling reason. By then I was earning close to $100k/yr and, most importantly, had gained a lot of experience. With it, I was able to get a job as a senior network engineer with the State of California in Sacramento.

That compelling reason to move to Sacramento was to be my dad’s companion.

He was 89 years old, and my younger brother, who had been his companion/housemate, had died in July 2017. It was apparent that dad could and should not take care of himself. He’d lost his driving privilege due to license suspension and dementia. So as a single, successful son, it was time for me to step up and be the son I always wanted to be, the son who “took care” of dad “on his terms.”

This, from the son who really felt that his dad didn’t give him much of anything, but a son who took the Sterling Men’s Weekend in 1995 and discovered something completely different as a result. From the son who was riddled with addiction and alcoholism in his 20’s and was ostracized by his dad. From the son who pretty much had no relationship with his father other than to ask “how are you?” and not expect much of an answer.

Even though I intended to write a story about a financial and professional comeback, the real comeback in this story is the comeback of a son who became successful in the good graces of his father.

Louie, on the right … and left.