Howdy Do It 17 – Ellie Snow

Howdy Do It came from “how do you do It,” the question Ellie & Margot found themselves asking about their freelance lifestyles, and so Howdy Do It was born, a weekly column about the things we do to keep ourselves organized, inspired and on track. Ellie will be here each Monday, and Margot will be over on Mint at the same time.

If you have any questions for Margot or Ellie, you can ask them on formspring.
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Last week I walked into the mail shop near my house to ship some orders. It’s a small, family owned business, and I much prefer it to the Post Office. There are rarely any lines and when I walk in the door, they say, “Hey Ellie!” My favorite mail shop guy was the only one working, and since I was the only one in the shop, I thought I’d ask the owner how he got into the business. Cause if you think about it, owning a mail shop is sort of… different. I mean, you don’t grow up wanting to deal with packages, right?

Turns out the owner of this little mail shop is an industrial engineer, who was laid off about 6 or 7 years ago. He bought the business because it was for sale, and he needed work. Although he had applied and been accepted to great jobs all over the country, he decided that the most important thing to him was not a good salary, or a prestigious job. He had a couple of teenagers in the house, and he knew that moving them across the country for one of these great jobs would be devastating to them. He decided his family was way more important than any job.

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And so for the past 6 years, he’s been running this mail shop. He makes just enough for his family to live on, and never has to work more than 30-40 hours, which means he gets to spend a lot of time with his wife and kids. Since he knew I had recently been laid off (and may or may not be able to read minds), he wanted me to understand that work is just work. At the end of the day, it’s really not all that important. His exact words were, “This stuff is just crap, I mean, excuse me, but work is just… it’s just crap. You can’t worry about it.” He wasn’t saying it in a disgruntled way, but more like it just doesn’t matter, not the way other things matter. He said, “you know Ellie, you’ve just got to figure out how to be happy, because happiness, and your family… that’s really all that matters.”

You know how you can hear something from the people you love, and know it, but not know it? And then, you hear it from a stranger, and it’s like… OH. I spent the last week thinking about what the mail man said, and wondering why I worry so much about my job. Of course, it’s important to care about your work, but how much stress and worry is really necessary?

images by Lars Tunbjörks via johanna wallin

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