“Life is queer with its twists and turns as every one of us sometimes learns.” A once known author penned that, but now we have no idea who it is, but he or she knows us so well. The author knows our propensity to throw in the towel when things get rough, stop fighting when we get punched in the jaw and fold under pressure when we are running low on funds. That author knows me because that author knows human nature. I wonder if the author knew I would be sitting in my car a few days before graduation crying because I didn’t have any job prospects and was facing a very real possibility of moving back to Saginaw (my worst fear from 2005 – 2015).
I was outside the Student Activity Center in my red Grand Prix at Central Michigan University. I just left my full-time unpaid internship for the day, which was all I had to do everyday because I completed all of my collegiate coursework in the summer. My phone rang and on the other end was a company that I had recently completed a round of interviews with. Using my best code-switch voice, I answered the phone, “Sheldon speaking”. “Hi, Sheldon! Unfortunately, we chose to go with another candidate.” “Thanks for the opportunity!” – to waste my time.
It was raining that day and J Cole’s Before I’m Gone was playing. Cole’s ability to paint 360 views of his life is amazing and it makes him relatable, and most importantly that skill allows him to go platinum without any features; thought I would add that in like any true J Cole fan. “It’s raining outside boy, f an umbrella”. As I write this I have the song on repeat, I need to feel how upset, mad and confused I was at that time. It’s funny how music can bring back old emotions. I’m there and one tear falls, next tear falls, waterfalls. I could no longer tell if it was raining outside or inside, but I knew I had to make something happen. Let me tell you this, when I cry I make the world shake. No tears are wasted and I promise none are forgotten, not one drop. I decided the next day that I was moving to Phoenix. I called my mom and aunt and a few hours later it was settled, and a couple months later we were driving to Phoenix.
Two days after I moved to Arizona, I had an interview with Enterprise. A week after the interview with Enterprise, I was offered a position somewhere in the $42000 – 45000 a year range, with opportunity for advancement. Two days after I was offered said position, I turned it down to continue working for Target for $8.50 an hour. Crazy right, but I failed to mentioned that I was also offered a job for $14.50 an hour working for a fruit warehouse in Michigan, which I also turned down to continue working for Target for $8.50 an hour, all the while explaining to my mother how I don’t think the positions were right for me. Keep in mind, the nation was still recessed and jobs were hard to come by and I’m turning down 40k salary jobs because I’m listening to the spirit man inside of me saying, wait. What exactly am I waiting on spirit man, was my question. I was dead broke. I mean breaking down crying (again) in church, dropping a few crumpled bills in the offering bucket, I need something to happen right now, BROKE. Then something happened: interview, after interview, after interview. Then something else happened: rejection, after rejection, after rejection then FINALLY…
“It is with great honor that I humbly accept GlobalTranz’s offer of employment. Attached are the requested files. Once again, thank you for this amazing opportunity.
Sheldon L. Brummell”
A job, a pretty good offer too, but there was still Target. I invested so much time, and I felt I could use this as leverage to get where I wanted to be with Target, and then the unexpected happened. My plan worked, Target offered me a Team Lead position and a $3 an hour raise, and after a “year or two” they would re-evaluate. I respectfully declined, and turned in my 2 weeks’ notice 2 weeks early. One month, and I was out to work for my new company, but then something even better happened…
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview with Con-way Freight on Friday, May 13, 2011. When I left this initial interview I was truly excited for this great opportunity that could positively impact my life in the near future.
The insight you gave me about “Field Management Trainee” position was very informative, and it further fueled my fire about possibly joining the Con-way Team. I consider myself a man of high character who is not afraid to get his hands dirty. I am highly analytical, and I work with a passion that is fueled by my own desire to succeed…
Sheldon L. Brummell
Did you pay attention to when I said I am not afraid to get my hands dirty? Getting dirty is important. I didn’t realize at that time the dirt wouldn’t just be on my hands, but my whole life. I came home every night spitting up dirt, blowing out dirt, sore back, cracked feet and best of all permanently stained fingernails. Working there was awesome and I am not being sarcastic. I was loving what I was doing. Two of my weeks in training were spent in Ann Arbor, MI where I had to sit in a classroom and listen to some people at corporate talk to me about leadership, human resources, computer systems and stuff like that. Flying to Michigan was my first time traveling for business, so I thought that was pretty cool and it was nice to be home for free, but other than that the week was pretty uneventful. I sat in the back of the class and throughout the sessions I thought, I can teach this class, and another part of me – the shy part of me – said no you cannot. I agreed and flew back to Michigan and eventually I got placed in Denver, which was an entire experience in itself. I’ll share those stories again soon. However, I want to fast forward three years to the beginning of 2015.
I had just interviewed for a position in the Learning & Development Department of my organization and I was impatiently waiting for a reply. The response took a while, maybe a week and a half. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the department wasn’t right across the hall and I didn’t have to see the people making the decision everyday. I thought to myself, how could they not choose me, I have the operations experience, all that dirt I’ve spit up over the years. How could they not choose me, I’ve been back in Michigan for less than a year and have excelled in the Linehaul Department? What else could they be looking for? Then finally, I got the phone call and I promise before the phone rang I felt this surge of energy go through my body. I’ll talk about what I think that was later, as well. The voice on the other end of the line said it was a unanimous decision, we want you on our team. I hung up the phone in pure excitement. It must have been the poems I recited in the interview “If’ and “Don’t Quit”, Yes, I gave them my probate show. My plan worked, didn’t it?
So, now here we are. Almost two years later, I’ve been zigging and zagging across the country training and learning – learning and training. My primary job responsibility is to help others accomplish their goals. I love being a conduit of success. How did I get here? My manager told me it was the experience I had. We didn’t want the traditional college-educated candidate, we wanted the person who lived what they would have to be teaching, and you were both – and we love your personality. Relatability is important.
So, what he was saying is if I didn’t go through that process I wouldn’t have been offered this job. I wouldn’t be standing in front of these classes I was once sitting in the back of. My present wouldn’t have happened if the voice on the phone in the rainy car way back in 2010 would have said, “we would like to offer you the position of way too much work for not enough money.” The process was a non-negotiable. My favorite unknown author finished the poem mentioned earlier, “it’s when things seem the worst you must not quit.” It all came full circle.