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The Fallout Before the Fall- Part 3~ Lessons in Humanity and Loss

Updated: Apr 26

In August 2021, I found myself without a job and still in the process of rebuilding my house. Despite these setbacks, I was struck with a newfound sense of Wanderlust after my trip to Honduras in May. With the world seemingly re-opening after the pandemic, I felt compelled to take advantage of this opportunity to travel before any potential shutdowns could occur again.

I had already taken a few shorter trips earlier in the summer, including a visit to Las Vegas for a playoff hockey game and a train ride through Denali from Fairbanks to Anchorage in Alaska. But I knew I wanted to embark on a bigger adventure, even if I wasn't sure where, when, or how it would happen. Ultimately, I followed my passion for travel and let the rest unfold naturally.

Ace is The Place

Everywhere in Boise had hiring signs, and I felt like I needed something part-time to keep me grounded. I knew I wanted to do something totally different from mental health and learn some practical life skills. I saw Ace Hardware was hiring so I applied and got hired on the spot. I had some experience in retail but knew nothing about tools or lumber. I loved the hometown vibe of the store and the smells reminded me of my childhood growing up in Pittsburgh.

At Ace, I learned how to cut keys, mix paint and drive a forklift. The work was hard and the pay was shit, but I fell in love with my coworkers and the regular customers. Even though Ace is a franchise, it sets itself apart from the big box stores by being small with a focus on customer service and a sense of community.

I was the 2nd to the youngest employee at age 48 and my assistant manager was a lovely, badass 21-year-old gal. Most customers were elderly and just wanted to chat. It filled my cup to help people find the exact 15-cent screw they were looking for that maybe fell out of some random table or appliance they had been using for 40 years.

Career Reset

Working at Ace restored my faith in humanity, and I could make someone's day with such a simple act as listening and giving a smile. I witnessed so much kindness in that store... from one of my coworkers paying the bill for a 94-year-old veteran who had forgotten his wallet, to helping an older lady who was incontinent and had an accident in the lumber aisle. It was at times physically demanding, trying to keep the shelves stocked according to the latest covid news, and as touching as it was to work there, I knew it was not a long-term career move for me.

More Loss

As the days got shorter, I began to dread the upcoming winter months. The Delta variant was causing havoc in the US and there was an underlying collective fear of what would be next.

September brought more heartbreak for me. My beloved 14-year-old Yorkie, Yoda, started having seizures and passed away suddenly. I knew he was getting up there in years, but he was still super spry and my baby.

I also had an 18-year-old cat named Gospel, who destroyed my couches with her claws, and was constantly knocking things off the kitchen counter that she thought she owned and was the diva of the house.

Somehow Yoda and Gospel had fallen in love over the years and were a constant yet unlikely cuddle-puddle couple. When Yoda died, Gospel stopped eating and shrank down to fur and bones in a few days. I seriously thought this cat would outlive all of us. One week after I put Yoda down, I was back at the emergency vet saying goodbye to the cat.

I am crying as I type these words. It still seems almost unbelievable that they are both gone. As heartbreaking as it was and still is to lose my fur babies, they gave me the ultimate gift. I was able to hold them as the light went out of their precious eyes, crossing the rainbow bridge. If either one of them was still living, there is absolutely no way I would have decided to leave my life in Idaho and come to live in Thailand for 4 months.

Their passing also reinforced this notion that life is short and new chapters must be written or else what is the point of any of it? My inner compass told me it was time for a big, bold move.

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