Been There, Done That: So, Whattya Do

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Story by Jon Stalnaker AKA The Studebaker Dude

I remember being told “don’t volunteer for ANYTHING”. I’m not sure where I heard that, but it was probably in the military. That may be words of wisdom for many, but it didn’t work for me. I can recall many times when the call went out for someone to step forward, I was the one that raised my hand. At first, it was done with great reluctance and only after everyone that was asked, was standing there trying to look invisible while side glancing in hopes that some idiot would volunteer. Later on, after discovering the positive side of being the guy to step up, I found myself quick to shoot my hand in the air. I also learned that you don’t always have to be qualified to get the job, being willing was all you needed. I like to think that having confidence that you can do anything you set your mind to do also helps.

I got my first Service Award Certificate when I was around 10 years old. It was for serving on the School Safety Patrol. I wore a safety vest and helmet and helped grammar school kids cross the busy street at our school. We carried stop signs and walked out into the crosswalks to make sure the little ones got across safely. I found it fun while being an important job at the school. Plus, I got to wear the cool safety gear, and it made me feel important. Being the fifth of five children, that was important to little old me. The certificate was signed by the School Principal, Chief of Police, Training Officer, and PTA Representative. I still have it thanks to my big sister who saved it for me while I was gallivanting around establishing myself in life.

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When I got myself some real jobs, I liked to volunteer for special assignments and moonlighting jobs to widen my experiences and skills pool. I was always willing to step up, and it helped boost the self-esteem that I was always lacking due mostly to my birth order in a family of four other siblings that I always looked up to. It took me a long time to come to the realization that they were proud of me.

I’ve often thought it would be fun to make a list of the many job titles I have achieved in my working life. Some were temporary, and some were permanent, some paid positions I held, and some volunteer activities. I remember when I first got into management with the Postal Service and was moving up the ladder, I had to put together a resume of my accomplishments. I recall it was difficult in the beginning and I had to include accomplishments that were not as impressive as I made them sound. By the time I was applying for my dream job, I was finding myself deleting good stuff, so I would have room for the great stuff. All because I was always willing to do more when I saw a need.

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Please indulge me in my quest to make a list. I’m sure I will forget some, but allow me to attempt this before my memory is completely gone. My working life: Paperboy, Gas Station Attendant, coin sorter for Federal Reserve Bank, Airman, Special Services Jody Drill Team Secretary/Commander, Avionics Technician, Christmas Helper at APO Post Office, Mailhandler, MPLSM Clerk, Postal Credit Committee Member, Letter Carrier, Carrier Technician, Carrier Trainer, Accident Investigator, Supervisor, and Postmaster Instructor, Master Instructor, Supervisor, Facilitator, Superintendent of Postal Operations, Route Inspector, Team Leader, Officer-in-Charge, Postmaster, Delivery Engineer, Auditor, Planning Commissioner, Senior Center Club President, Radio Announcer, Bus Driver, Disc Jockey, Photographer, Musician, Docent, Docent Instructor, Writer, Author, Editor, Columnist, Board Director for Pacific Southwest Zone of the Studebaker Drivers Club, and Ordained Minister of the Universal Life Church. I’ll probably remember a few more after I submit this story, but I think this is enough to make my point. All of this is a result of being willing to volunteer and I have a plethora of wall plaques and binders of award certificates to verify this. In reality, I fully understand that while nobody else really cares, It was Important to me.