A recent sports blog introduced a father who quit his job to see his son pitch at the College World Series. Given the potential difficulty in finding and keeping a job in the twenty-first century, we can debate the sanity of this dad for walking away from gainful employment. At the same time, I personally applaud his choice. Balancing work with family is challenging. Yes, situations present themselves in which work must come first. As many situations may present themselves in which family must take priority over work.
As a parent of five children, I have been faced with similar situations and decisions. When my first son was born, I opted to give notice at a part-time job I had held for several months, because what I considered to be adequate daycare could not be provided. Many years and two careers later (with the support of my family), I began a new career as a writer and a teacher, leaving behind a steady corporate job. Neither of these choices was impulsive. The decisions were given a great deal of thought; the risks were calculated. With each decision, the needs of the family were placed before the needs of the business with which I was employed.
Was Roth’s risk as calculated? Maybe not; was the risk worth it in the long run? I think so. Depending on the situation, I may have done the same thing. His priority was his family. For many of us, we work for our family. Whether we examine the home of a single parent or the work profile of a mom or a dad, we can agree in general that we work to give our family a home, clothe our children properly, and bring food to the table. If we cannot enjoy time with our family when it means the most, then work becomes meaningless.
In the instance of David Roth walking away from his job selling automobiles to watch his son pitch at the College World Series, his message to the employer was that the job was essentially meaningless when compared to the passion he felt for his family and his son in particular. We could say that this choice was a foolish one, but I suspect that Roth will find a job again soon, enjoying the best of both worlds. I honestly admire his dedication to his family. When we leave this world (to whatever plane of existence, by whatever fashion), I would like to think we are judged by the wealth within as opposed to our tangible fortune.
Without knowing the full story – obviously, we do not have the point of view of the dealership management – we can suspect that the manager followed business protocol that presupposes when an employee is not excused, then the employee has no choice but to work. Had the employer looked beyond the bottom line of the ledger, he or she may have been able to calculate the wealth of love that Roth felt for his son and forecasted Dad’s response to being told he could not watch his son play in a game that may be a once-in-a-lifetime event. This was a moment that could not be replaced. This, too, is a message to employers: there are other jobs. Some moments cannot be replaced.
When I find myself in a pivotal moment, wrestling with a decision that could have negative consequences, potentially provoking feelings of regret, I ask myself: “will I regret not making this decision?” If I can answer “yes” to this question, I err on the side of risk. I think Roth would have regretted not going to his son’s ball game. What the future holds for Roth and his family is not assured, but you can be assured that the moment for Roth and his son was worth the decision to walk away from a shortsighted employer. Moments are all we have, and they are worth the risk.