By Mindy Wolfle
June 14, 2018
Although my monthly column is centered on all things business, I’m diverging a bit into the personal this June. In 1990, I changed jobs after 18 years with the Nassau County Department of Social Services. It was a scary leap, and one that came with a substantial pay cut. But I wanted to find out what was “out there” for me. I’d reached my wits end as a government employee and just knew that there was more Icould do with my yet-to-be-discovered talents, so into the private sector I leaped.
Fast forward to 2018. By now, I’ve been a career changer several times over and ventured into the world of entrepreneurism. What I’ve found out is that we all have the entrepreneurial spirit, if we just let ourselves tap into it. I’ve attended meetings that number in the hundreds (more likely the thousands). I’ve been on committees, chaired galas, served on boards of directors and been a mentor and mentee.
I’ve ventured into teaching and turning people onto new ideas and broadening their minds. I’ve expressed my point of view, quite often outside some standard expectation. I’ve made friends and trusted colleagues. It’s no surprise to those who know me that I’ve gotten myself in hot water and danced the dance of mea culpa. I’ve learned, too, to listen carefully and speak less when less can be more.
Regrets, I have a few. Those memorable words, written by Paul Anka and sung for posterity by Frank Sinatra, have been cluttering my mind these past few days. My Android smartphone, which I purchased following Hurricane Sandy, is long overdue for replacement. The icon named “visible voicemail” read “no voicemails.” Growing suspicious late last week, I clicked on “call voicemail.” To my astonishment, I had 17 messages waiting to be retrieved. Most were of little or no consequence. One of devastating.
Going back to 1990, where this article began, I needed a new haircutter. At my first job in the private sector, I supervised a young woman who recommended her friend Ginny to me. Ginny worked at a salon about one-half hour from my home. It turned out that we were down-the-block neighbors. I followed her to the next salon and then the next. We became each other’s cat sitters. We socialized a little, but mostly chatted while I was getting my hair clipped and colored. Hairdressers and their clients share an abundance of personal information in the safety of our mutual confidence. More recently, we texted a lot. In looking back at those texts, I see Ginny first mentioned not feeling well in April 2016. Long doctor visits and procedures began that August. More details emerged in 2017 and early 2018. An unwinnable cancer battle. I had to find a new hairdresser. I sent Ginny cards and gave her little gifts to make us both feel better.
That devastating voicemail was from her husband, telling me of Ginny’s passing. The regret and guilt I am feeling is palpable. If only I had heard that message when it came. If only she and I had stayed in contact throughout the past few months. We ran into each other at a fish market on Valentine’s Day. Things were looking optimistic with the introduction of immunotherapy. We never did make that lunch date that we spoke and texted about. Often, I have written about connecting with business people on a personal level. My professional and personal relationship with Ginny lasted almost 28 years. Yes, regrets, I have a few.