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  • Ben Schad

Punching In.



If you had told me that just a few months after graduating college I would be getting up at 4 a.m. for my job I probably would have believed you. Had you told me I would be living in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania I would also believe that. Being able to live closer to the love of my life as she sets the foundation for her lifelong journey of answering her passion for teaching is very much a possibility. Had you told me I would be working in a warehouse full of pet supplies, that's where you would lose me.


It's no secret we all hate this pandemic. It fucking sucks, plain and simple. Mentally and physically, its taken its toll on me and so many others in the 6-7 months that it has affected our lives. I lost the rest of what would have been my best spring sports broadcasting season. I lost the remaining two months of my college career at Millersville. I lost one of the most coveted days of my life, graduation, with still no idea if/when it is going to happen. I lost my optimism. I lost my faith in strangers. I lost faith in this country. And countless others have lost so much more.


Now I can go on and on about being sad and throw the longest pity parade of my life, but that's not how I was raised to think. I was taught to cope, I was taught to put my head down, grind life out, and keep punching.


So how did I cope with the pandemic?


Soon after the country started shutting down, I decided to throw an application at my local GIANT grocery store. My Millersville jobs were most likely not going to return, and honest to god, money came second to just getting out of my damn apartment. Working at GIANT was a very polarizing experience. It's not often you see the worst of people at the local grocery store, that's more of a job for Walmart. But during this pandemic, patience was short and tempers were high. You had people who didn't want to wear masks. People who didn't want to wait in a line that sometimes wrapped around half of the perimeter of the store. People who couldn't believe that the specific product they were looking for wasn't there in the midst of a global pandemic. I had customers throw fits because they had to walk in or out a different door than they were used too. I only had one break for every shift I worked, so I tried to just bury myself in social media only to find out that was just as, if not, worse than the environment I was working in.


Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat weren't all that bad. A lot of memories of pre-pandemic life. Lots of politics and news. Some encouraging things here and there. But Facebook became so bad of a shitshow, that I deleted the app. So much anti-masking, virus hoaxing, gut-reaction sharing, misinformation spewing that it made me sick to my stomach. I was tired of seeing the bullshit my loved ones believed and didn't have the time nor the patience to fact check and correct all of them.


I came away from GIANT with a much more profound respect for grocery store workers. People coming from so many different backgrounds and walks of life really put my life into perspective. I started to appreciate the little things (partly because I had nothing better to do).


Applications for what little broadcasting gigs were available, came and went. To this day, I have had no interviews, follow-ups, nothing. I did take away some positives from the experience. I got to talk to a handful of connections who gave me extensive knowledge and advice on just how the hell to navigate an already difficult career field.


The lease on my apartment was coming up in late July. I had some choice in a world that had narrowed my options. At the suggestion of my girlfriend, I applied for a job at Chewy.com. They have a warehouse in Mechanicsburg, which would allow me to live close to her, something we both wanted as we're trying to get our adult lives off the ground.


The interview was rather easy, a little too easy. I ended up getting the offer and it was up to me to choose my shift and get started. While I was more than happy to get a new, well-paying job during a pandemic, I still felt like it went without a bang.


Have I ever truly earned a job on my own? It's a question I ask myself on a regular occasion. In my mind I truly earn a job when the following happens:

  1. My application and/or resume gets selected along with a few others.

  2. I, along with these others have our interviews.

  3. Follow-ups or perhaps another interview.

  4. The phone call or invite to tell me I got the job.

There are times where I have followed along similar processes to the one I keep dreaming in my head, like when I interned with the Wilmington Blue Rocks. However, I would have never come close to that internship if my friend, Kevin Gehl didn't heavily suggest me for the opportunity. Would have I still been accepted to that internship had I done it blindly without any connection? I have no idea.


Flashing back to Chewy I don't think I ever had an opportunity to show them my resume, to show what I could really offer. Suddenly the questions start running through my head. Will anyone recognize my worth? Will my degree ever get put to work? Am I gonna be stuck doing odd jobs for the rest of my life? Will I make anything beyond hourly pay? Will I ever commentate again? My optimism was gone. I had minor breakdowns, times where I just cried because I don't know what the fuck I'm doing, I don't know where I'm going, I tried so hard to make my dreams a reality only for something I can't see and can't control to take them away. I can't find distractions, I can't find something random to do, I cant. I can't. I can't. Never in my life had I felt so tapped out, so empty, so dry.



So how do I cope? How do I get myself out of this hole? How do I fill the tank? How do I find myself? "You have a lot of help. You listen to everybody and then you call the play." From there I sought inspiration and help from those closest to me. My parents and Sarah both proved to be tremendous pillars of strength as they always have time and time again. One point that I always come to whenever I go through these struggles is this. I can either let whatever is troubling me, continue to dominate me and ail me for as long as I continue to let it. Or, I can do something about it. I was taught to put my head down, grind life out, and keep punching.

And that's exactly what I did.


Despite what has gone on in the world I continue to keep moving forward. Since then I have become engaged to the love of my life. I continue to apply for any and all opportunities that come my way. I am improving my handwriting. I am reading again. I am exploring new ways to put my skills in broadcasting to use. And now, one conversation at work has set forth a domino effect that could very well end with a new position, one that puts my degree to use, one that gets me off the warehouse floor.


I've had these thoughts swirling around in my head for a while now, and I thank you for taking the time to read them.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Love one another.


Sincerely,

Ben Schad

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