On a beautiful and unseasonably warm Friday night, I was driving home after a great day hanging with friends when I saw an old colleague riding his bike down the street. I pulled over to the side and called his name, “Trent! Trent!” He looked, peered into the passenger side window and his face lit up!
“Neo? Is that you?” He called out with delight.
I had not kept in touch with Trent for several years and only have sprinkles of information from social media. Trent and I had worked together over a decade ago and Trent has continued to work in the industry. Trent was now in his mid-forties, married, has a teenage daughter, and another on the way. He has aged significantly, his face and overall body revealed years of long hours, substance indulgence and family hardships. Trent explained that he had tried his hands at entrepreneurship and ran out of money and had to return to work. He also recognized that he should have done things differently and regretted his decision to give up too soon on his passion.
Trent is now an Executive, but still logs over 70 hours per week on a fixed salary. It was Friday night, 8pm and Trent was walking back to the office after getting takeout. His wife and kids were home waiting for him. Another typical night and possibly another weekend of work without any additional compensation. He just has to suck it up and put out. Day after day, week after week and year after year. What choice does he have? I extended my empathy and some brief advice from inside the car. We bid farewell and promised to connect again.
When Trent wakes up on Monday, he will have a chance to ride his bike on a different path.