I thanked my driver for finding me. He had the heater on when I got in the car. He offered to turn it up or turn it off, and that is the kind of weather pattern we are in right now – cold in the morning, about 49 degrees Fahrenheit, and warm in the afternoon, about 89 degrees.

I asked my driver where he was from and I told him I assumed he was from out of state. He said yes, absolutely, he was from upper New York State. I told him I had been there a few times for travel and various functions. My driver said he didn’t miss the snow, but he missed the seasons and looking forward to the seasons. As much as he enjoys the beautiful weather in Arizona, sunshine all the time is just monotonous. [I’ve heard this before, but I get seasonal depression, so I need the sunshine.]

I asked my driver what he did for work before he got into driving. He said he was in the manufacturing field for 26 years. At first he was working on the floor with everyone else, but then he found an opening for safety management, so he got into that. It turned into a round-the-clock position and he became passionate about it, because he saw some really bad accidents during his tenure.

I didn’t get to ask him about those bad accidents – and maybe he didn’t want to talk about those anyway. My driver did say that when things were going down, he stayed pretty level-headed, though I could tell he was sensitive at heart. He had the look of heartbreak on his face. But he told me that he finally got out of the industry because of a really bad manager. The manager was nasty to him no matter what direction he took. The manager was critical of him, for example, when an employee injured his back. My driver accompanied him to the on-site health services to start the process of getting him checked out, because the guy was also nauseated and seemed to be a bit scared. My driver said that the manager came up to him and demanded to know why he was there with the injured guy instead of back on the plant floor. My driver said the manager would have done the exact same thing if he would have done the same thing if he would have remained on the plant floor and sent the guy off on his own. The manager got off on power, period, because he had acted that way before. He made enemies of everyone and he was proud of it. My driver said that he only worked under the manager for four (long) years but had worked with some of the employees for four times that, and he preferred them, hands down. He just couldn’t take it anymore.

I talked to my driver about the article I had read just yesterday about how this supposed worker shortage isn’t real, or doesn’t fall under the label it has been given. It isn’t about an actual headcount shortage. It’s about people not wanting to work under jackasses like this guy, or minimum wage with no benefits/sick pay/vacation pay. Is it really so difficult to fathom that people deserve better? So this idea of, “Why don’t you go out and get better?” is actually being adopted. Okay, yes. Check. Finding better, like my driver guy. He’s been out for six months and living off savings, but of course that’s a luxury. The job market isn’t always kind to older job seekers either.

As I was getting out of the car, I wished my driver well in figuring out the next step. Somehow he managed to tell me as my feet were hitting the pavement and the door was halfway shut that he was also now divorced. I think it was more of just unburdening himself rather than any kind of hint; people tend to tell me a lot.