Life Lessons From Everyday People: Furniture Repair Guy

So, I just had a heart-to-heart with the guy who came to fix my furniture. That’s totally normal, right? He was a lovely man in his mid 50’s: tall, lanky, with thick spectacles and a social awkwardness that instantly made me like him.

After a few minutes of examining my sectional, we concluded that it was a hopeless endeavor — which I kinda already knew but didn’t really wanna know — and I’d be better off replacing it. With that business out of the way, we began to make small talk as he filled out the stack of paperwork required for a visit that took less than 15 minutes.

I first asked him if he’d ever ventured into furniture making of his own and the conversation took off from there. He welcomed me into his life by recounting stories as if I were an old friend. I appreciated his candor and transparency. These are the moments I live for — when two people can genuinely connect in an honest exchange. Real. Human. Connection.

In his mid 20’s, he, too, made a dramatic career change. He left his high-paying, high-status corporate gig because:

  1. He was working 70–80 hour weeks and wasn’t spending enough time with his two young children.
  2. He hated his work.
  3. The stressors of his job was making him sick. His doctor warned him that he’d have a heart attack soon if he didn’t make changes (which is really saying something as he was only 26 at the time)!

Over a casual conversation with his brother one day (who worked in the furniture industry), they realized a need in the market. I wish I could say that they started the business, took a ride on the gravy train, and lived happily ever after, but this is real life and that ish just doesn’t happen.

After prospecting every potential customer within a 50 mile radius, they had a total of ZERO customers. But that’s not how this story is supposed to go… Doesn’t hard work and persistence get rewarded?

Well, what they learned was that

people are so afraid of change that they’d prefer to remain unhappy with their current — and broken (but known)— situation versus trying something scary and new (and unknown).

It sounded silly to me at first but as I thought about it more, I was easily able to conjure up many times when I, too, stayed in a situation (with a partner, job, group) that caused me a great deal of unhappiness because it was easier (and safer) than stepping off the cliff into the painful abyss of change.

Though I can’t say for certain whether I made the right choice each time I braved the fall and the subsequent arduous journey to the other side, what I can say is that I’ve grown every time I’ve willed myself through the uncomfortable throes of change and have become a little wiser because of it.

Now, our favorite furniture repair guy’s story does have a happy ending (even if it didn’t end in riches and gold). When I asked him if he ever regretted leaving his high-paying job, he said that it was the best decision he had ever made. Though he doesn’t make as much money as he would have had he kept climbing the corporate ladder, he was able to attend every single Little League game his kids played in, chaperone school field trips, and instill in his children the importance of putting your values above a salary and to find a way to be of service to others. In fact, his daughter is a registered nurse who cares for the elderly and apparently, “the kind of nurse who throws their pajamas in the dryer at night before helping her patients into bed.”