“All I Want for Christmas” or “Am I Bad Person?”

Rodney Warner, JD
Rodney Warner, JD

I was a greedy little urchin when it came to Christmas. When I was a kid, the main purpose of Christmas was to expand my growing G. I. Joe empire. I didn’t have just one G.I. Joe, but a whole platoon of them, including a kung fu grip G.I. Joe. The training tower, the Jeep, the cave, the headquarters and even a submarine, were all at my disposal, thanks to Christmas.

Later, for some reason, Christmas was about getting a CB radio, not that I had anyone to talk to. I guess I was hoping it would link me to some greater outside world I could reach out to. All it provided was a link to bored housewives and static.

I’m older now, how much wiser is debatable, but my Christmas gift demands this year are much more reasonable (I think, anyways). I jokingly asked my wife for a new car, but it ain’t happening.

From 2000 to 2002, I dealt with cancer during Christmas. Each year was more grim than the previous one. My brother died of cancer about three weeks before Christmas in 2006, at the advanced age of 46. Health is something I want for Christmas, and something I’m very grateful to have (though I really need to eat better and exercise more).

Another thing I want, and will have this Christmas, is a job. I quit my former job working for a legal aid organization in October. After 16 years as an attorney, trying to solve other peoples’ problems, I had enough. After hearing for the 1,587th time, “I need help with child custody/divorce/job loss/insurance issues/eviction/you fill in the blank,” I thought to myself, so? Stand in line with everyone else. I’ve got 34 other people whose problems I’m trying to solve right now. I ceased to care, which is a very bad quality in an attorney.

Does this make me a bad person? Once upon a time I used to think, everyone’s job should be solving other peoples’ problems. That way there would be very few problems, and the world would be a much better place. I’ve learned first hand that solving other people’s problems is not a line of work for everyone. We all should be concerned about others, and help as best we can, but making it a full time job is something relatively few of us are equipped to do for any length of time.

I’m taking my talents (as Lebron James would say) to a sales position in the world of solar power. Tomorrow I start a job for a company that sells solar power systems for homes and businesses, Green Energy People, LLC. Instead of talking to people about their abusive spouse, thieving child or boss who tells inappropriate jokes and uses a pornographic screen saver, I’ll be talking to people about their electric bills and the money they can save if they buy a solar power system. Instead of presentations on disability law or the virtues of writing a will, I’ll be doing presentations on the tax benefits and government incentives for buying a solar power system.

In my way, I’ll still be helping others. My customers will save money, the environment will benefit by a decrease (however small) of the use of fossil fuel powered electricity, my employer and its suppliers will get more work, hopefully resulting in more, steadier, jobs (the best social program is a good job). I also hope to help my daughter (and myself) with a better income. I hope that in about five years, she’ll be deciding what college to attend. If you’re employed by a legal aid organization and want to pay for your child’s college education, you’ll either need a second or third job, or a winning lotto ticket, to accomplish that goal.

It looks like my wish list will be fulfilled again this Christmas, whether or not I’m a good person.

Actually, I have one more thing on my list, making my first sale. If you’re interested in solar power, let me know. I can hook you up.

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