“Just call me ‘Chico’” trainer Ezequiel Tijerina’s new student told him. “I never learned his name,” Tijerina says, “but I will always remember that student.”
Working in Senior Planet’s San Antonio location, Ezequiel (photo at left) taught members how to use their computers, iPads, cell phones and the like. “With newbies, I start with the basics – things like what an app or a link is, how to open them – all the beginning things,” says Ezequiel. Members ready for more sign up for Senior Planet’s more advanced classes.
“Chico always brought his own laptop,” Ezequiel remembers. “He had one overriding goal: to talk to and see his grandson serving in Afghanistan.
“I spent extra time with Chico to show him what to do,” Ezquiel recalls, “but I didn’t think much about it. After all, video meetings are pretty ho-hum for me.”
Ezequiel’s “ho-hum” attitude changed in a flash a few days later when Chico came in to the Center bursting with excitement. “I talked to my grandson!” he exulted. “AND I was able to see him, too!”
Birth of a calling
The experience was life-changing for Chico – but life-changing for Ezequiel as well. “In that moment I realized that my job not only enhances, but can even change, a person’s life,” he says. “I’ve seen my work as a trainer in a much, bigger, more meaningful way, ever since.”
Ezequiel’s realization is well understood by psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski, professor at Yale School of Management. Her research shows that people in all positions can view their work primarily as a job, as a career – or as a calling. While there is no right or wrong orientation toward work, Dr. Wrzesniewski found that those with a calling orientation – as Ezequiel’s orientation suddenly became – report higher satisfaction with their lives and their work.
While his previous employment generally involved dealing with the public, Ezequiel’s Senior Planet work teaching people how to use electronics offers a more intense involvement with people…and also special gratification.
“Sometimes I see a student’s eyes widen. What seemed hard at first is suddenly easy. While they don’t say it out loud, I know those big eyes mean ‘Now I get it!’ I get a kick out of it every time I see one of those eye clicks’,” says Ezequiel.
Learning how to use his laptop to see and talk to his grandson in Afghanistan changed Chico’s life – and his grandson’s – in an important way. But seeing first-hand the meaning and importance of the lessons he teaches changed Ezequiel in a significant way, as well.
Photo from Adobe Stock — for illustrative purposes only.