In my last position in the business world, I headed up the Talent Management Department for a Fortune 200 company. One of the teams that reported to me was Recruiting and Staffing, or as we referred to them, Talent Selection. The company had a headquarters in Green Bay as well as downtown Chicago, so some of my team resided in both locations.
I am not a city person. Even Green Bay is plenty big, even too big, for my taste. That’s why my home is about 10 miles out of town. But even this area that was very rural when we first built our home has really been built up over the 30 plus years we have lived here. My business travels through the years brought me to many major cities like New York, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Los Angeles and of course Chicago. I must confess that the thing I appreciated the most from every visit was safely getting back to the airport for the trip home. I know some people crave the big city experience, but not I.
One week we brought a new hire recruiter who was based in Chicago up to Green Bay for additional training. I will call her Cheryl. She was bright and full of energy; this was her first job for a big company. The training went well and her Team Leader and I took the training group out to dinner to celebrate their successful week.
We went to one of the restaurants along the Fox River that had outdoor dining since the weather was nice. As the evening progressed Cheryl looked up in the sky and remarked that it was odd to be in a “downtown” and still be able to see stars. She explained that she had lived her entire life in downtown Chicago and the city was so bright at night that the stars were lost beyond the city lights. Cheryl explained that they didn’t have real stars but they had “plane stars”. When she and her siblings were younger, they would watch the almost-constant overflight of planes. When the planes were approaching, they would count the two headlights as “plane stars”.
My small-town heart wanted to be sad for Cheryl. To be deprived of a night sky full of stars seemed like a childhood loss to me. Still, it also says something of the resilience of the human spirit. It speaks of our innate longing for those things that take our imaginations, our minds, our hearts and our souls upward to search for infinite possibility. We crave a sense of wonder and we will not be denied.