SILER CITY — For Pat Hackney, one of the secrets to happiness is staying close to home.
She still lives in her hometown of Bennett, where she and her late husband, Charles, raised three sons, Tony, Jerry and Drew. And when it came time, back in 1982, to help supplement the family’s income, she again stuck close to home, taking a job at an insurance agency in downtown Siler City.
She’s still in that same job today.
This month, she’s observing her 40th year as an account manager, celebrating with co-workers at Glick Insurance Group, located at 116 S. Chatham Ave. in Siler City.
“I enjoy my job,” Hackney said “I know what is expected of me, and I just tried to do my best.”
Hackney started at what was then Nationwide Insurance in 1982 shortly after her third child was born. It was a way to bring in a second income following her husband’s retirement from military service. Getting the job required a typing test and a couple of certifications from Davidson Community College.
“Back then, everything was hands-on — no computers, going through the manuals and looking up rates,” she said. “I didn’t have computers when I was going to school, so anytime I do anything new, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot, especially since I do not know anything about computers.”
Technology wasn’t the only change Hackney would see during all those years at S. Chatham Avenue. New bosses and new owners came and went; today, Hackney works for agency owner Michael Glick, whose main practice is located at 131 S Birch St. in downtown Siler City.
“He already had one location in town, and so he combined them,” Hackney said. “I enjoy working for Michael — he has been very good to me over the years.”
Siler City also changed over the 40 years Hackney has spent working downtown. She said manufacturing plants and steady jobs used to keep the town bursting at the seams, but not so much these days.
“We had so much at one time, and then now we have so many empty buildings,” Hackney said. “I would like to see more companies come into town to help keep people in town … At one time you could come in and do whatever you wanted. Well, now it’s not that way anymore.”
Despite the occasional rude customer, Hackney said she’s thankful for her career. Since that first day in 1982, she’s never sought work elsewhere. And the people she’s met have made her day-to-day work life brighter.
“I’ve been here for so long, and I’ve watched babies become adults,” she said. “They’re just like friends and family.”
Hackney tries to live life by the “Golden Rule,” treating others as she would like to be treated. By doing so, she says she’s been able to experience high satisfaction — not just in her work place, but in her life as well.
For Hackney, her clients aren’t just customers. They’re family.
“I’ve watched a lot of my customers over the years, and I have lost several because they have passed away and it’s like losing part of my family,” she said. “I just try to treat people the way I want to be treated or how I would expect people to treat me in business situations.”
Working at the same business for 40 years isn’t as commonplace as it used to be, Hackney said. And she has some advice for those looking for long, fulfilling careers.
“Find a job that you enjoy and stick with it because you may have one bad day, but the majority of the days are gonna be a lot better,” Hackney said. “I think everybody should enjoy their work. I think that’s what makes you stay — if you enjoy it, and you know your job.”
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter at @HeedenTaylor.