The Forest for the Trees

It is slightly unnerving to discover that in spite of no particular planning on your part you have ended up living in one of the best places to live. Of course there are all sorts of caveats on that statement. If you mess with the criteria enough you can say that about any place. But when national magazines write articles about the ten best places to live and work in the United States and your city keeps showing up on the list it’s hard to deny that there is something to it.

There are several ways that this might have happened and then there is the way that it actually happened. The latter is as good a story as any. It was 1975 and I was a college student. My wife was pregnant and I needed a job. I took the civil service exam for postal worker and made top marks on it. The problem was, veterans were given a 10 point lead over non-veterans. So, someone who made a 95 on the test ended up with an adjusted score of 105 and was given preference for the job.

I looked for work for weeks but I didn’t know how to look for a job. The only jobs I’d ever had were the result of knowing someone that knew me or my parents. My job experience was somewhat limited. I had been a guitar player and gunfighter in a western theme park and I had been a probationary supply clerk for the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad thanks to my father-in-law. The gig with the railroad was messed up when I had a minor wreck and was out of work for a week.

It occurred to me that perhaps if I joined the Army I could expand upon my job skills and at very least I would be a veteran and thus eligible for the preferential hiring policy at the post office. I talked with the recruiter and told him that I wanted to enlist for the longest school that had training in fixing digital computer hardware. He suggested Pershing Missile Repairman and I embarked on an adventure that would lead me to Huntsville, Alabama.

I spent nine months in Pershing school where I learned to repair two different computers and related peripheral hardware. Part of that peripheral hardware was the guidance system of the Pershing missile. It was an exciting time. After I graduated from the school, I was sent to Neu Ulm Germany to practice my newly learned trade. After an adventurous two years there, I got sent back to Huntsville to be an instructor in the Pershing school.

After I got out of the Army, I new I wanted a career in computers. After an abortive start with a small startup in Birmingham, I returned to Huntsville once again. I didn’t plan to live in Huntsville. There were just a lot of good jobs that required my skills with computers. I started out at Intergraph, a rapidly growing Computer Aided Drafting startup. I had several jobs in the aerospace industry including a twenty five year run with one of the leading airplane manufacturers.

Life has been good. But now I find myself looking around for something new. I want to use my experience with computers but I also want to explore my newly developed writing skills. I also want to change my work hours some. I’m tired of getting up before dawn to get my writing done and get to work by eight o’clock. I’ve always been more of an afternoon person anyway.

This certainly didn’t go the way I expected it to but four thirty comes early tomorrow and I’m still committed to my current job. Consequently, I don’t plan on scrapping this post, or rewriting it. I will tuck it in bed, tag it, write a title for it, and head for bed myself.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.