I’ve briefly touched on what I do for a living.
Yes, I’m an engineer. But, that is such a broad field now that it doesn’t really describe my job.
I started out in the U.S. Army. I built bridges. That was the easiest way to describe what I did.
After the Army, I worked for various employers, trying different things.
I was a radio operator, a prison guard, even worked in a school cafeteria.
I eventually found myself back in the infrastructure field.
I worked for various city and state agencies until I settled in with TxDOT.
I started at the bottom and worked my way up, until one day I discovered I was a Project Manager overseeing construction of most of the toll roads in Austin.
I did that for 10 years. I was good at it. I worked nights, weekends, holidays, rain, sleet, heat.
My phone would ring and I’d leave family gatherings, state playoff basketball games, birthday dinners and I would cancel plans at the last minute.
I’d find myself lying in bed at 3 am racking my brain about plan quantities, concrete designs and estimate preparation.
My job at TxDOT completely consumed my life.
I lost friends, sleep, relationships and my health because of the time demands and stress.
At 36 I suffered a mild heart attack. I had been hit by cars, suffered broken bones, required stitches, dislocated various joints and watched in horror as 2 of my colleagues were killed in construction accidents.
A little over a year ago I sat straight up in bed and decided it was time for a change.
I had gone through a horrible break up, had found my relationship with my children was suffering and I had gone from a healthy and happy 155lbs to 120 in less than 2 months.
I was miserable and my work was suffering. I was convinced that I did not want to build roads and bridges anymore.
I had won awards for it, was asked to serve on research projects, speak at seminars and teach classes to construction inspectors.
But just because I was good at it, didn’t mean it was what I was born to do.
I quit my job of 10 years, put my house on the market, packed my shit and moved to Houston.
I committed all the sins that people are told not to do at once: end a relationship, change jobs, relocate.
I’ve always done things my way. Why change now? It’s that very quality that made me so successful at work, but made me a failure at the important relationships in my life.
Within a month of moving to Houston I was offered the job I have now. I’m
The supervisor over the construction and materials testing department of a large engineering firm.
I sit in an office and direct “my guys” on how to build Whataburgers, Subdivisions, power plants, and the occasional road or bridge.
See, most roads and bridges that are built are done so under the direct oversight of TxDOT.
Well, my asshat boss is a raging alcoholic and selfish bastard, in general. I’m sure this all stems from insecurities and failed interpersonal relationships, but that’s a post for another day.
Anyways, one day at a seminar, my boss got drunk and called the TxDOT district engineer a “fat lazy mexican”. Seriously?!?! Could a person more willingly commit career suicide??
Since that day, my office has not been allowed to perform and work on a TxDOT contract in Houston.
All the TxDOT contracts that my company gets in the Houston area are actually awarded to our Austin office. So, all the construction that takes place down here is overseen by people in Austin, TX. A good 3 hours north of here.
Now, I knew I had a decent reputation in the state. I was aware that people knew me and what I had accomplished. So when the Austin office needed a person to help with the construction of the new Ft Bend toll road, they called me.
It was exactly what I was good at. In this area, I’m the best.
So, I loaded up my truck, put on my steel toes and went out to lend a hand.
That was over a month ago. I was there for 2 days. In that 2 days I got the paperwork lined out, taught the technician just what to look for and what to expect.
Ever since then, I’ve longed to go back.
I got a call a few weeks ago asking me to come back out and lend a hand. I eagerly said yes!
Then 2 days ago they called and said that time had been suspended for a little bit and they wouldn’t need me after all.
As Jenny will tell you, I was devastated.
I hadn’t realized just how much I missed being in the field. I knew I wasn’t happy but I didn’t think I’d be happy going back to the rat race I’d left in Austin.
Well, today I am back on site. I’m building caps on bent 2. I’m placing CSS on the lateral lines. I’m importing fill for MSE walls. I’m placing wall panels and I’m arguing with contractors about traffic control screw ups!
For today at least… I’m home!
This is what I do. This is what I love. And this is what I’m so damn good at!