My dream job

A few days after I was laid off, Texas A&M University posted a position. It was for a pavement section lead.

Like most large universities, A&M is a city within a city. They have their own water, electric, and municipality departments. One of those is a department that oversees the construction and maintenance of the roads, streets, drainage, etc. That’s the department I applied for.

College Station was a good 1 1/2 hours drive from where Jenny and I were living before. Now it’s only about 45 minutes away.

Anyone that’s ever tackled Houston traffic knows that a simple trip to the grocery store could take 30 minutes or more. In fact, my last job would require a 50 minute drive in the morning and over an hour in the evenings. It was only 17.6 miles away.

So, the drive time had become a non issue.

The pay isn’t as much as I was making at my last job but with the benefits costing me less out of pocket, I’d actually bring home more on my paycheck. Another plus.

This position is also hourly. Something I haven’t had in over 12 years. I’ve gotten so used to being given a flat amount of money every paycheck that I forgot that some folks actually do get compensated for their time beyond 40 hrs. And yes, I’m guaranteed a minimum of 40 hrs per week.

Due to the fact that this position would require me to do 24 HR dispatch calls to the on call technicians, I’d also be getting extra hours while sitting at home making the appropriate arrangements.

So, travel? Good
Pay? Good
Benefits? Good
Work environment? Good

This position is what I’ve been doing for the past 20 years. The difference? I’d be building $25,000.00 roads instead of billion dollar bridges.

Well, a few weeks after I submitted my application, the University called to tell me that the new Chancellor had decided to outsource that department.

So, I turned my attention to finding other positions.

That was towards the end of January.

Well, last week I got a call. After crunching the numbers, the Chancellor had come to the realization that he couldn’t get the work done any more effectively or cheaper than what the staff he has now could do it. So they wanted to interview me.

I drove up and anxiously awaited the interview. I was taken to a conference room where 2 supervisors began telling me what the job entailed and how the interview would be conducted.

Like most agencies that receive state
funding, they interview using a standard process of tests and assessments. Since it’s a management position, that included questions about HR policies, attitudes towards difficult employees and my general management style.

There were also 3 practical tests. One was basic construction calculations (I.e. If we have a road to be repaved that’s 2500′ long, 25′ wide and we’ll be placing a mat that’s 2.5″ thick, how much hmac will it take and how much will it cost at 78.18 per ton?)

The second part was surveying. I haven’t done any actual field surveying in over 15 years but I remembered enough to get the elevations that they wanted.

Lastly was a tool recognition test. They had 15 different tools laid out on a table and I had to identify each one and what it’s use was.

All of these were easy enough and I zipped through them fairly quickly.

When I came back inside, the lead supervisor told me that he loved the answers I put down for my management assessment.

He then asked me if I’d be interested in “moving up” to a higher position with them.

He then began telling me what holidays they had off and even said “you’ll have the upcoming memorial day weekend off with pay.”

Then he was telling me all the benefits I’d have working for a University. Spring break w pay, Christmas break w pay, time during the summer, discount tuition for my kids, etc.

He even stated, “This isn’t the scale you’re used to. We don’t build million dollar projects, but I think you’ll be happy here.”

The interview took about 2 hours. Actually, the interview took about 45 minutes, the testing took about 30 and the rest of the time we sat there talking about gas prices, Cinco De Mayo celebrations and just random conversation.

I left feeling elated. It felt like the perfect fit. For me and the University.

They told me they had 1 other candidate to interview, but so far I was his first choice.

That was Tuesday. Here it is Monday and I haven’t heard back. They have to do a criminal background check and a driving records check but those are both clean. (after a few promising interviews that didn’t lead anywhere, I called a friend w the DPS to check. Hey, who knows what my ex coulda done that showed up on my background?)

I’m making Jenny crazy. I am moody and whiny. I want to know.

The logical part of me says, “It takes 24-72 hrs to get a background check back after they submit it. They took 3 months just to call you for an interview. Things have fallen in to place to make this job the best fit for you. Just be patient”

But the part of me that can’t stand not working and providing for my family is screaming, “Call Me, Damnit!!

I’ll be patient. Believe that God is working at his pace and not mine and continue to be mindful that he hasn’t left me to fend for myself yet. Why would he start now?

Yesterdays sermon said “It’s not your place to know what God has in mind for you, or when things will happen.” So, I’m going to try to remember that and be hopefully optimistic.

I am worried that Jenny is getting anxious, though. I don’t want things to get to the point that all the financial obligations fall on her. Even for a short time.

So, fingers crossed. Send good vibes my way, because my gut tells me this is the light at the end of our tunnel and it’s not a train!


Mothers day.

Today was mothers day. It was a day that started out fairly nice and pretty much went to shit.

I was sitting in my truck tonight thinking. This mothers day, Jenny and I both, spent it without our mothers.

Sadly, we both lost our mom’s in September. We just lost them in very different ways.

My mother lost a 5 year battle with colon cancer on September 14 of 2011. She was never the type of mom to give lots of hugs or kisses, but I knew through her toughness that she loved me.

Last year she was upset with me. I decided that I needed to move to Houston and I brought my youngest daughter with me. I guess she felt like I took away her closest friend.

Anyways, she wasn’t speaking to me but I still made an effort to tell her I was thinking of her on that day.

I sent her a card and a text. On mothers day I texted, “Happy mothers day. I love you and appreciate all you’ve done for me. Have a great day.”

Her response? “You too.”

It wasn’t much, but at least she acknowledged me.

This year, I didn’t even have the opportunity to do that. I walked through stores seeing all the card displays and gift baskets. Watched the ads for jewelry, candy and flowers. In the end, I knew that I no longer had a mom to thank for just being my mom.

Jenny lost her mom due to the fact that she’s gay. In September, she got a text from her dad saying that they needed to cancel any upcoming plans and they’d contact her when they were ready to talk.

See, they found out about me. They weren’t/aren’t ok with the idea that she’s gay, but as long as they didn’t have to acknowledge it’s existence they pretended it wasn’t real. Jenny having a partner made it real and they weren’t ready to be forced outside of their comfort zone.

So days turned into weeks. Then weeks became months. Her adoption day, Thanksgiving, then Christmas passed. There was little to nothing said to Jenny during any of those days from her parents.

A few days ago she decided to send her mom a card. We looked at dozens. This one wasn’t right. It described a mom who is loving and accepting. That one was filled with gratitude for a mother who showed unconditional love. Others detailed an appreciation for a mom that’s a friend as well as a mother.

Finally she settled on a pretty, but basic, “I hope you have a mothers day full of love and laughter.”

Pretty benign. But, I know what she was feeling. If mom hasn’t talked to her in over 8 months, she doesn’t exactly exude the qualities described in those other cards.

For Jenny to give her one of those would have been almost sarcastic. And if nothing else, she was not going to be blatantly disrespectful.

Today we went to church, took the kids to lunch and came home to relax. While Jenny was reading her book, she got a text from her dad. “Happy mothers day. Mom loved her card. We love and miss you.”.

Sweet? Right?

Yes, it was thoughtful. But the words weren’t what made Jenny cry. It was the fact that it still didn’t come from mom. Her dad was the one that acknowledged that Jenny refuses to give up on her family.

I don’t know what type of celebration they had. She wasn’t included and didn’t expect to be.

But today, both of us were forced to mourn the fact that we can’t be with our mothers on a day meant to celebrate all they sacrificed for us.

As for our kids? The girls got us cards and flowers. The boys were just boys. But we spent the day together and with most of our children. So it wasn’t half bad, in my book.