Today's Featured Biography
After High School, I wasted a lot of money going to college. First, I spent two semesters at DeVry.
Then, I decided that engineering was too boring, so I moved to OSU where I studied a little of this
and a little of that.
But my heart was more into playing video games than getting an education, so after being put on
academic probation after four quarters at OSU, I dropped out, moved out of my dad's house, and
started working for McDonald's.
There, I perfected my burger making skills, developing the highly coveted ability to assemble and
wrap a cheeseburger in less than 20 seconds.
I quickly rose through the ranks from peon to crew trainer to manager in less than a year. Once I got
that far, malaise set in, and I habitually arrived late for my shifts and refused to tuck in my shirt
(I am quite a rebel). Strangely, this did not matter to my boss, and I continued to gain raises and
more responsibilities because I was 'such a good worker'.
I was perfectly happy with this arrangement because I was expending almost no effort for the rewards
I was receiving, but there was still room to decrease my work output further. I decided I would test
my boss to see just how little work I could actually get away with doing.
First, I started showing up 30 minutes late for a shift, then one hour, then two, and then finally
not showing up at all. I was confused but delighted when this only resulted in my boss becoming
I think deep down, though, I was feeling guilty about how lazy I had become, so I finally quit
McDonald's and started working through a temp agency called Labor Ready.
Working with Labor Ready was a mixed blessing. It was great because I was able to unequivocally
eliminate a large range of dirty and strenuous jobs from the list of jobs I would ever desire to take
on full time. It sucked, though, because the pay was almost exactly minimum wage (less if I had Labor
Ready cash my check at the end of the day).
Up to this point I had never been very proactive when it came to paying the bills, but the move to
Labor Ready and its accompanying reduction in salary made it difficult to both pay my bills and
support my addiction to video games. Unfortunately, video games won the budget battle most of the
time. Except when it came to paying the electric bill. I was unable to play video games without
electricity, so I paid that bill like clockwork every month.
The rent, on the other hand, was frequently late. I hadn't quite made the jump in reasoning from needing electricity to play video games to needing a home in which to play video games. Subsequently, after 3 consecutive months of rent tardiness, my landlord got fed up, changed my lock,and dumped my
belongings while I was across town washing dishes at OSU hospital.
For me, that was a wake up call that I needed to grow up. I made arrangements to move in with some
friends. Their house was full already, but they kindly allowed my to take up residence on an air
matress situated in one of the closets (it was a largish closet). Then, over the next few months, I
saved up my money so that I could move back to the Dayton area. My plan was to take advantage of the
super cheap tuition at Sinclair.
So I eventually moved back to Dayton, I got a job at the Sinclair Math Lab, and I started taking
classes -- seriously taking classes: studying, doing homework, all that stuff I should have done the
first time around. Soon after that, my dad started throwing small programming jobs my way. I was well
positioned to finish my degree in short order and have an awesome resume at graduation to boot.
It didn't work out that way, though. I would end up with an awesome resume, but completing my degree
program was complicated by some personal drama between me and the friends I left in Columbus.
It was basically a really messy break up between a husband and wife (both of whom were close friends
of mine). The husband was philandering, and instead of coming clean, he decided to kick his wife out
of their home (it was actually the husband's parent's home) so he could move his new girlfriend in.
And in the meantime the husband had his parents take a weekend trip with the couple's daughter so
that she wouldn't be around when the husband kicked out his wife.
Prior to all of this, the husband bragged to our common friends about what he planned to do: kick the
wife out, give her $500, and give her a car. In his fantasy, the husband thought that the wife would
just leave without a fight and without their daughter, never to return. Well, she did leave without a fight.
She went to Georgia to stay with her family but not without her daughter. I helped her out before she
left, providing moral support and driving her around to run errands (the kick-out car stopped
working). So maybe that's why she called me a few months after her departure from Ohio.
We talked for a few hours. Mostly, we just caught up. We had both been through a lot since she left:
I had to deal with alienation since my friends blamed me for Melissa leaving with her daughter, and
Melissa had to deal with the paranoia evoked by the sudden termination of her relationship with her
husband and trying to find a stable environment for her and her daughter.
Just before that first phone conversation ended, we made plans to continue talking in a couple of
days. She called the next night, and again we talked for more than an hour. And she called the night
after that and so on almost every day for almost two months.
Eventually we decided to get together in person. I drove down to Georgia and met her at a Walmart. We talked about the future. She planned on getting a divorce, obviously. She had been looking for a job, and she was planning on going back to school.
Unfortunately, her plans for herself were put on hold as the family member with whom she had been staying ran into a rough patch, and Melissa had to move again. Maybe I felt a little guilty for not revealing her husband's plans to her before he implemented them, but I decided to help out.
As I progressed through my degree program, my dad started trusting me with larger and larger projects, so I was essentially working part time as a consultant while going to school. Additionally, the money I was pulling in doing business with my dad far exceeded anything I could have done at McDonald's.
In any event, I was in a position to help in a very real way, so I moved to Georgia, and Melissa, her sister, and I rented a place together just south east of Atlanta. It was a pretty good arrangement. Working from home on my dad's projects and taking my classes online, I could help watch Melissa's daughter while she went to work, and the rent was really cheap since the area in which we rented was fairly countrified. Things were going very smoothly.
That is, things were going smoothly until the divorce proceedings started in earnest. The frequency of the hearings started to increase substantially, and every hearing required a trip to Ohio and back again. Neither of our cars were all that reliable, so it became apparent that we couldn't continue living in Georgia.
We decided to move to Kettering. The drive from Kettering to Columbus wasn't nearly as bad as the drive from Stockbridge to Columbus, and I was able to increase my school workload since I could again take classes that weren't online only.
After that, Melissa's divorce proceeded swiftly. The judge blocked Melissa's husband's bid for full custody, and granted Melissa substantial custodial rights. Also, Melissa got her two cats back (her husband had been refusing to allow Melissa to have them since she left them behind).
We both breathed heavy sighs of relief when the divorce was over, and I think that at about the same time we both came to the realization that we had fallen in love.
We stayed in Kettering for a while longer. Melissa had a good job at a daycare, and while my work with my dad had dried up, I had gotten my first big-boy telecommuting sub-contracting gig with a financial company in Elyria.
Unfortunately, the contract expired, and the further work that the contractor had assured me would be there never materialized. Fortunately, the financial company was so impressed with my work that they extended me an offer directly. But I would have to move up to the Cleveland area for the work.
So that's what we did. We moved to Westlake, and rented a house there for about two and a half years. In that time, I finally married Melissa, and we had a son. For the most part, we were very happy living on the North Coast. Unfortunately, a conflict within the management at my company erupted, and rather than be caught in the crossfire, I opted to seek employment elsewhere.
I found a job with a largish IT firm north of Columbus, and we moved down to Blacklick, just east of 270 in the Columbus area. It was a great job. Awesome benefits, great boss, great coworkers, Dance Dance Revolution in the break room. Too bad that gig lasted for only 6 months. In a sudden stroke of insanity, the word came down from the HQ in Parsippany, VA that due to the economic climate, all of the programming staff minus one was to be laid off. On a Friday. Before lunch.
I was not the minus one.
Fortunately, I was only unemployed for one day. One of the clients with whom I had worked with my dad contacted me about doing some work for him on a short term basis. Happily, I latched on while polishing my resume and seeking more permanent employment.
Two months later, I had two firm offers from two different reputable companies, and I was in the enviable position of having to choose between the two. So by December of last year, I was gainfully employed once again!
I'm still working for MAPSYS, I'm still living in Blacklick, I'm still happily married and enjoying the company of my beautiful wife and our lovely children. My daughter is terribly precocious (just charming enough to avoid getting into too much trouble), and my son is a whirlwind of activity and endless moon talk.
I don't know if I'm living the dream, but it feels pretty damn close.
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