Sunday, March 24, 2013

But For The Grace of God

The night is cold, snowy and generally very Northern Illinois-like.  It is the night before M and I start our journey west.  We've done this once before, but this time we do not intend to turn back.  There are many things going through my mind, but remarkably there are many things that are not.  I am mildly curious why this is so.  I should feel something.  Fear, elation, stress.  Yet I don't feel any of these.  I suppose I can say I am just ready to make this shot.  But for those who don't know the whole story, allow me to digress.

I am 40 years old.  I have, with the exception of 5 years of my life, lived in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.  I have grown up here.  At 14 I started my working life, answering phones and slapping out pizzas at Domino's.  Over the ensuing years I had a long career as a computer/telecommunications technician which fell apart once everyone realized the world didn't end in 2000.  I burn through my savings trying to survive.  I then reinvented myself as an aircraft dispatcher which I did for most of the next 13 years, with 6 years in between as a 911 dispatcher.  Both of those careers ended in spectacularly disappointing fashion.  Having bought a house who's value subsequently collapsed taking $22000 of cash and $60000+ of equity down the drain with it, I have, literally, nothing left.  Luckily, I have some cash in hand from again burning up my retirement, selling my motorcycle and hopefully soon some money from the bank as a "thank you" for quietly vacating our newly foreclosed on house, though I have become suspicious of everything until I see it, lately.

After the last few years and the murder of two promising careers in three years, I have become a different man.  I am old school.  I am the kind of person who, when it comes to business, will look you in the eye and tell you what I must.  I have a character trait that has me trust that a man's word is his bond.  It's the way I was raised, it's how I am.  If I asked you if we had a problem and you said we did not, I trust you're being honest.  Never would I consider embracing a co-worker while aiming a knife at his back.  Unfortunately, this trait has allowed me to be blindsided at times such as now.  My trust in my co-workers to be honest in one case, and my trust in my superiors to be honest in the other.

A few months before the airline I worked for fired everyone and shut the doors, I started looking around for my next big dispatching opportunity.  I've been doing this for many years.  At my last gig I was a manager and ultimately a director, albeit for a very short time.  This unique professional resume has rendered me in a perfect storm.  I'm overqualified for one job, under-qualified for another.  I either go back to the very beginning of this career line after 13 years and start from scratch, or I starve my family to death waiting for a break I will likely never see.  To start again would mean I might never be able to provide the stability and life my family deserves.  Beyond that, I'm simply tired.  I'm tired of being at the mercy of so many variables I cannot control.  Though this is true of all professions, the airline industry is unique in many ways.  As a dispatcher at a regional, I am subjected to the whims of management, the management of the airline that contracts us, the leinholders, oil prospectors, and any other of a hundred things that change the cost of running the company.  Airlines are seniority driven.  I start at the bottom.  If I move to a new airline, I start at the bottom.  I'm at the age where I would need to consider that wherever I am, there I must stay, for the sake of health, retirement, education of my son.  In short, I am too old to bounce around from airline to airline hoping to get the nod from a "major" where I can make my stand.  I took my shot, and I missed.  So anyway, I had a few prospects that I was looking at, but one in particular I was interested in was in Las Vegas.  Unfortunately, the pay to start wasn't fantastic, so I started to think about ways to supplement that income.  One of those things I looked into was dealing.  I did some research, made some contacts and visited LV to talk to some of them and discovered that not only is it a job that the people that do it enjoy, but they also make a decent wage doing it.  My wheels started turning but I wasn't really seriously thinking about it until a few months went by and no airlines were calling me for interviews.  There were plenty of copies of my resume out there, but it just seemed no one was interested in a management dispatcher with but a couple of months of management experience.  Not enough experience to be a manager, and hesitation to hire a former director as a line dispatcher.  Perfect storm of suck.  As I mulled over this hurdle, the bomb dropped where I worked.  I was suddenly unemployed.

Cut to now.  After a quick consultation with a friend in Vegas, I have enrolled in a poker dealer class with the short term goal being a gig dealing the 2013 World Series of Poker.  I will parlay this with also learning how to deal craps and blackjack so that when the WSoP gig ends I can work both of those skill sets to quickly land something.

So, in 10 hours time I embark on the next stage of my life.  I feel anxious, hoping that M and I can get things going quickly when we arrive.  We must find a place to live, M must find full time work very quickly.  These are both challenges.  I feel hopeful that I can rediscover what I lost so many years ago.  On the surface and in the immediacy, I am doing this to give my family the best shot to not only survive but thrive.  On a deeper level, I am embarking on a journey to find myself.  Anyone who has known me since I was a teenager knows that I am not the man I was.  I want to feel again.  I want to experience joy, excitement, anticipation.  I want to feel alive.  I want to breathe deep the world around me, feel its energy.

"Fortune favors the bold" wrote Virgil.  It's time to be bold.