From Fulfillment to “Providing”
I was really proud of myself. I had just resigned a position with the South Carolina Commission for the Blind because of a bad co-worker and was thinking about the next step.
Granted I had taken a little over a year off but the Commonwealth of Virginia was calling. Even though I had quit I didn’t feel bad about the whole thing because of my last conversation with the boss. You see the counselor I was stuck with was extremely notorious for getting on peoples’ nerves. One other Orientation & Mobility Specialist lasted half a day; I lasted a year and a half. But as I was walking out of the office I hit her with a major suggestion. “Look I know that he’s got connections out the yin/yang being a hometown that really knows how to grow political connections, but he’s the worst person around people I’ve ever encountered. I mean where did he get his degree; the Adolf Hitler School of Counseling and they have him working with kids! Like I said you can’t fire him for any reason and we both know it. But you need to get him away from the clients, so give him a promotion. It doesn’t have to be incredible just enough to get him away from the clients. You know the damage he’s doing and surely in the whole state government you can find a position.”
We had put the house on the market and headed for near home, Asheville. Mom had heart problems so I wanted to be real close for a while. A couple of months later I had given in to my wife’s bitching and got her pregnant. It was the pregnancy from HELL!!! Try seven months of morning sickness with a couple of hospital stays for dehydration. So we had just moved in a bigger apartment as the housing office required. But I was missing my career, I had spent seven years of my life going into Human Services specifically being an Orientation & Mobility Specialist in Blind Rehabilitation. This is a profession that is harder to get into than getting a major degree from MIT. No really. There are only ten colleges that have programs and each only has about fifteen openings; that’s a hundred and fifty openings in the entire country! I enjoyed the variety of the job because I worked with all ages of people. My youngest client was seven months old and the oldest was 96 years old! Also when I found out that I had to do a paper on the Geriatric Blind I did the only statistical population study on the group and published the information in an international journal. Getting fan mail from Europe in the early Eighties was a mind blower. Naturally I subscribed to the O&M job openings from the certifying agency (it’s changed over the years). I learned that the Commonwealth had not one but three openings! When I talked to them it was; “Look, we need your talent and flexibility badly. Come up and we’ll show you the three territories and you can then decide which one you want to work in after you consider the options.”
When I told my wife the wonderful news she was enraged! There was no way that I was going wandering around the state like I had during the summer in South Carolina. When the School for the Blind closed for the summer I was given a itinerant (traveling) position with half the state for a territory. Boy did I travel, 50,000 miles that summer!
Her options for me were simple; get a factory job! Forget everything you’ve worked toward all of these years. So in order to try and support my legally blind wife and son I quit being happy and went to hell for eight years. Because I also like to create things and had my grandfather’s blacksmithing tools I decided to train as a machinist! At least I would be making things. Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy! Do you have any idea what it’s like to be an artist and have to make millions of the same part? When I worked at one job I ran the same machine making four of the same part for eleven months! When I worked at other places I have talked to machinists that made the same part for ten or fifteen years.