Monday, May 4, 2009

The Events which led me to say Fuck Off to everything, I'll just go back to school Dammit!

by 13 Stoploss

When I came home, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go back to school right away. Mrs. 13 was in her last semester at Chapman University, finishing her teaching credential. As such, the priority was for her to finish her schooling, a product of VA Chapter 31 – Vocational Rehabilitation, and for me to get a job to keep us, and our $1500 a month rent, afloat.

It took me five weeks from the time I got home from the Army to find a job. Not much was available, and my skills and contacts were limited, to say the least. One of the jobs I had applied to asked me to a final interview. It was a driver/delivery position for the Orange County Department of Education, and the job description implied delivering mail and school supplies to various schools across the county. It paid well enough, and had attractive benefits—perfect for what I considered to be a relatively short-term job while the Missus finished her schooling. The other job was an inside sales position, selling travel incentives, working alongside one of my best friends from High School. On the job training was given, the atmosphere and coworkers were supposed to be wonderful, and while the benefits were not great, the pay had a base plus 10% commission structure.

The idea of reacquainting with a good friend was appealing, but I really wanted the security and benefits of the driver job. In the end, it appeared the OCDE hiring crew already had their stooge, and I was just an ancillary number in the process to meet their “fair hiring” regulations. A few days later, my buddy’s boss called me up to offer me the sales job. With nothing else on the horizon, I went to the Men’s Wearhouse for a suit, and prepared to translate my ASIP FM Radio Skills into cold-calling sales-monsterness.

I held onto that shitty job for close to nine months, becoming a person I was ashamed of. It was more of a testament to endurance, doing what I had to do for my family than anything else. I certainly didn’t enjoy my time there, and envisioned myself a modern version of the father in “Death of a Salesman.”

To cope with the stress of still getting up every morning to do something I hated, I registered with my local Community College, and began taking online classes. My breaks and lunches were spent devouring the required texts. I worked feverishly to master the given subjects, and earn the grade for work I was proud to turn in. Ok, so I was already an expert in my music class, “History of Rock,” but for once, I worked hard and felt rewarded for my effort—something neither the Army, nor a lousy sales job could give me. I similarly kicked ass in my Political Science and Geography courses, and relished in the fact that with my eArmyU credits, was now a quarter finished with my Community College transfer plan without ever having stepped foot into a classroom.

In October 2007, there was a pretty big fire across the street from where I lived, and more down near the border. In fact, it seemed all of Southern California was on fire. As a result, my Governator activated the National Guard, and I was alerted to duty to assist with the wildfires. I received the call while at work, and went into the office manager’s room with the news. My verbal orders stated I would be gone for approximately 10-21 days, and a paper order would come as soon as it was published. In the meantime, my unit was already forming and readying equipment; I was still fifty miles from duty location, and headed home early as I was assured that all was well, and I had to do as ordered.

The short version of the story is that very late that same evening, I was relieved from duty because of a previous medical condition. I figured I would, in the least, be a radio bitch, or work in the BN TOC; instead, I was sent home in the early AM hours. Having busted my one-armed ass helping PCC/PCI the Company’s working trucks, and COMMO equipment (that no one else seemed to know how to work), I decided not to go into my sales job work that morning, as I had just got home only hours previous.

Around ten that morning, I was in the Doctor’s office with my eighteen-month old son when my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, and checked the voicemail a few minutes later. It was the Canadian CEO of my civilian job—he wanted me to call him back on his personal cell number when I got the chance.

Thirty minutes later, I call him up, and he fires me on the phone. I asked him why, and he fumbled around for a bit, saying that since I didn’t show up this morning, he didn’t want me back. I asked him if he knew that I had been activated by the National Guard, and he said he was told about it, but didn’t know what that was, and didn’t care. I was still fired.



bigD said...

Hi Jason,
I have been reading right along everything you have been writing on both blogs. :) Things have been really busy with my son this past week, but, he is finally home from the hospital today after almost two months!

I just wanted to let you know that I haven't quite figured out what to say about your "In Dreams" post. That one was pretty heavy duty and I am still pondering. For this post I would say, I am glad you chose to go back to school and pursue a journalism degree. You are an intelligent guy with so much to offer and you have learned that learning can be a wonderful thing to experience. Of course, school work can majorly get on your nerves after a while, but, compared to what you have been through, it must seem like a piece of cake.

Don't get to upset with the other moronic student types in your classes. They will never understand the work ethic that you now have and they will never appreciate how great it is to be a student and just live your life. I am pretty sure you are light years ahead of most of your contemporaries in terms of how you view life and how you gauge what it truly important!

It sucks that this stupid CEO guy fired you over the phone like that for no good reason. But, it sounds like he did you a huge favor! You did what you had to do at the time and now you are moving forward with your plan to make a better lifer for yourself and your family. I am happy for you and cannot wait to hear how you like your classes at UC Irvine.

P.S. - I am sure I missed it somewhere...but, how did you break your arm?? Ouch, that looks painful!

P.S.S. - How's Mrs. 13 doing? Hope you and family are all doing well. Take care Jason.

Rich said...

Hi Jason, I enjoyed the story about you going to school, getting activated by the guard, and then your boss fires you (Bummer) The writing is good. I will look forward to reading more of your stuff
I am a Disabled Vietnam Veteran, check out my page at:
Good Job

Anonymous said...

Hello, Jason,
I'm sorry you're getting yanked around by fate. A Canadian ceo may not be the most sympathetic type in your circumstance...That doesn't make it right, but it's not unpredictable. It takes a while to get a groove going and stay on the beat out here. I know that sooner rather than later you'll have assholes like that eating out of your hand, but right now you need some luck and some mercy. Just hang in there, kid, you got the right spirit, it'll work out, I promise!! z

13 Stoploss said...


The CEO asswipe did me a big favor, and I'll touch on that in a few.

Maybe I'll also write about how I broke my arm--that's a good story, too.

Family is well. I'm assembling a bunkbed for little 13 tomorrow, and he's sooo excited because it has stairs and bookshelves. Did a lot of moving this weekend, in addition to finishing up a bunch of essays for finals. One bookshelf to the office; sanded and lacquered two corner cabinets my great grandfather built, and put them in my bedroom. Treadmill moved from the office to the garage, and need to get another desk for the office.

One final down this morning, another in 3 hours, and the last on Wednesday. After that, it's a free summer, with some backpacking in late June, and a new addition to the 13 Family due in early August!


Thanks for stopping by. Please, do check out my other blog--that story will continue later this week after my finals.


Thanks for the kind words. The truth of the matter is that the Canadian CEO did something illegal, and I should have pursued it in court. But, yes, I'm way better for being out of that dump...

Anonymous said...

Mind if I ask what your major is? Or what you are shooting for in the long term (education wise).


13 Stoploss said...

Literary Journalism, and if I'm lucky, Photography.