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.