Monday, February 26, 2007

Take the risk!

So a friend of mine is thinking of taking a new job in another state. She’s a bit nervous about it: taking a new job far away from home can be nerve racking and tough: will you make it? What happens if….?

Her prospect reminded me of the choices I’ve made. Thus far in life, I can honestly say I’ve never really regretted any of the big moves I’ve made. And in fact, some of the most desparate moves have turned out to be some of the best experiences.

Case in point: Right after I finished college, but before I went to graduate school, I had honestly no-fucking-clue what was gonna happen to me. I had no immediate job prospect, no where to really go live, and no way was I gonna stay in River Falls Wisconsin.

In a chance conversation with this other geology grad at my school, he mentioned going out to Denver to look for a job. I didn’t know the guy really that well, but I didn’t have anything else going on and I thought “what the hell…”

I packed up a backpack of clothes, and left my apartment in River Falls, I stayed at a friends house in Minneapolis until we were ready to go, and took off.

The geologist guy who drove out there (I didn’t own a car at the time), Tim, mentioned that he knew the rugby coach for the Colorado school of mines….on the morning we actually arrived in Denver, it turned out that Tim had the inter-collegiate directory of rugby leagues, and just randomly called the coach from a pay telephone at a gas station.

Since Tim played rugby at school, he just figured in his head that the coach of the school of mines would just let us live with him – no questions asked. Amazingly, the coach actually DID. Tim was a total fuck-up, and he would only get worse as I soon found out.

We moved into a spare bedroom with the coach, slept on the guys floor, and I called S. Morrice & Associates, an oil company that I had had an AAPG internship with the previous summer. One of the geologists at the company said that while they didn’t have any job openings, we were welcome to use their office conference room, the fax machine, and a spare computer to look for a job.

(On a Side note, the people who helped me at S. Morrice were some of the nicest and best people I’ve ever met. Despite not having a job, they hooked me up with a desk, a phone, unlimited use of the fax machines, etc..)

So there I was, a week out of school, my last $200 dwindling fast, sleeping on the floor of some random guy’s house, and in the daytime, searching for a job constantly at my former employer.

I felt pretty shitty. Tim was a fucking asshole, I didn’t own a car, I didn’t have any money, and I was leeching off of someone I had never met. Tim would drive us to the office, yell a lot, and overall just be a total dick about everything.

After about 2 weeks, the Coach from the school of mines asked us to leave (can’t blame him). I had just found a job, but because of how the job worked, I wouldn’t be paid until the beginning of the following month.

At nearly the same time, Tim had threatened to kick my ass for something, and steal all my shit. I had to get the fuck away from him, but I had nowhere to go, and only about $150. Tim is kind of a long story, but suffice it to say, I had to get away from him ASAP. Now, I wouldn’t walk across the street to piss in that motherfucker’s mouth if his teeth were on fire.

Luckily, I had JUST met this kid (Rob, another person who I owe a lot to) who was working at an internship for another oil company here in Denver, and to get away from Tim, with no money, I swallowed my last bit of pride and begged this kid to let me stay on his couch until I could get paid.

This was the catch though:

I couldn’t move in until after the weekend because the guy wouldn’t be home. This meant that I was completely homeless for a weekend. I had NO money, nowhere to go, and no prospects.

The previous summer, my Denver internship only paid $3.50 per hour, and I ended up living at a long-term shelter for the poor ($11.99 per week!) That’s another long story…that was a fucking crazy summer.

Anyhow, nowhere to go, nowhere to stay, no money, no car, nothing, just me and my backpack stashed at the office. I thought if it really came back to it, I could walk back up to the shelter and stay there for a few nights.

So what did I do? I asked out the secretary at S. Morrice and Associates. I didn’t own a car, so I told her I’d meet her downtown, and we could go to the art museum (luckily, it was free on weekends). We walked around for the day, and eventually went back to her place that night, got a pizza and watched a movie (I can’t remember to be sure, but I think she paid).

I actually fell asleep on her living room floor and woke up that morning, back hurting and cramped up….but I had managed to find a place to stay for that one night, and I met someone who was and is the awesome-est person on the planet.

That morning, I felt kinda weird, because she told me she’d drop me off where I lived, but instead I think I said something like “oh I’m supposed to meet someone for breakfast”…and I had her drop me off on east Colfax street, a major street in Denver, where I walked around and waited to get into that guys house.

I managed to survive for over a month on about $200 and no where to live. I managed to find both a job and wife – I eventually married that chick that let me stay on her floor when I was homeless once.

The moral of this story: ALWAYS take the risk, don’t be afraid of the world around you. One day you might find yourself walking the street homeless, but in the end, it might help bring together one of the most important parts of your life.

And since that time, my wife and I have moved from Denver, to Las Vegas, to Minneapolis, to Mississippi, and back to Denver. Each time it seemed to be a big risk, but none of it was a mistake. Sometimes we really struggled, but lately it’s been only getting better.

I’d never in a million years change what I’ve done.


Karen said...

Great story. Hard to believe.
One thing, um, I wasn't a "secretary" I was an "administrative assistant."

Anonymous said...

I understand you. I moved sticks from Spain to England in 94 to do engineering, then with a wife from England to Nova Scotia in 04 to study Geology, and since February 07 I have been working in a drill project by Superior, whilst wife and kid stay in N.S. It is tough, it has its moments, but the people I work with are great, the job experience is great, the geology is fantastic, and the scenery around Superior is primeval. I ride a snowmobile to work.

And I get paid for it.

It is very tough with the family at the moment, but I think it is worth it long term.