55,209,600 seconds – And I Feel Like I Counted ‘Em All

HireMe

22 months to the day.  That’s how long it took.

1 year, 9 months.  15,336 hours.  920,160 minutes.  55,209,600 seconds.

639 days

A long freakin’ time.  And it felt like it, too.

881702_10151487112734793_1668790575_oDuring that time I went through countless minor depressions, a couple of big ones, constant worry, sleepless nights, a diabetes diagnosis, hundreds of disappointing job-related emails, two kegs of beer, about a bottle and a half of 18 year old scotch and bought a dog.

On October 1st, the first day of the twenty-second month of uninterrupted unemployment and about 43 days after I applied, I got hired.  It was also the first day of the government shutdown, so imagine my surprise when I got a call from a government employee telling me that I had been tentatively selected for a government job.  (Turns out that the agency for which I will be working is funded differently and wasn’t affected by the shutdown.  Who knew?)

I tried to remain calm when I got the call and answer the person’s questions accurately without sounding as though I was about to explode, even though I was.  “Yes.  My full name is Daniel James Wolfe.  Yes.  No.  Yes.  Yes, I accept the offer.  I’m on my way to Ohio.  Do I need to turn around and come back?  No?  Ok, then.  Yes.  I’ll expect your email and respond right away.  Of course.  Thank you so much!  I look forward to being part of the team.”

Well, I’ll be damned.

Wallaby Darned.1

Holy crap!

Then I got back on the road continuing my trip home to Ohio trying to concentrate on the road but so horribly/wonderfully distracted by the news that I could think of nothing else.  I really think I was in shock.  No exaggeration.  I didn’t believe it.

Hired

Before too long, I decided that I was so distracted and probably a road hazard, in my case an unguided 70-mile-per-hour Prius Missile.  (Kind of like a Tomahawk Cruise Missile, but WAY more eco friendly.)  

I was hungry anyway, so I pulled off and stumbled across a buffet restaurant next to a reasonably priced (read cheap) Holiday Inn Express.  I had an early dinner and then decided I wasn’t getting back on the road so I checked in to a hotel room with a Jacuzzi tub and decided to treat myself to a nice long bubbly soak and an early bedtime.

First thing upon entering the room was to boot the MacBook Pro and get connected.  Worst hotel Wi-Fi EVER!  They should have gotten a nastygram from me, but hey, I just got a job!  I didn’t care.

I set my computer up and my first thought after the Jacuzzi tub loosened my muscles and my upper bicuspids was “Time to do job applications.”  As they say, old habits die hard. 

Ha!  Not tonight, bitches!

But of course, the “what if’s” got me and all I could think about was “What if this falls through?  I’d better keep up my routine just in case.  I mean, it ain’t real until the first paycheck arrives.

“Ding!”

New e-mail notification.  It’s from the aforementioned government worker (A VERY professional and pleasant woman, by the way, lest you think I’m disparaging a faceless, nameless person.  I’m just respecting her privacy.)  It’s the “official” tentative selection notification with a form to fill out and return.

Ok, now this felt a little more official and a little more real.  After all, I now had something in black and white that confirmed the earlier phone call.  I reviewed the form and returned it as fast as I could, not worrying about appearing too eager even though I was.  (In my haste, I discovered a day later that I had made an error and had to send in a corrected form.  Honesty is the best policy and all that, right?)

“Ding!”

Another email from my new best friend, the nice government employee saying that she’d received the email and the completed form and that the security manager would be in touch.

I slept like the dead that night.

I woke up the next morning with the usual sad sigh that I had been sighing for the previous 639 days.  It took a few groggy minutes, but I eventually realized that I didn’t have to do that any more – at least tentatively.  I got up, showered, took advantage of the free and relatively flavorless breakfast in the lobby of the hotel and proceeded toward Ohio where I subsequently arrived and began writing this note.

Trying to keep the faith over 638 days of being told “no” is a difficult task.  Perhaps my years of auditioning as an actor in Hollywood and being rejected literally hundreds of times helped to handle the sheer volume of job rejection notices I’ve received.  I think that’s part of it.  But much of it came from the support of family, friends and others who kept telling me it was just a matter of time.  They all helped me to keep the faith and to keep plugging away at it.

vec_logoI also was required to take two job search seminars from the Virginia Department of Employment Services.  What I expected to be a bureaucratic bunch of bull turned out to be extremely valuable and marked the turning point in bettering my chances of success.  One other big lesson from all this: Bureaucracies aren’t all bad and sometimes the people who work in big bureaucracies DO care.  I offer a big thank you to the people at the Alexandria office and to one of their instructors in particular.  I wish I had her name handy, but unfortunately I don’t.  Her advice was invaluable in turning things around for me.

One person, though, was most directly affected by all of this and I want to be specific and thank my son, Andy.  Andy had his appendix out a few weeks back, and as I was traveling up to Alaska to visit him during his recovery, I got the call for the job interview for this job about which I’m writing.  I rescheduled my return trip to accommodate the interview (at considerable expense) but that meant I still had to create a 5-7 minute presentation for the interview.  I had to do that while I was in Alaska and away from all of my archives on CD. Preparing that presentation took a substantial amount of time away from Andy and he was kind enough and understanding enough to say “Call me when you’re done with your presentation and we’ll get together then.”  He was very gracious in giving me ample time to square it away.

And to Beth Geyer, my significant other, who waded through all my old archive data CD’s, put them one by one in a computer in Virginia and waited patiently so that I could download from Alaska all the stuff I needed for the presentation.  You also share in the success of the presentation and in the positive outcome of the interview.

And to my former employer and friend Ron Newlan, who was gracious enough to give me a great recommendation when contacted for a reference by the selecting authority.  Couldn’t have done it without you!

To both Beth and Andy, thank you!  I love you both and would not be writing this without you.

To all of you I leaned on for support, thank you!

So hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go – at least tentatively.  But it’s looking good.

Day 640 is no longer day 640.  It’s day one.

 

Footnotes:

1.  This is a Wallaby Darned:

Peach flavored frozen drink from Outback Steak House.  No real relation to the story.  It just popped in my head when I typed "Well, I'll be damned."

Peach flavored frozen drink from Outback Steak House. No real relation to the story. It just popped in my head when I typed “Well, I’ll be damned.”

 

 

2:55 am

Woke up a bit ago cause I was hungry. Got a small snack and I’m listening to the nearby freight trains doing their switching or whatever it is they do. Fostoria is still a big railroad town as I think I mentioned before. Even after all the years living elsewhere, hearing the trains at night is like a comfort to me. It’s how I know I’m home.

Even in Virginia. On those nights when the humidity seems oppressive, I can sometimes hear the trains there too. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, it brings me right back here to this town and this house.

Mom and Dad moved here in 1970 and lived here ever since. It saddens me to think about someone else living here someday and that I won’t have access to the comfort of moments like these anymore. But I guess I’ve been fortunate enough to have this available to me for the last forty plus years. I’ve always appreciated it when I’m here. I just know I’ll miss it someday. But not tonight.

Another Facebook Rant

It’s time for a rant and my rants mean run-on sentences.  Grammar police, you might want to look away.

I’m not going to single anyone out but yes, I’m going to bitch about something that some of you like to do that just completely pisses me off.

Yes, I see your status update, and I’m delighted that you have chosen to post something for an hour in support of some probably worthwhile cause, but I am not going to repost it.  Failing to repost it is not meant to imply that I…

a.) Don’t care.
b.) Am a racist.
c.) Don’t support beating cancer. (Who LIKES cancer?)
d.) Am a Republican.
e.) Am a Democrat.
f.) Am a Libertarian.
g.) Am Gay.
h.) Am Straight.
i.) Am Asexual, Bisexual or Trisexual. (Figure that one out, wise guys!)
j.) Prefer Picard to Kirk.
k.) Prefer Kirk to Picard.
l.) Prefer TOS vs. TNG vs. DS9 vs. Voyager vs. Enterprise vs. J. J. Abrams’s Star Trek
m.)  Approve of any combination of l.) above.

So don’t infer it.

I will support you to the extent that I’m able and to the extent that I give a shit, but the one way I will NOT is to repost anything and everything that looks like a good cause, because I’m just not interested in spending that much time administering my Facebook status and besides I’m just generally not that fucking interested in the first place.

Repost this as your status if you agree.  If you don’t, you’re a jackass.

Facebook Humor Worth Repeating

Mike Downs at the Saudi version of the Grand Canyon an hour and change outside Riyadh.

Mike Downs at the Saudi version of the Grand Canyon an hour and change outside Riyadh.

Posted on Facebook by my friend, Mike Downs, with whom I served in Saudi Arabia in 2001-2001:

One morning, a grandmother was surprised to find that her 7-year-old grandson had made her coffee! Smiling, she choked down the worst cup of her life. When she finished, she found three little green Army men at the bottom. Puzzled, she asked, “Honey, what are these Army men doing in my coffee?” Her grandson answered, “Like it says on TV, Grandma…The best part of waking up is soldiers in you’re cup! Re-Post if you smiled….You know you did.

Commander Robert P. Moran, December 23, 1939 – September 6, 2011

BobMoranCommander Bob Moran passed away earlier this week. While I didn’t spend a great deal of time with Bob over the years, my interactions with him always seemed to indicate that if circumstances were different, we would have been fast friends. He was an outstanding officer and a terrific person as well. He will be missed by those of us who were privileged to know him, even casually.

Here’s his obit republished from the Ventura County Star:

Robert “Bob” Paul Moran peacefully passed away on Sept. 6, 2011, in his Moorpark home of 31 years, with his loving family at his bedside. He was 71 years old. Bob was born in Somerville, Mass., the son of Phyllis V. Moran and Robert A. Moran. He was preceded by his parents and only brother, Philip A. Moran.

He is survived by his longtime spouse and best friend, Antonia “Toni” for over 36 years. He has five daughters, Phyllis Alexius (husband Eric), Julie Moran (partner Sherri Johnson), Tammy Moran (partner Raul Polit), Kerri Moran (fiancee Tyler Murphy) and Nicole Moran (partner Andy Keller). He is also survived by five grandchildren: John Piccoli, Christine Piccoli, Danielle DeVold, Raphye Alexius, Taylor Martinez, and one great-grandchild, Kayla Piccoli.

Bob graduated from Sacred Heart High School in Cambridge, Mass., on May 25, 1958. On completion of high school, he enlisted in the US Navy and served on active duty for more than seven years. He qualified as a submariner and served on numerous nuclear submarines as an electrician’s mate. His duties included Nuclear and Plant Operator, Maneuvering Area Watch, and Qualification Petty Officer. He left active serve as Lead Petty Officer in 1968 as EM1SS. His enlisted rate was E1 through E6. He applied for affiliation with the Naval Reserve Service and was commissioned Lt Jg USNR in 1973 after completing Officer Candidate School. He continued his Naval Reserve career for another 26 plus years. He left the Naval Reserve as a Commander in 2005.

Bob was Commanding Officer of two reserve units and Executive Officer of several more. His active duty assignments included naval shipyards where he was involved in surface ship combat testing and INSERV teams. He served on various assignments at NAVSEA headquarters in Washington, D.C., including the reactivation of the battleships. He was invited to join his grandson, John, who also followed in his footsteps in the Navy on two Tiger cruises on the USS Enterprise CVN65.
Bob’s other career also included employment with Raytheon, ITT Gilfillen, Teledyne, Litton and Northup Grumman. Bob earned his B.S. Degree in Engineering from Lowell Technological Institute while working at Raytheon Company in Lowell, Mass. He advanced in various management positions at Raytheon while furthering his education by earning his Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) at New Hampshire College.

In 1980, he relocated to Southern California again rising to numerous management positions at ITT Gilfillan and Teledyne Systems Company. Teledyne Co. was acquired by Litton which was later acquired by Northrop Grumman. Bob’s reputation for outstanding engineering and management leadership skills always made him part of the executive team that moved between the new companies. He was very well-respected for his ability to quickly grasp a difficult situation, take charge and resolve the problem. His work ethic and tenacity served him well during his civilian career while simultaneously serving as a senior officer in a U.S. Navy.

He officially retired May 1, 2011, from Northrup Grumman in Woodland Hills, Calif. On a personal note, Bob learned early in life that he had a gift for tinkering with cars. He never thought twice about befriending a stranger on the side of the road, because he knew he could help. He loved spending time with his wife and children making time for special family trips, always making sure to video tape every moment. He was a loving and caring person with a great sense of humor and was loved by all who knew him. He had a flamboyant way of telling a story or sharing a joke. He was a fearless expressive individual who was a great encourager and motivator with an endless supply of wisdom. Bob was especially proud of his children and grandchildren and their accomplishments in their lives. His love and memories will be forever in our hearts and he will be deeply missed.

The family extends a special thank you to: George and Raphael from Lincare for all your care and support; Cathy Hines from Los Robles Physical Therapy for pushing Bob to exercise; Dr. Starr and staff, Rick Leon for your comfort; Jim and staff at Costco Simi Valley pharmacy; UCLA, Dr Saggar, Eileen and Paul for always giving us hope; Dr. Ghelani for your kindness and patience;and Finally, Buena Vista Hospice Nurses and Staff- Our family cannot thank them enough for their kindness, generosity and comfort given to Bob and our family during this difficult time.

A Visitation will take place at the Griffin Family Funeral Home, 101 East Wilbur Rd., Thousand Okas, CA 91360, from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9. Additional services will take place at the M.R. Laurin & Son Funeral Home, Lowell, Mass., with final interment at Puritan Lawn Memorial Park in Peabody, Mass. Please visit www.LaurinFuneralHome.com for Guestbook.

In lieu of flowers, please send your donations to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 811 West Evergreen Avenue Suite 204, Chicago, IL 60642, www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org, or National Military Family Association, 2500 North Van Dorn St. Suite 102, Alexandria, VA 22302-1601, www.militaryfamily.org.

Random Thoughts

1. I want a new phone, but I don’t need one.

2. Spell check saves my ass all the damn time.

3. Cellular networks are great when they work. They just don’t very often.

4. Whimsy is a good thing.

5. Why would anyone describe himself or herself as having “dirty blonde” hair? I mean I get it, but yikes, seems as though dirty blonde hair needs a shampooing. At least that’s what it brings to my alleged mind.

6. My dog is TOO charming. He cannot be resisted. He’s like a dolphin — no matter how lousy he feels, he still has that damned built-in smile.

7. Bill Gates is truly evil. But only because I didn’t think of Microsoft first.

8. Relationships are like long distance telephone calls. Sometimes the connection is clear. Other times, it’s noting but static. (I wrote this back in the days before digital transmission, so without the technological context, it’s getting to be a senseless observation.)

9. DailyPuppy.com.

10. I don’t feel empathy for the people who refuse to put their social security number on stuff. Shoot, the government has my DNA on file. Talk about the ultimate invasion of privacy. Hey, maybe they’ll clone me! You’re never alone with a clone.

11. I’m an ENFP.

12. I like Star Trek way too much.

13. Most useless piece of advice I ever got from my Dad when I got married the first time: “Make sure to dry under your wedding ring when you get out of the shower or it’ll get nasty.”

14. Cheddar cheese pretzel pieces and Diet Pepsi do not constitute lunch.

15. Except for today.

16. Staple removers look like X-wing fighters from Star Wars when you squeeze them together.

17. I am only a passing Star Wars fan.

18. The Associated Press Style Guide is my friend.

19. Diet Pepsi and cheddar cheese pretzel pieces make a lousy lunch.

20. Cheddar cheese pretzel pieces and Diet Pepsi do not taste better coming up than going down. (Just kidding about that one. Just thought it would be fun to keep the running gag going.)

21. At what point does persistence cross the line into futility?

22. My dog can catch a Frisbee out of the air. He also smells his own butt, so he can’t be all that clever. But he is, for a dog.

23. Rubber cement is not intended for cementing rubbers.

24. I have subscribed to Scientific American since college.

25. Music was my first means of performance and it still stands as the most satisfying intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Acting is a close second, but there’s more ego feeding involved than genuine satisfaction.

26. Etiquette: Does one take out one’s hearing aids before having sex? Or after?

27. I cross my little toes when I am lying down with no shoes or socks on.

28. What is the attraction with long walks on the beach? Didn’t anyone ever pour sand out of their shoes? And what if you want to get physical on the beach? Sheesh… Sand is the ultimate anti-aphrodisiac. You want an aphrodisiac? Try two nights at the Ritz-Carlton with room service. Or first-class tickets to Paris. I’d wiggle right out of my panties for an offer like that.

29. You know what might be really hilarious? Put porn on the TV, turn down the sound, and put play-by-play sports on for the audio track.

30. Shouldn’t Santa bring you better presents if you’ve been naughty?

31. The object above the ceiling fan that protects the ceiling is called a medallion.

32. The recurring dream I experience most often occurs usually every few months. It is usually different, but nearly always involves my return to Valley Forge Military Academy as an adult student.

33. The second most recurring theme in my dreams is that I am a witness to an air disaster of some sort.

34. I used to practice lucid dreaming. It was one of the more exciting experiences of my life.

35. It’s raining in Virginia.

36. I wish I were there to experience the rain.  I rather enjoy bad weather.  It’s more interesting.

37. Peanut Buster Parfaits are the only really good reason to go to Dairy Queen. Except in Fostoria, Ohio.

38. The Dairy Queen in Fostoria, Ohio has looked the same for at least 45 years.

39. I like even numbers.

40. More than odd.

41. Forty-one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. (Apologies to Three Dog Night.)

42. I used to be a HUGE General Hospital fan.

43. A writer once named his cat Typo. What a great name for a cat!

44. Pencils are much more practical than pens, but it’s harder to clean your ears with a pencil.

45. Bureaucracies exist solely for the sustainment of the bureaucracy.

46. Whoever said, ” is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.” never had sex while clothed.

47. I ate lunch in the same room as Supreme Court Justice David Souter once.

48. I was up on the Hill once with my boss and sat in the same room with Hilary Clinton, Joe Lieberman and a bunch of other big wheels. Pretty cool.

49. Military time, as in the 24-hour clock instead of the AM/PM thing, makes more sense.

50. Lava lamps are cool.

51. Lava is not.

52. I don’t remember if I used to number these or not.

53. Quantification of work produced is only one measure of success.

54. Sometimes I just make shit up. But not in random thoughts.

55. I have memorized pi to 16 decimal places. Without Googling it, it is 3.1415926535897932. Look it up and tell me if I remember this factoid correctly.

56. Is “factoid” really a word?

57. I could never even manage a bad Casey Kasem impression.

58. Is it rude to write email while sitting on the toilet?

59. This is not Twenty Questions.

60. Is this sentence a question.

Sales Pitch, Personal Edition

I had to write a quick professional summary for LinkedIn.com. Here’s what came of that endeavor:

I’ve been lucky.

They say it’s better to be lucky than good. I’ll take lucky.

I’ve been afforded amazing opportunities both in the military and in industry, and enjoyed some degree of success in both. I retired as a colonel in the Army after a 28 year career that took me all over the world. Thanks to the Army, I’ve seen the sun rise and set in such places as Saudi Arabia, Alaska and Belgium. And they’ve let me do some amazing jobs over the years.

In Los Angeles in between military assignments, the technology of the entertainment industry – television in particular – paid the bills as I struggled to build a career as an actor. I was fortunate to work with some true professionals at ABC Television, E! Entertainment Television and MTV and others. In front of the camera, I got to appear in a few TV commercials and the occasional feature film.

Yeah, it was luck. No one gets to do such cool stuff if you’re not at least a little bit lucky.

As for goals? I believe I can sum it up like this:

Interest me. Challenge me. I’ll deliver.

Best,

Dan