Friday, June 24, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
I liked it. It wasn't too hard, and I enjoyed working with my customers. I found satisfaction in helping people get rid of their bug problems and sharing my "bug knowledge." I worked as a technician, manager, owner, and salesman with various companies in various states.
Eventually I wanted to try something new. I was tired of the office politics found in large companies. I was tired of wearing a degrading uniform. I was tired of not being fulfilled in my career. Although I considered being a technician honest work, there were many people who felt I was at the bottom of the social order. Through condescending words, humiliating tasks, and repeated threats, I was constantly reminded of my status. After working nine years as an "exterminator" (I really hate that term) I decided to finish my formal education and start a new path.
I excel in academia. I love attending class, writing papers, learning new thoughts and perspectives, meeting intelligent peers who challenge me in many ways to become a better student. After my acceptance to Columbia, I felt certain that I was a new man and that my technician days were just a stepping stone on the path of life.
But then I needed a job. I searched for seven months to find something, anything, that wasn't pest control. Nothing was offered. With a resume that showed close to eleven years of killing bugs, companies saw me as nothing more than the bug guy. It was not easy looking for a job and explaining to potential employers that I intended to attend school full-time until I graduated. I saw their faces change as they read my resume and came across my history. I needed a job that would value my vast experience, be close to school, allow me to finish my degree, provide health insurance, and still give me the time to be a dad. This was my prayer. This was my intention that I gave to the Universe.
In an attempt to broaden my networking, I talked to my building superintendent last week to see if she knew of any job opportunities within Columbia that I could apply to. She didn't, but she did make another call. She called the pest control company that has the contract for all off-campus University Housing in my neighborhood. They were interested, and I hesitantly sent them my resume because I wasn't too sure that I wanted back into the pest control world. Something amazing happened. Not only were they interested in me, but I was offered a job without a formal interview and started work a few days later based on my experience that they valued. As they have a large contract with Columbia, I am one of four men working full-time here in my neighborhood. They provide health insurance even if I do not work a 40 hour week, and they will schedule all of my work around my classes. I can walk to work, kill some bugs, walk to class, walk back to work, and then walk home at the end of my day to spend time with my boy. They have been great to me. They plan to use me for the "high profile" calls that they get which means that I will get to know some very important members of the Columbia community. With a little luck, I might get a couple of great letters of recommendation for graduate school from some influential people because of this job.
Despite my initial indifference to a life that I thought I had left behind, I was blessed to find a connection that allows me to be a full-time dad and a full-time student. I am grateful for this opportunity. I know that it will not be easy, but I never liked taking the easy road.
Monday, June 13, 2011
People love to give cool things to my son. This morning on our way to the bus stop, we saw the vendor who sells us chicken gyros, and he stopped to buy little man some candy at the newspaper stand. Someone was very happy to get free candy.
I wonder if I can get someone to pay for his college too...
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Tonight is the first night that you are spending at your mother's house, and I thought that it would be so exciting to have this huge bed all to myself, but I have discovered that I cannot sleep without your little feet kicking my back. I want to write you a small note that might capture some of the feelings that I have during this transition.
If the day comes that you stumble upon this blog, scroll through the archives, and find this post, call me. I don't care what time it is or what I may be doing, call me. There is so much that I want to talk with you about, and I am sure that won't change even to the day you are reading this. You might even remember this day. Do you remember when I took you to the Intrepid museum? I am sure that we went many times while living in NYC, but this time was special. When we were getting the tickets, I lied and told them that you were two, so I wouldn't have to pay the $12 to get you in, and you were quick to shout out "No, I'm not two; I'm three!" I won't lie about your age again. We played in the helicopter and rode the bus singing songs all the way home. Do you remember doing that with me?
There are a few things that I am certain about how you will be as an adult; there are a few things that I wonder about your future, and there are many things that I hope you have learned.
I know that you will have many friends. You have a light inside that people are drawn to. I know this not just because I am a proud dad, but because I watch you interact with everyone you meet. You take the time to look people in the eye and say hello. You smile and wave at the people you see, and they smile back at you. Even the grumpy people on the subway that pretend to ignore you eventually fall under your spell by smiling back at you and telling me that you are special. Not only will you have many friends, but you will be an amazing friend to each and every one. Your talent is found in making each person feel special. You have so much love to share, and I know that you will always find someone to share it with. I know that you will be very smart-- smarter than me or your mom. You learn things so quickly that I often feel inadequate in keeping up with your many questions. I know that you have a fantastic smile. Your smile brings a lasting happiness, and I know that it will never fade.
I wonder what sports you will play. Did you decide that you like baseball more than soccer, or have you taken up track because of your endless energy? What college did you decide to go to? I am sure that you had your pick between Princeton and Columbia, but was there another offer? Did you become a Rhodes scholar? What are you studying? What are you reading right now? Do you take your kids to get ice cream cones during evening walks with them? How tall are you? Do you enjoy camping? Has my obsession with Les Miserables inspired you to read Hugo, or did it push you away? Perhaps what I wonder about most is: was I good dad? Did I give you the right balance of love, discipline, and attention? Did we stay friends?
I hope we did.
I hope that you have had your heart broken, but that you have not broken many hearts. I hope that you have moved around a lot and met many people, but that you have a place to call home. I hope you have learned about forgiveness; not for yourself (although that is important), but that you have learned to forgive others. I hope that you don't hold on to the bad things that have happened to you. I hope that you read "Balow, My Boy" and "Soldier and Dog" to your children at night as they cuddle with you in bed. Do you still have that same book I read to you from? I hope that you are safe. I hope that you know that my door and my heart is always open to you.
I love you, son.
ps- you got a funny face!