I used to have a “real” job during the 80s and 90s. I worked for a pipeline company, at one of their compressor stations. Natural gas would come into the station via several large diameter pipes, enter large natural gas compressor engines, it was then compressed and pressurized and then discharged to continue its journey north, or sometimes be injected into large underground storage facilities. I spent 15 years with that pipeline company, and then during the economic downturn of the mid 90s, 25 or so of us lost our jobs. You’ve heard the term – downsized, another word for being laid off, permanently.
And so began my journey of what is known as a “stay-at-home dad.” And I loved it! Once my two kids were in school, I decided that I’d go back to school myself and in 2006 I graduated from Slippery Rock University with a degree in English, Creative Writing. At the time I thought a degree in writing would be beneficial and I didn’t think I’d have any trouble finding a full-time job editing or writing about gardening and/or maybe music. I was wrong! It’s been a struggle ever since and I continue to think that I should have stuck with my first major – information technology.
But as we all know, what’s done is done and I can’t turn back the hands of time. Losing that job with the pipeline company was traumatic; it paid well, had great benefits, and had us on what we thought was the highway to the high life, or at least a solid means of buying or building a new house, paying off a new car or two, and saving enough money to put our kids through college.
17 years later and I’m still struggling. But I’m not complaining. I realize millions of folks are in worse shape than I’m in. I’ve always told my kids to never walk backwards, because more often than not you end up stepping in the same mess you just walked away from. It’s a cliché but life is a journey, and you either hang on for the ride or get thrown off.
I started a new job recently, it involves people and plants – two things I love being around. I’ll reveal more details later, there’s a 90 day probationary period and I don’t want to announce anything permanent just yet. It’s been a while since I’ve had a “real” job, and readjusting is taking some time. But as my oldest son’s friend always says about tough chores: “It ain’t no hill for a climber.”