Monday, August 10, 2009

Things to be Happy About: Part 1

A couple of weekends ago, Jen, the boys and I took a trip up to Lake Erie to relax and just BE for once, without running around or feeling like we have to accomplish something on the never-ending list of things to do.

Jenn surprised me by bringing along a book titled "14,000 Things to be Happy About," and had me read some entries out loud while she drove. It was a fun process and got us talking about what makes us happy...the little things. It's nice to think about those things in our own lives to keep us centered.

It's been a long, rough 6 months for me and my family, so we decided to blog our own lists. This is a short list, and I will add more in new entries over time.

So here it is: Greg's

Things to be Happy About:
  • New school supplies. Weird thing to start out with, I know, but 'tis the season. I love the sound and smell of brand new notebooks and pens, and picking out exactly what you need. No, we aren't in need of anything right now, but Evan is, and it's fun to go shopping for this kind of stuff.
  • A healthy family...especially when you don't have health insurance!!!
  • Opportunities. Being layed off, I can do anything I want. What do I want to be when I grow up? A dispatcher!
  • The opening riff to Poison's "Look What the Cat Dragged In" live. The crunchier the guitar the better. It literally gives me shivers of pleasure and excitement every time I hear it.
  • Jimmy Stewart movies. Jimmy was an amazing actor and an amazing man. I strive to be like him, but I don't want to be an actor.
  • Arena rock. I love 80s hair metal!!!!!
  • Finishing a really good book
  • Freshly-brewed coffee: Which I am drinking as I write this.
  • An hour of silence.
  • Satisfaction from a job well-done. The bigger or harder that job is, the greater the satisfaction.
  • Watching your children reach their milestones as they grow up.
  • (A corollary) A baby's one-toothed grin.
  • A clean house.
  • The cracking of the spine of a new book being opened for the first time.
  • A to-do list with all of the items checked off
That's my list for now. I hope to add more in a future post.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Waiting Game: "Have You Learned Patience Yet?"

I have taken the next big step in the process of trying to get the dispatching job and turned in my background check packet the last week of July. Now it is just a waiting game to see what happens next.

I feel pretty good about it. I know what is in my background. It's pretty boring. But that didn't make the background check difficult to fill out. It was about 15 pages of very personal questions, and included things that I can't believe would affect my ability to do or not do this job. But I get it: It's also a test to see if I am honest and can be trusted. I prided myself in building those trusting relationships in my last job, so we'll see if I can build that same kind of trust here.

I turned in the packet three days before the deadline, and thought that it would be assigned to an investigator shortly after they received it. Turns out, that is not the case. When I called last week to make sure they got it, and if they needed any other information, the detective informed me that they did get it, but it hadn't been assigned to an investigator yet. That was a week to the day after I turned it in.

Sometimes things happen that resonate across many aspects of my life. For many months now, my oldest son and I have talked about being patient and learning patience. Whether it is in a doctor's office waiting room or in traffic, or any number of other places, sometimes we just have to wait for things to happen and we can't control how quickly it happens.

Just this past Wednesday, Evan and I were driving around and we got to a particular intersection that, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation, is mis-marked. It is a two-way stop, but the stop signs are facing the wrong direction. They should face the east and west sides of the intersection, not the north and south sides. At either rate, nobody in town treats it like a two-way stop. People turn left there in front of others all of the time.

I, on the other hand, get pretty frustrated when people don't follow basic traffic laws. I also hate turning left. I'll go out of my way in order to make all right-hand turns if it means a less stressful drive to my destination. So I get to the intersection, with Evan in the back, and I stop behind a car that has been going 20 MPH all 2 miles up a 35 MPH road, so I'm already frustrated from being stuck behind a car that deserves a slow moving vehicle triangle. The driver c.....r.....e.....e.....p.....s through the intersection.

So I wait for the big delivery truck coming the opposite way to take his turn. He was there first, it's a 2-way stop, and I intend to turn left. I have not yet turned on my blinker because I have come to anticipate situations just like what I am experiencing here: The driver just sits there, like it's my turn. I want to turn left, he is going straight, and he was there first. It is clearly his turn. But no. There is absolutely no movement on his side.

I start to wonder if he is having a heart attack or something that is preventing him from driving in a forward motion. Then I see him check for oncoming traffic for what seems to me to be the fifth time, and the road is empty. There is nothing for miles. I literally had not seen that particular road that empty for years.

Then another vehicle pulls up behind the truck at the stop sign. Knowing that I intend to turn left, I know I will have to wait for the guy behind the truck as well since I try very hard to follow traffic laws.

It is at this point that I say (out loud) "screw this," along with another colorful word or two of choice words, and CROSS the empty intersection, and the oncoming truck still has not moved. That is why I didn't turn on my turn signal: because most of the time, I end up going straight through that particular intersection out of frustration and people's ignorance about how a two-way stop works. Instead, I will drive around the block. It's quicker than waiting any more.

So after my very brief one-line outburst, my oldest son (he's in the back seat, remember? I didn't...oops!!!!) says to me, "have you learned patience yet, Dad?"

What could I say? He's smart and he had me cold right after a moment of frustration. I responded the only way I could "Not today, I haven't."

"I can teach you," he offered.

"You learned patience already?" I asked him, starting to smile.

"I learned it last week. At school."

I had to laugh. It also made me think about how the day before I had found out that an investigator hadn't started looking at my background check yet.

Isn't it strange how a simple incident can turn into an across-the-board lesson...or at least a reminder?

I'm ready to go back to work full-time. I'm ready to interview and prove to them why I am absolutely perfect for this dispatching job.

I'm ready to talk to them and convince them that while I was a journalist, dispatching is a serious profession that I am honestly pursuing: This is not a temporary or fill-in job for me. This is a conscious effort to change my career path and my family's future. This is the direction that I am dedicated to going.

I am ready for the next step and I am anxious to work. I just have to continue being patient. Hopefully, my son will continue to help me with that.