Since August 19th, 2002 I have gotten in my car and drove in to Clayton State University. When I began doing this, I was only a student trying to get to my first semester of classes in the Information Technology program. The tech industry had just survived the dot com crash, and it was soon enough after that the program was alive and still healthy. I moved from Conyers, GA to live in an apartment off Rex Road in a rough area, and worked an even rougher job at the Fedex distribution hub, in Ellenwood, GA. I loaded and unloaded 18 wheelers from 4am to 10am, then went to class from noon to 8pm.
It was a horrible time, and I was all too happy to accept a student analyst position at the helpdesk – “The HUB” (a very different hub) on campus. Debye Baird was actually agreeing to pay me to be in an air conditioned room and sit in a “lean-to” (not quite a chair) and talk to people about computers. On a good day, I would be given a screwdriver and told to go to town on something. I fell in love with the job instantly. My funds ran out, and I decided to move back in with my parents in Conyers – my commute pushed an hour some days to make it to work and classes.
It wasn’t too long after when I met my wife-to-be, Kristin Graham. She came in during the MSBlast outbreak of August 2003 (yes, I track my dates by significant events in technology). Her machine was quarantined, and I was the punching bag that was preventing her from accessing Facebook while on campus. Love spun out of that, and things got serious. We had lunch together all the time while on campus. Soon, she stopped going to classes, and took a full-time job at For Pet’s Sake in Decatur. We got an apartment together off of Sigman Road in Conyers. From here, it was closer to Clayton State but still a considerable drive.
After a while, two full time positions opened up at the helpdesk for supervisors. The job description, and certainly the pay made it an attractive offer. I applied and was amazed again that the HUB wanted me. I took the job, and shortly after proposed to Kristin. With our combined income, I felt like I had a good chance at providing a good quality of life for us with my job at the HUB. Our marriage date was set for October 21st, 2006. Meanwhile, I was having a great time managing staff, and running the service counter. I enjoyed the job so much I fell out of being a student. It seemed to be a common symptom after working at the helpdesk for a while. We moved into my folks old house in Lithonia, GA and I was within a half hour of the campus.
After a year and a half of fun, Tom Marshall, the director from another department approached me about a job opportunity. He described what it entailed, and I was skeptical to say the least. I thought about it for a long time, and talked with a lot of people about it before accepting. I knew that I loved my job at the HUB, and it is hard to walk away from a good thing for something unknown.
For months I felt like I made a horrible decision. Tom was always talking about stuff I knew nothing about like Crystal Reports, DTS packages, C#, and PL/SQL. My head hurt everyday from the amount of knowledge I had to absorb. Things began to get easier, and when the Portal was announced, I finally found my niche. The Portal wasn’t a cake walk though, and I would go through periods of frustration, and apathy, and occasionally a glimmer of elation. This job taught me that I can survive anything.
I started taking classes again once I felt I could manage the new job. I switched programs, and enrolled in the Technology Management program under entirely separate personnel. I got close to finishing my degree when my wife wanted to have lunch with me one day. Sitting at the restaurant, she told me that she had gotten a job offer from a little town called Attleboro, Massachusetts. It was our chance to move ahead again in life. We decided to accept, and now things are set in motion. I will hopefully be retiring my car in Braintree, Massachusetts and opt instead to take the train into my new job. If the train weren’t on rails, I would probably instinctively wake up some morning and begin to head into Clayton State, same as I have for the last seven years.
This is my last week at Clayton State University, and despite the troubles, I already know that I will miss this place. A job is just a job but your friends are what make it fun. I can only hope that my new employer has an environment similar to what I have here between the HUB, and Administrative Systems. Just like before, it is hard to walk away from something that I know is good.
Start the countdown, and by next Friday I will be on my way 1,200 miles north to find out what else the world has to offer us.