Some people call it fate, some people just think things happen. I think it’s a little of both, to be honest. I don’t really believe we’re on a path and we can’t choose our own way, but at the same time I think things can and do happen for a reason.
But if I didn’t take those hints, I may very well be typing this message from North Platte, Nebraska at this point instead of upstate New York. Scary thought actually.
I was out of grad school, with a Master’s degree in hand, and couldn’t seem to find a job. I was freelancing at the shop I’m at now, but that was it. I had over 60 applications floating around the United States and was rarely even getting a bite. I had a couple phone interviews, but nothing came out of it.
Then I got a call one night from the sports editor at the North Platte paper. We talked a couple of times and he asked me what I thought. So I said basically it depended on if the job was offered. He then offered it to me.
A couple thoughts right away. I was thinking, I need this job. I did some financial things and it was going to be tough. I would be going out there blind, no apartment, no nothing. I figured I couldn’t go blind, so I opted to drop $500 of my own money, fly out there, drive into North Platte, check things out and fly back out.
So I bought a ticket, flew out of Albany the next day (by the way, it was my first time on a plane) and landed in Detroit a bit later. Soon, I was then off to Omaha. Now, my first impressions of Nebraska were…
Holy shit, this place is flat! My thoughts changed quickly, however.
I went to the car rental desk to et my car. The two girls working there were phenomenal looking. Midwestern girls… whooooo. Talk about smoking! Anyway, they didn’t have the car I reserved, so they upgraded me for free to a brand new Chevy Tahoe. That thing rocked. I had that bouncing down I-80 at 85 and was getting passed like I was standing still. Ouch!
Anyway, after a four-hour ride to North Platte, I pull in at dark. I find my motel ($27 bucks per night!) and check in. I was starting to see how things could become hard for me out there.
Me = Northeastern person.
Them = Midwesterners.
That equals impatience, if you don’t already know.
It wasn’t too bad at the motel, but I got my first real dose at an Arby’s down the street. All I wanted was something quick to eat, go back to the motel and go to bed. I was jet-lagged and tired and had a full day ahead of me. So I get to the Arby’s and there’s one family in front of me. One. Not more than one. One.
Holy shit, you would have thought I was behind 15 people.
It took them, I swear, 15 minutes to place their order and get it. And, of course, there’s no reason for them to take my order until the other one is fully finished. It took me damn near 25 minutes to get out of there with my food. So needless to say, I wasn’t happy.
I was so tired I didn’t even go look for a bar, which I should have done. I could have probably used a beer or two. Instead, I went back to the motel, ate, watched some TV and got myself about 10 hours of sleep to get ready for the next day.
The next day comes, I get cleaned up and all and go get some quick breakfast at the Dunkin Donuts there. I also had a chance to read the local paper, of which my job offer was from.
Now look, I understand small papers. I know what they are supposed to do. But this one was a little different. The best I can describe it is a community weekly dressed as a daily. For those in the business, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
I go meet the SE. Now, a couple quick things. He has no formal training as a journalist. He’s a preacher. But man, he’s a super guy. I think he would have been a blast to work with/for. Problem is, I want to learn, I want to be in a different environment.
He takes me on a tour of the town, the office and all that. My decision is pretty much made, but at the same time, I’m sick of being unemployed. So I don’t know. Some of the questions I asked, I didn’t like the answers to (such as who covers what beats and why, vacations, freedom to do certain things etc.), but I told him I needed a couple days to think it over.
Like I said, super guy and I think he would have been fun to work with. But there were a bunch of negatives to go with the positives. And remember, this is my first offer in 10 friggin months.
So I drive back to Omaha and stay in Iowa (2 minutes from the airport). I’m scheduled to fly out the next day. This is where “fate” came into play and probably what this long-winded story was heading to from the beginning.
As I’m sitting in the Omaha airport waiting to be able to board, I see this fantastic looking blond gal. She’s beautiful, probably around my age, maybe a year or two younger. Just reading. Well, unfortunately, she boards a plane before me.
Ten minutes later, she comes off because they have engine problems. Interesting. I get some more staring time.
Well, our plane boards and I see she’s now on my flight. Interesting again.
So I get on. I have the front row, aisle seat. I get there and this larger guy is sitting in my seat talking to this tiny chick. They are chatting away. And I’m like “Excuse me, but you’re in my seat.” He was like “Do you mind if we switch, me and (so-and-so) are having a nice conversation.” And I was like “Well, all depends where your seat is.” He said “right there,” which was the aisle seat on the other side. I had no problem with it because it was still front-row and on the aisle, which is what I wanted.
As the plane is nearing the end of boarding, who comes on? The blond. And where does she sit? You guessed it, right next to me.
Within the first 10 minutes I have picked up a conversation with her. We’re chatting away and such and I find out some depressing things. She’s married and all, she’s heading to Baltimore for work, so I guess I can count the mile-high club out.
However, we get into why I’m in Nebraska, my hemming and hawing about the job and all that. So she says:
“My sister always says if you have to think too much about a decision, you’ve made the decision already.”
Powerful and true words.
We landed in Detroit and went our separate ways. Shook hands, wished each other luck and that was it. I can’t even remember her name, but her words rang in my ears all the way into Albany.
Two day later I called out to North Platte and turned down the job. Never had a regret about it, either. In fact, when I told them no, I felt a weight off my shoulder.
A couple months after that, I went part-time where I am now. A couple more months and I was full time. I made the right choice.
But those words still ring in my ear as being so true. Whenever I get into large decisions, I think that.
I guess the point of this story, outside of sharing my trip to Nebraska, is saying that you never know when something can come up to help you along in life. Always keep your eyes and ears open and take nothing for granted!
The other thing I found out is this: no matter how bad you need something (ie: job), don’t ever settle just because. Something better will show up.