Sunday, October 14, 2012

Week 38 of 2012 – College or Technical Training

“Once again, there is not quite enough money in the check book for all the bills”, I thought as I wrote the checks and got them ready to mail.  “Will there ever be a day when there will be enough?”, I remembered thinking…. It is 1980 and I was a young mother home with two sons, Shawn is eight and Kyle is four.  I would do everything I can to stretch our money to make it be enough for the month but some months it just did not work. 

Gary worked for his father and uncle in the family restaurant. I helped my dad out in his store when I could.   Often in family businesses, family members are treated differently than an employee who is not a family member. In family businesses it can go either way, the family member employee is favored or it is the quite the opposite.  Sometimes so much more is expected of the family member than an ordinary employee.  You don’t just go do your job and then go home….You have more riding on your job than most people realize. You find that your dad telling you “what to do” all the time can be too much for a 20 something year old who is trying to make his way in the world!  Sometimes the dad/ boss doesn’t know where to draw the line which makes the adult son and father relationship strained at best.  This was the case with Gary and his dad.  I could not expect him to work more he already worked 60 hours a week or more for his salary.  The writing was on the wall, it was time for me to get a job.

So Control Data Institute, here I come!  It was quite a crazy the way to decided what to do for a living but….Gary’s best friend, Ron Cross had gone to Control Data and gotten a pretty good computer job. He kept encouraging me to look into it every time I saw him.  “ You can do this, Jan!”,  he would tell me, “go check it out.”  It was in the early days of computers and there were quite a number of jobs available. He had gotten employment in the Detroit area but eventually transferred to Salt Lake City, Utah with a new company, called Storage Technology.  Ron kept telling me that I was smart enough to do his job and that it would be good for a mother like me.  “You work when the equipment is broke.” He told me. The rest of the time you are not working but you still get paid!  Well, that sounded pretty good to me so let the adventure begin! 

I signed up at Control Data.  I took out school loans and before I knew it I was in class learning all about computers.  I got up at 4 AM to get ready.  I drove 75 mile one way to Southfield, Michigan to begin class at 7:30 AM. Went to class from 7:30 to 1:00 PM and drove home to collect my kids from school and daycare and began my afternoon studying.  Most afternoons I hoped that Kyle would nap, some days he did, some days he didn’t.   I remember it seemed like I always had a book in my hands and was studying something. No leisure reading for me for a while, basic electricity, electronics, computer math, geometry, programing, all courses I would need to learn how to be a computer technician.  I was amazed to find out that Mr Swayzee did teach me something in his Geometry class that I hated so much.  It was the only class that I almost failed and thought that I would never use anything he taught me!  During my nine months at Control data not only did I use the geometry, I actually was able to tutor some other students. 

I remember sitting at a table with a half a dozen adults, studying and talking, when I had a mind blowing revelation!  I really can have an intelligent adult conversation. It seemed to me that it had been such a long time since I had talked to anyone other than my children.  I had been in the vacuum of “motherhood” and was soon going to break out of that mold. 

In under 6 months, I completed the training course that Control Data had planned for me.  But I still did not have my hours in so I took any additional classes that I could to fill in my time.   On January 9, 1981, I received my certificate and it was official,  I was a Computer Technician!

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