Thursday, October 18, 2012

Week 39 of 2012 – First Job

Ron Cross was instrumental in getting me to go to Control Data and all the while I studied, he seemed to take a special interest in how I was doing.  He told me that he would help get me a job but he live in Salt Lake City and we lived in Michigan so I just did not know how that would work. 

Gary worked for his Dad and I needed to find employment in the suburbs of Detroit.  SO after I completed my technical training, I hit the streets looking for a job and the interview process began...  Unemployment in Michigan was high and we were in the midst of a recession largely due to a slump in the automotive industry which dominated the Michigan economy and still does today.  I checked newspapers and worked with the Control Data recruiters hoping to find something close to where we lived so I did not have a long daily commute. The end result was the same…No job in Michigan.  I had one man ask me, “ Janet, what makes you think I should hire you, when we have so many men who are unemployed?” I explained that I had training that these “other men” did not have but he laughed at me all the same!  I was feeling pretty down and wondering if all the money I spent on my training was spent for nothing.

One afternoon, I got a call from Ron. 

“ Jan, I got a job for you.”, he said all excited. 
“Wow”, I am thinking…”Where,”  I said.  I am thinking that maybe he pulled some strings with someone he knew in Michigan…I am thinking ,…wow, how nice of him….
“ Phoenix” he repied. 
“PHOENIX?  Ron, I live in Michigan remember?”  I told him…
”Now listen to me,” he said. “my boss really need employees in Phoenix and the government is coming down on the company because we don’t have many women employees so he is looking for a woman and you are a great fit!   It will get your foot in the door. You could go out there and Gary could come after you get settled. Gary could get a job down there.  There are lots of restaurants!”

 All the while my head is reeling with thoughts of a job all the way across the country!  After talking for 20 minutes or so, I did begin to get excited by the possibility of a job in Phoenix but how would I tell Gary all this.

 Ron says, “My boss will call you, his name is Willard, talk to him and see what you think.  Then you can talk to Gary about it… 

“Maybe we could do this…” I thought…

Before I even got a chance to get nervous, the phone rang.  The voice on the other end was scruffy and hoarse sounding, “Hi Jan, my name is Willard Zerbe, I am Ron Cross’s boss and I have heard a lot about you!”  My surprise couldn’t be hidden!  It would take a moment or two to recover but eventually I found my voice again. I listened to Willard’s southern drawl as he explained the job and what he needed.  He asked me about my grades and said “Ron had been keeping me up on what you have been doing…You have been doing real well in school according to Ron.” “ Drop your grades and a resume in the mail to me tomorrow, OK? “, he said, “I would like to hire you but I need you to see your grade and your resume first.  Do you think your husband will go for this? “  “I thinking we can do this if you think you can convince him. If you need help with that, we might need to get Ron on the phone to talk to him too. Don’t forget to send me that resume and you are as good as hired! ”   And with that, Willard hung up! I stood in the middle of my kitchen with my head spinning… Phoenix?  Did he really say I was hired?  Did he mean it?  The whole conversation could not have lasted more than 10 or 15 minutes. From no job, to you are hired, just like that!

Oh my, what am I going to tell Gary, how will he react?  What about my parents, his parents and all our friends.  Wow.  It was one of those moments in life when the world seems to spin a thousand miles an hour and it takes your breath away. 

 I was going to have to really think about how to present this to my husband as a win-win when he arrived home from work.  He would need to giving up his job with his family for an unknown job in Phoenix.  We would have a house to sell and a cross country move to a place that neither of us had ever been before.  I had my work cut out for me!  Lucky for me, he was off tonight.  Gary knew that I had been working hard at trying to find a job for several months now and all attempts had come up short. 

 So I decided just how I would tell him…  I would make a deal with him, “If you can just give me two years to get some experience, then if you want to return to Michigan, we can…Just let me get my foot in the door. Please?”   

Gary got home from work and before I could even get the words out of my mouth, the phone was ringing. It was Ron!

“Hey, Gietz, did she tell ya…She has a job, it’s in Phoenix, my boss is going to hire her. You can quit the restaurant and move out there.  There are lots of jobs for you.  It will be cool and as soon as I can transfer there, I will. I am going there too.  You are gonna love it! Good bye, Michigan, Hello Phoenix!” Ron rambled on hardly taking time to take a breath.

Gary said, “What are you talking about?...NO we have not talked…what are you talking about?”

Ron, “Oh, she did not tell you yet…well, call me back after you talk,” Click went the receiver!

Gary glared at me and said, “What the Hell is going on?  What is that all about?”

“Well, this is not exactly how I had planned to tell you but…” I told him how Ron had called me earlier to tell he about the job openings in Phoenix and that at first I re-acted the same as you.  I told him that a very few minutes later, his boss called. I told Gary exactly what Willard said, including the part about “you are as good as hired!”  Then I told him about my deal.  “If you can just let me do this, give me two years to get some experience and I promise if you want to come back to Michigan, we will. I need for someone to give me a break and take a chance on me and this guy in Phoenix says he wants to do that! “  There was a long, long period of silence….It was a big decision to make…just like that…

“How do you know that you really have a job?  He finally asked.
“Because Willard said so…” I replied…
“ You call him back and make sure..” He said.

The phone rang and scared both of us half to death and it of course was Ron!

“Are you packing yet? “, he said so sure that we would leave Michigan for Phoenix! And within a day or two, we made the decision. We would do it!  Within the month, I got on a plane and flew to Phoenix to start my job.  Gary and the kids stayed in Michigan, until the house sold or school got out whichever came first. 
I was a Field Service Technician for Storage Technology Corporation in Phoenix, Arizona.  And as promised by Ron, at first, I worked when equipment was broken. That lasted for about the first two years of my career.  In time we got so busy, with scheduled and unscheduled maintenance that we put in 50 and 60 hour weeks on average.  I worked for Greyhound,  Uhaul, GTE, State Farm, First Interstate Bank, ADT, The Arizona Bank, American Express, ATT, ASU and  many more fortune 500 companies. Many of them had large computer room, some half the size of a football fields. In those days, a CPU which provided the computing power for a whole computer room took up a lot of physical space.  Today the same computing power is found in a single laptop!

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