In 1982 after the boy came along, I had to find a job. College was done for the time being and I ended up working at Lawrence Livermore National Labs for a contractor.
Life was good. The work was exciting, groundbreaking and it paid well. As a condition of the contractor moving me lock, stock and barrel from the north part pf the state to here I was obligated not to jump ship for at least a year. The year came and went, and while I was contractually no longer obligated, I felt morally obligated. Boy was I naive.
Shortly after my father died in December, 1984, my boss called me into his office to ask me to do him a favor. There was a program closing down at the lab and he had a long-time employee that was going to get bumped. There was an opening in another program, but he said the employee would not have been a good fit, so my boss asked if I would change programs or he would have to let the other guy go.
Being the consummate team player I agreed, thinking this would give me a chit in the game for a later date. Again, I was naïve.
In April of 1985 – with the girl due to make her arrival in two months – I was summoned to a meeting. The program I transferred to was closing down and in 30 days I would be out the door.
Panic and anger enveloped me. Panic for trying to find a job when there were not any to be had and anger for being where I was due to taking one for the team. I went to my boss and told him that he owed me that I would still be solidly employed had I not done him a favor. He told me he would do what he could.
Thirty days came and went, and I did not go out the door unlike 32 of my coworkers. I was given a 30-day extension, and the Lab personnel were very considerate and accommodating as they let me track down job leads when I got them.
About two weeks later as I was entering my job site my boss drove up and told me he found me a job – at Goldstone Naval Tracking Station. Now I knew most of the programs at LLNL, and that was not one I had heard of. There is a reason for that as the job was in Barstow.
I was floored – devastated. I had a new house, a toddler, a baby coming and interest rates were north of 13 percent. I looked at him with what must have been a look of disgust as he angrily said to me, “My conscience is clear – I found you a job,” and then drove off.
I landed on my feet – sort of. I was unemployed for two days before starting for another contractor at the Lab. The job was not near as exciting and had zero future in it. (The program I voluntarily left is still running to this day). About a month later I got the job I hold to this day, although it was at a 20 percent cut in pay.
There was a lot of pain and suffering that went on then, and all because I put my faith in someone – I trusted him. In hind sight, maybe losing that job was the best thing that could have happened to me. I have not had to commute these last 32 years (next month will be my anniversary), and while the money is not nearly what I would have made elsewhere, it has been secure.
I am sure my old boss does not even remember me, but I will never forget him. And to this day I wonder how he was able to sleep at night.