Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 95 - Positioned for Destiny

Julia and I left Hawaii in 1975. I got off active duty in Travis AFB outside of San Francisco. We picked up our car and started driving across country with Jennifer. Jennifer was 18 months old, and had probably never been in the car more than 45 minutes at a time. Car seats for toddlers were just coming into use. We drove across country 7 -8 hours a day. After the first day Jennifer was screaming every time we put her in the car. Here we were driving back to Georgia. I had no job or any hint of one. We were in the middle of the biggest recession that we have had until now. Dad had almost begged me to stay in the Air Force, but no I didn’t listen to him. As I look back on my life that is one of the times I wish that I had listened. Anyway, we came back to the Atlanta area. Julia got a job teaching at Jonesboro High School. I went back to school on the GI bill and worked construction part time. That was a very hard time for me because I felt that I was letting my family down. We were barely making it on Julia’s salary and with what I was making. I can remember many nights when we didn’t have enough food to eat. We had bought a little house though, and we were surviving. I wish that we had been walking with the Lord then. We weren’t and we had no support system except our immediate family We had Jennifer in day care, and she was constantly getting sick and we were constantly at the doctor. We survived that year. None of the airlines were hiring, and I didn’t know if I would ever fly again. I think that I was in a constant state of depression and I threw myself into school. I made good grades and that was good, but all my confidence in my ability to get a job was gone. We lived for two years like this, in survival mode. I think that this is a time that I developed a poverty spirit. I didn’t have any close friends. Julia and I were very close, but we were both so tired we really didn’t communicate well. I was about to graduate with another engineering degree and started interviewing for jobs. It is hard to interview in a recession. Any confidence that you had is taken away after the third or fourth rejection. Here I was, a pilot, a graduate with two engineering degrees, a former Captain in the Air Force and I couldn’t get a job. The main reason no one would hire me was because I was a pilot. They all felt that when the airlines started hiring, I would be gone. I tried to assure them, and convince myself, that wasn’t true. I don’t think I did a very good job. Deep down I really wanted to fly, and I’m sure it showed somehow. I don’t think that I have ever felt as lonely, but Julia believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. It was probably her strength that pulled me through this process. Finally I got a job. I had two good interviews in the same week. The first was with South Central Bell for a job in Montgomery. I was highly qualified, and really wanted it. They seemed to want me too. The second was with Georgia Power Co in Baxley Ga building a nuclear power plant. I really didn’t like that as much, but they seemed to like me and I desperately needed a job. Bell decided that they couldn’t hire me yet, but said if I was still interested later they might give me a call. Ga Power made me an offer and I accepted. I started work the next week in Baxley Ga.

Now we had a house to sell, and the economy still wasn’t great. Julia and Jennifer stayed in Jonesboro and she continued to teach. I would commute down to Vidalia Ga where I found a house to rent. I would drive home on Friday nights after work. I would get to Jonesboro around 10PM. I would stay all weekend, get up and leave around 3AM on Monday morning and drive straight to work. I did this for 6 months. I now had insurance and we had talked about having another baby. Of course we figured it would take a while for Julia to get pregnant. After all we were both older. Julia never had a problem getting pregnant. I think that she got pregnant very quickly after we started trying to have another baby. About 3 months after she got pregnant, we finally sold the house. I packed up all our possessions and moved she, Jennifer and the future baby down to Vidalia. I had been working with Ga Power for a little over 6 months. I figured we would be in Vidalia for at least another three years as the plant was finished. I was wrong. As soon as Julia got down to Vidalia, South Central Bell called and offered me a job in Montgomery Al. It was a better job, better pay and more room for advancement. It was really a no brainer. I asked Julia if she could handle another move. Being the trooper she was, she said yes. She lived in Vidalia Ga for two weeks when , once again, we packed the U-Haul truck and moved to Montgomery Al.

There we bought a new house and tried to start making a new life. I enjoyed my job. Julia was getting bigger. The big negative was that her pregnancy was know a “pre-existing condition” and wasn’t covered under our insurance. I think it was then that I began to pray for the first time in years. There were other “coincidences” that happened to us in Montgomery. I had been trying to get into an Air Force Reserve unit so that I could fly again. I needed to be flying to be considered with an airline. The problem was that all the reserve units were full because of the recession. Most of the airline pilots who had been laid off were now flying for the reserves. I could not find an opening. I found out that there was a reserve unit at Maxwell AFB flying a small, slow, cargo plane called the C-7. When I was on active duty, I used to look down on anyone who flew this terrible airplane. This time things were different. No longer was I on top, ruling my own destiny. In many ways I had been broken. Now I only wanted to fly, no matter what. I walked into the unit with all my records on afternoon. In another “coincidence” a pilot had resigned that day. It was the first opening that they had had in over four years. I was qualified and I was a local guy. They really wanted to hire pilots who didn’t fly with the airlines someone who would be around during the week to fly. I got the job. It was around April 1977. I hadn’t flown in over 2 years. I was amazed. I was going to fly again. I sort of thanked God. My early upbringing, and Christian background was slowly beginning to come out. Lisa was born in July 1977. I was working 50 hours a week, flying on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings and going to Graduate school on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I hardly saw Julia, Jennifer or Lisa, but we were living the American Dream. I don’t know if our marriage would have survived if that had continued very long. God had other ideas for us.

It was now April 1978 and the airlines had started hiring again. Delta had been hiring for about 7 months. I was trying to get checked out on the plane, and fly as much as I could. I wanted to apply to all the airlines, but I didn’t have the time or the money to go to many interviews. Delta was really the airline that I had always wanted to fly for. I was 30 years old; I would be 31 at the end of June. None of the airlines were hiring any pilots over 30. I was running out of time. By God’s grace I was able to get an interview in early May. 25 of us interview that day, and 3 were hired. I started class on June 12, 1978. It was 13 days before my 31st birthday. This changed our lives in ways I would have never imagined. God had plans for us, and He made a way for us where there really was no way. Here we were living in Montgomery Al, flying out of Maxwell AFB. I got out of the Air Force primarily because I didn’t want my next assignment. I would have been in Montgomery Al at Maxwell AFB. God does work in mysterious ways. He positioned us to be used by him. We didn’t know it, in fact that was nowhere on our horizon.

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