Monday, October 05, 2009

While I Was Away - part 1

While I Was Away - part 1

I decided to make a series of posts entitled While I Was Away. I think I will do them in a semi- chronological order, unless I can't remember when things happened in the sequence of events and then they will be in whatever order I write them. Not that it matters, I just tend to be anal about such things and having some order or plan of order seems to be the right way to do this in my mind. The problem is that as I get older, my CSR condition (Can't Remember S*** ) kicks in and my anal-retentive ways get nipped in the bud (do you remember what tv character used to say "nip it... nip it in the bud"?) Anyway, this is the first of these posts.

While I was away, I spent a good part of my time working. In May, I finally got a call from the contract firm I had talked to last year about going to work and doing so immediately. The timing was terrible for me but I knew with the financial crisis we had just gone through and the losses my retirement funds had taken, I wanted and needed to do something to feel a little more secure.

Going back to work at this time would mean I would miss my usual trip to Indiana and Tennessee with mom. I talked to her and to my sister and since Robin had sort of made plans to make the trip with us anyway, it was decided they would make the trip and I would sit out this year. I would be missing out on mom picking out new markers for some of the grave sites of her family and that was a real disappointment for me. I've visited those graves with her for many years and I had looked forward to helping her do something that meant so much to her. But life is full of twists and curves and realistically, the best thing for me to do was to take this opportunity. I have a post in the works about these markers and finally getting to visit with mom that I will post later but for now, let me tell you about my job.

The firm that called me to work is a contract company to whom I sub-contracted. The work they were doing was to assist in developing a design for a telephone company that was hoping to receive stimulus funds from the government to place facilities to provide high speed internet access in rural areas as part of the economic recovery. We were tasked in part with identifying the location of potential customers in rural service areas that might take advantage of those services and how to get the service to them. This project is similar to the old REA funding that helped get electricity and telephone service to rural areas during the last century.

I was surprised how easily I fit into the flow of work. It didn't take long to get the hang of everything and it helped that I was working directly with an old friend of mine from CenturyTel who is and was a mentor of sorts for me. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the other design/engineering contract force were also former CTL employees. The owners of the contract firm are also former co-workers as are several of the management people with the actual telco we were doing the work for. It's a small world after all and was a little like homecoming without the frustration of corporate interference!

Working was a big boost for me as I was still in the tail end of a long term funk and the financial concerns had not helped that. My confidence was boosted and I felt needed and useful again. Not that what I do day to day isn't important in my mind but I have always enjoyed having an outside stimulus in my life. Making money again felt good to me. The job came and went in phases and a time or two I thought my part was done only to be called by someone in a panic saying we had to hurry up and get the next part done or lose out on the rest of the contract.

As it turned out, I worked a good bit from the end of May and into August, mostly at home, mostly in a very casual atmosphere with little or no pressure or stress. In that time I earned a good chunk of what I am allowed to make and not have to give back part of my Social Security. The only reason I signed up for SS this year is that I had not heard back from the company that finally offered me the chance to work in time to avoid doing so. But I still think it all turned out for the best. The kicker is that the telco we helped design the plan for, decided that they were not going to apply for the stimulus funds as they didn't like some of the restrictions the government put in place for this initial phase. Hopefully, they will decide to participate in the next phase and I will get to work again on this project next year. That would be perfect for me and my situation. Extra income and plenty of free time and no stress... you can't beat that!

Next up for WIWA is a home improvement project! I think!


posted by Marsha at


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