Archive for the ‘Curriculum Vitae’ Category

They Are Out To Get You

Before their recent popularity in B-movies and in video games zombies began their undead lives in religious folklore. They were the product of witch doctors skilled in the arts of voodoo. This involved a bit of trickery with either hypnotism or a victim induced into a stupor by a mild poison. While we may dismiss this as the relic of a primitive culture, a startling 31% of modern Americans actually believe in witchcraft.

This same 2007 surveyalso found that 41% believe in ghosts and 35% believe in UFOs. A 2005Gallop pollfound similar results. When asked if they believed that extraterrestrials had visited the earth 1 in 4 Americans said yes. In total 73% of respondents said they believed in some aspect of the paranormal. In contrast a Pew Research survey from 2010 found that nearly 80 percent of Americans say they do not trust their own federal government.

The “trust” question was first posed in a national survey in 1958. At the time 73% of respondents trusted their government but it has declined steadily since then. This isn’t simply a cynical opinion about bureaucratic incompetence, in many cases it goes much deeper.

In 1966 in the first survey conducted after the release of the Warren Commission’s report on the Kennedy assassination 36% took it at face value. In the most recent survey, that number was down to 13% and while a resounding 81% believed there was a conspiracy. At present 15% of the population believe that the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center is part of a government conspiracy.

I got my own taste of this government paranoia while working for the 2011 census. For starters we had to swear a lengthy oath which included among other oddities the fact that we couldn’t conduct business on a cordless phone. Forget cell phones, the government expected us to work exclusively from landlines that had a handset hard wired into the wall. I haven’t owned a phone like that in twenty years. I don’t think they are even available anymore.

The reason of course was to satisfy a ridiculous level of security. The sensitive information I was entrusted with were the answers given to 10 census questions. Five had to do with what languages were spoken and the others were basic demographics: name, age, sex & marital status. There is no penalty for lying to a census worker and they don’t verify the responses. Yet even with the threat of prosecution there were still outright refusals. I had one fellow chase me down the street screaming hysterically because his girlfriend had put their phone number on the form.

The only way to explain this kind of behaviour is with the Belief Disconfirmation Paradigm. This is an odd quirk of human nature where people, in an effort to reduce cognitive dissonance, choose to reject information that doesn’t mesh with their existing beliefs. Truth takes a back seat to finding other people who share the same illogical set of ideas thus insulating them further from distressing facts. This is how cults get started and if they get big enough, nonsense beliefs can become conventional wisdom.

My own take is that people fail to take into account Hanlon’s Razor:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

The full truth about the Kennedy assassination will never be known but its likely closer to the theory offered by ballistics expert Howard Donahue than any of the wild ones that require the cooperation of a tremendous amount of individuals.

So when you hear a bump in the night don’t conflate with the nocturnal rumblings of ghosts. If you see a strange light in the sky understand that while the explanation may beyond your limited comprehension of science its not beyond the scope of the human race. Surround yourself with people who think for themselves even if they may disagree with you. A human being without critical thinking is little more than a zombie and it’s hard to believe that anyone would want to be a zombie. A mind is a terrible thing to taste.

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Plan 7 From Cyberspace

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race” – Calvin Coolidge

Few people exemplify that quote more than Ed Wood, who didn’t let a lack of talent or training prevent him from becoming the worst movie director of all time.  This begs the question is it better to be persistent like Wood, suffer serious financial difficulties and be a complete laughingstock or is it better to pick your battles wisely and know when to move on.

Initially I wanted to stay in the insurance business and I figured the best way would be to take a course and get my broker license.  My original plan was to work first as a seasonal employee at the warehouse where my brother-in-law was a lead hand so that I could accumulate the 500 hours I needed to qualify for Unemployment Insurance.  At the outset this went as planned however the orders tapered off after Christmas and the expected Olympic business never materialized so I was laid off well short of my goal.

The next plan was to skip the insurance course and use the home study kit instead.  I successfully memorized both textbooks, passed the test and had my level 1 insurance license in two weeks.  Next I cold called every broker in a 50km radius and applied directly via all the corporate web portals.  From this effort I was rewarded with four phone calls, two of which lead to sit down interviews, but none materialized into jobs

For my next plan I sought out the advice of a professional employment councilor who had me enrolled in a series of resume and interview workshops.  This gobbled up much of April and May but I had a lot of new ideas and a much longer resume which was filled with accomplishments statements.  From my second round of applications I was rewarded with two phone calls, no face to face interviews and no job offers.

I finally got a job offer in June but only after I switched to Plan #4.  I was  cold calling non-insurance businesses out of the chamber of commerce directory and one, a P.O.S./Computer Service company was a pretty good match.  He called me back but he was really swamped so it took a while to get everything set up.  It turned out that he was a one man show and he was just looking to subcontract some of his service calls.  On my first assignment I was sent to replace a power supply but when I got to the site I discovered that several capacitors on the motherboard were blown which meant that the computer was beyond repair.  My second gig wasn’t any better. I was sent to clean a laser printer and replace a few rollers but that didn’t fix the problem (the same printer flummoxed a veteran tech the next day).  I didn’t get any more calls after that, the excuse being that he was too busy to provide any training even though my lack of experience hadn’t come into play at all.

The one thing they always tell you about finding a job is to solicit people in your extended network.  I had specific challenges with this strategy since I had previously worked from home, in a new town and had no social life beyond my two young kids.  I thought it might be a good idea to volunteer locally in the community, meet new people and do something worthwhile in the process.  This was part of plan #5 but I didn’t get very far.  When I met with a local community organizer I discovered that all the volunteer opportunities were on nights and weekends when I didn’t have a babysitter.  I submitted a resume but so far no organizations have called me back.

The bills started piling up so I migrated to Plan 6 –  survival jobs.  Despite my willingness to do just about anything I’ve had a difficult time finding any jobs that pay the bare minimum, an after tax income that will cover the cost of the kids day care.  Thus I’m presently working on Plan 7 – writing.  I have starting creating less formal and more personal cover letters.  I have also taken a lot of the dense accomplishment statements out of my resume in favour of more direct, easy to comprehend facts.  In addition I am going to try my hand at prospecting letters and seeing if I can generate any leads from that.  I don’t have a plan 8 yet, perhaps I could look at taking another course, I’m not sure what else there is left to do.  Plan 9 of course involves both aliens and zombies!

Brand New World

Not long after I made my resume available  I received call backs from two very different companies, both with an interest in my inventory control background.  The first was a company that rebuilt diesel engines and needed someone to run their exchange program.  It was a good opportunity and right in line with my qualifications but in the end they choose to go with a gearhead instead.  Things went much better with the second company, an obscure insurance company based out of Winnipeg.  The job required me to assign values to a list of contents from an insurance claim.  They picked me because of my inventory background as there would be times when I would need to go on-site and do an inventory of contents myself.  It was for a time the best job I have ever had.

I primarily worked from home the first year having only three instances where I needed to go out into the field.   The first two I did alone as in one case the insured had died in the fire and the other was part of a fraud investigation.  The third inventory was done cooperatively with the insured as there had been significant friction with the adjuster and they wanted to introduce a neutral third party.  Working directly with the insured was a great experience, you really got the sense that you were helping someone.  It was also a much faster way to create a fair and accurate schedule of loss report.  It became the standard and the next year I did a dozen more inventories just like it.  The insureds were happy, the adjusters were happy, my bosses were happy and best of all everyone was making good money.  New business started pouring in which a included a huge new contract with the largest underwriter in the country.  What could go wrong?

There are two types of adjusters who work in the insurance industry, staff adjusters are employed directly by the underwriter and independent adjusters who work with a number of different insurance underwriters.  The staff adjusters loved us because we made their jobs easier however there was some resistance from the independent adjusters because their organizations provided similar services to what my company provided and in some ways we were in direct competition for business.  This created some awkward situations like one case where a client was obviously under insured after they suffered a total loss fire.  The adjuster wanted to declare a max claim but due to the new contract we had to sign off on it.  The adjuster sent me a list with a dozen $40,000 line items and wanted me to validate them.  My boss on the other hand, wanted to do a full inventory of the site since we billed by line item   A lengthy back & forth ensued and I didn’t have the authority to make the decision about what we should do.  A compromise of sorts was eventually reached and I did a partial inventory, enough to ensure that it would indeed be a max claim.  The adjuster wasn’t happy and he made that well known to the underwriter, the insureds weren’t happy, my bosses weren’t happy and I didn’t make any money.

The new contract changed everything, the most significant being the size of the claims themselves.  I used to be able to do all the claims from my territory but now there were so many and they were so large that I found myself repeatedly interrupting the claim I was working on to go out in the field on new business.  This was happening company wide and so they went out and hired several new people to try and get this surplus under control and bring our turnaround times back to our previous standard.  It was in the midst of all this that I came to meet Darlene and her family who sadly lost their home and everything in it on Christmas Eve.  Their adjuster told me they were having a really rough time of it and he personally asked me to do the best job I could and help them out.  I felt sorry for them so I sent away all my other work and spent an entire month of my life trying to make sense of the monstrosity that was their claim.

Typically when a restoration company does an inventory they produce three lists: what they restored, what they tried to restore but couldn’t and a list of stuff that was damaged beyond repair.  When my office got a hold of the paperwork for this claim there were over 50 lists, none were labeled, pages were missing and it was rife with duplications.  Thus what showed up on my computer when it was finally typed out was a 3000 line colossus, double the length of any report I had ever done and worse yet since I didn’t do the inventory myself I had no first hand knowledge of what exactly many of these items were.  I told my boss about it but his response was ‘just do it’.   I tried to let the adjuster know what I was up against but I was restricted in what I could actually say, and since adjusters are very busy individuals he didn’t really want to hear it.  The restoration company refused to return my calls and Darlene, while available, proved not to be all that helpful.  I don’t think it was possible to turn that abomination into a quality report and don’t know what I should have done differently.  The fallout from this and similar cases across the country was profound.

The big new contract was put on hold and worked dropped off precipitously.  A host of new rules were implemented which made processing the claims much less profitable and several cost cutting measures were introduced which also cut into my bottom line.  The owner called me and requested that I get a cell phone at my own expense.  I tried to cut a deal but they went ahead and hired a new person who already had a cell phone and while my hours were then reduced I kept on working for several months.  When I got the termination call from the owner he gave me the Darlene case, a full eight months ago, as the reason for letting me go.  He felt that if I had somehow charmed the adjuster a little more that he would have given us a pass for handing in such a poor quality report.  I informed him that I was in contact with my boss every day and I did exactly as I had been instructed to do.  That very same boss had been removed two weeks earlier.  Regardless I knew the real reason,  the company’s brand had been damaged and locally my brand had been damaged as well.  I have no hard feelings for either the owner or the company, they always treated me well and I will always appreciate the fact they gave me the chance to try something new.

The Unholy Alliance

Despite the wasteland which was the post 9/11 economy I was still fairly confident when I hit the job market and I was determined this time to get a job with a big company with a reputation as a good employer.  Almost immediately I scored an interview with Emerson, one of the highest rated employers in BC.   I made it past a couple rounds of interviews and it was down to me and one other person. The last round was a personality test where I was told “there are no wrong answers”.  Typically with these tests the choices are entirely arbitrary so I tried to pick up clues from my interviewer as to what he was looking to hear.  I didn’t get the job and the reason I was given was that I had described myself as more “expressive” than “poker faced” which apparently was a red flag that meant I could be emotional.

Thanks to a family friend I got a chance to work for a couple weeks at Creo, another of the best companies in BC.   I managed to get myself an interview there during my stay but I was told with my qualifications they couldn’t think of any job – in an organization with thousands of employees – that I could do.   I expanded my job search and was among the finalists for a purchasing job at General Fasteners but wasn’t able to close the deal.  What followed was a long dry spell, the longest  I had ever gone without working.  Thus when I finally landed another interview my standards were considerably lower and my confidence had been severely eroded.

I was interviewed by a confident young entrepreneur who had made his fortune off his encyclopedic knowledge of Compaq part numbers and knowing which ones could be substituted for each other.   The job was primarily inventory control, sourcing computer parts and flying them overnight to technicians who had time sensitive service contracts.  I was hired along with a sales manager who was a Ned Flanders clone right down to the green shirts and brown pants.  We were flown to the home office in Toronto for training and to give the young entrepreneur a chance to show off his new found wealth.  This included staying at his new house and hanging out on his new yacht with his new friends which included such luminaries as the remnants of the 80’s band Helix and members of the Toronto Rocks lacrosse team.

Right away I started to notice a pattern with how the new owner operated.  He worked with a manic intensity but more often than not it was counter productive.  He literally threw the stock onto the shelves all helter skelter, just like I had seen it in the home office, with no thought to how difficult it would be to find later when an order was placed.  Even the whole concept of a West Coast office was flawed.  His idea was to use the time difference to give him more hours in the day to ship product.  The problem with this logic was that the courier cut-off times were at the same time on both coasts.  Sales the first year were brutal despite non-stop cold calling by both myself and the sales manager.  The home office had kept all the national accounts and all we had been given to start were a couple local scraps.  Working with Ned was often tense.  He had a large family to support and he was under an incredible amount of stress.  He also did exacerbating things like when he figured out what I was owed in mileage reimbursement down to a tenth of a kilometer, not because he was cheap, but because he was fair to the point of absurdity.

This went on for about a year and then one day I showed up to work and a new sales manager was there along with his personal secretary.  He had been purchased away from a competitor and brought with him his own cadre of customers.  His specialty was printer parts and we did a good business for a couple years selling and exchanging  laser printer fusers.

While the three of us working locally had a great rapport there was a significant friction that developed between my sales manager and the young entrepreneur that owed the company.  The owner suffered from bipolar disorder and when he was not taking his medication my boss had to endure violent uncontrollable rages and lugubrious 3am phone calls.  It grew worse as our sales margins were squeezed by ever increasing freight costs and lower computer prices which enticed customers to replace than repair their equipment.  The owner, against the wishes of my sales manager, decided to have our fusers rebuilt using cheap third party parts.  This resulted in both a tsunami of defective returns and in our customers losing faith our products.  With the sales way down the local warehouse was closed and the sales manager, who was still under contract, worked out of his house for the last few months.  I stayed to the very end.  My boss was a terrific guy and he had taught me the secret of being a successful salesman – confidence.

P.O.S.

The inventory business was undergoing big changes, the most significant was the increasing use of bar-codes and counting based on SKUs instead of dollar values.  There is no skill involved in this style of counting and the company hired an army of minimum wage drones to do these jobs.  I was relegated to doing pharmacies (prescription drugs) and similar jobs that still required a good estimator.  I was able to use this turn of events to my advantage as it allowed me to open up a claim with Unemployment Insurance and I leveraged that to qualify for a program where I could collect UI while attending school full time.  After an exhaustive amount of research I had narrowed down my choices to two options, paralegal and IT.  However as I dug deeper I discovered that the laws were different in each territory and what constituted a paralegal in BC was vastly different than what their roles were in the US and Ontario.  In BC they had much less power and were essential legal secretaries with as much emphasis on typing skills as there was on actual legal knowledge.   An IT career therefore had a lot going for it including a brief six month course which included a co-op placement and high demand thanks to the Y2K craze.

The cost for the Technology Support Professional at BCIT was only $8000 most of which was borrowed from my father.  Much of the curriculum dealt with familiar subject matter, MS Office products, computer hardware, etc.  I managed straight As and even jumped the queue a bit by getting certified in both Comptia A+ and N+ before the course was completed.  I did a host of interviews for my unpaid co-op placement but didn’t get any offers.  The feedback I got from my councilor was that I came across as too verbose and too forthright.  Basically I had bluntly told each one of them that my interest was in finding a permanent job.  In the end my eventual placement with Canadian Pacific Hotels which was geographically inconvenient and not a particularly good employment opportunity.   They were a great company and I did enjoy many perks but I didn’t learn much, I reset a few passwords, moved a few computers around and installed some software updates.  While I was there Nokia was installing a wireless network in the lobby.  I inquired about a job with them and was directed to Zoolink a small local company that was renting and selling wireless NIC cards to people waiting at the airport.  I worked with them for a few months but I could tell that their business model wasn’t going to work out.  However while working at the airport I did manage to meet Ken who was the vice president of a P.O.S. (Point of Sale) company and he gave me the lead to my next job.

Conveniently the P.O.S. company was only a few blocks from my house and John, the president, welcomed me into his office where we had a long conversation about business.  John didn’t have a job for me right away but he seized upon my knowledge of inventory control and paid me $500 to write a report about their current operation.  He liked that enough that he hired me to build 400 PCs and to test all the laser printers they had just sold to the BC liquor board.  Once that project was completed he offered me a job as a field service technician, but I declined the offer.  The truth of the matter was that I didn’t have a valid drivers license at the time and I couldn’t legally do the work.  Once I got my license I told him I was ready to accept the job but it was too late as they no longer had an opening and I was already entrenched in another role, as the Returned Materials Manager.

When I was brought on to take care of RMAs I became the 11th member of the operations team.   The senior bench tech had two months of unused vacation, which they forced him to take and I was given his work station.  While I did repair a few laser printers, mostly what I did was overhaul the returned materials process and dramatically reorganize the warehouse.   At the time returns were assigned little more than a post-it note.  More often than not the item was just swapped with a similar item from our stock and never returned.  Over time this caused our stock to age and when the incoming item was beyond repair it caused shrink.  I assigned RMA numbers and created a spreadsheet that linked them to the work order number.  In the warehouse I took all the parts and alphabetized them by manufacturer and part number.   In the process I found many duplicates and cleared out a lot of dead stock for items that were no longer in service.  This caused some friction with the senior bench tech when he returned but my system was kept and he was let go.  While my changes greatly improved the work flow through the warehouse they weren’t enough to compensate for a severe downturn in business.

The niche exploited by the P.O.S. company was being the last company to service a particular line of products.  While this worked out for them in the long run, it caused significant disruptions when primary customers eventually upgraded to new systems with full warranties.  During my tenure we lost the two biggest customers we had in BC, which in turn caused major layoffs that reduced our department to just five people.  Worse yet there were problems in other parts of the company which resulted in the closing of the Toronto office.  This brought about the return of Ken the VP or as he came to be known: Captain Chaos.   While I liked Ken on a personal level having to work with him on a daily basis became a real challenge.  A typical incident would begin when Ken would call me from a job site where he was supposed to perform an installation except that he would forget some of his parts.  I would then send out the shipper out to deliver them to him only to get a call from the shipper saying he couldn’t find Ken and we couldn’t call him because he would also forget to charge his phone.   It got to the point where I had to go directly to John and the service manager to get approval for unsigned purchase orders and dozens of other issues that needed attention.  Ken was infuriated, he felt that I had gone over his head and it completely soured our relationship.  When things got so bad that they had to layoff some field service technicians they gave one of them my job instead.  In the three years since I had left the inventory company I had adapted well and been successful in a diversity of roles, however when it was all said and done there was still one thing that had not changed.  I did not have a career in IT

Project Victory

From the moment I arrived on the West Coast I had a specific goal – to get a job.  I had no restrictions on where or when I could work; I was willing to do anything so I applied to everything.  I scored interviews with a Shell station, a video rental place and a Radio Shack.  I was likely too preppy for the teenage girl who interviewed me at the gas station.  The Video rental place actually hired me then called me back later to rescind the offer.  At Radio Shack I got as far as the ethics test where I didn’t know the correct answer to such context free gems as “What percentage of people smoke marijuana”.   However I did land a part time gig working for an inventory counting service.

At the inventory company I wanted to get on the full-time crew and to do that I had to improve my count per hour – a measured goal.  I knew I couldn’t compete against those people who had superior manual dexterity however by applying the Pareto Principle, which is the law of the vital few, I could accomplish the same results a different way.  What mattered most was the value of the actual inventory not the specific quantity thus if you were careful not to make any mistakes on the twenty percent of the stock that had the most value you could get by with just guessing at the other eighty percent.    It didn’t take me long to become a highly proficient estimator and a valuable part of the team.

I transferred from a satellite office to the regional headquarters and within a year I was running small inventories on my own.  It appeared that a promotion from an hourly worker to a salaried manager was an attainable goal.  At the time I applied all the other managers were former clerks and most were the same age as me.  The first phase was an IQ test where I tied the highest score ever recorded in the company.  However I was done in by the personality test when my result was a circle instead of the preferred triangle.  It was all part of Project Victory, a company-wide program geared toward improving service levels and profitability.  A new breed of managers with heavy sales backgrounds were brought in while the existing clerk-turned-managers were forced out and in some cases fired.

I moved on to a different goal, something realistic and entirely within my control, saving up to buy a car.  I had already started looking for other jobs but I found that my choices were severely limited since they had to have access to public transit.  I also thought a vehicle would help on the relationship front since the one and only date I had landed since moving out west ended prematurely when she discovered that I didn’t have a set of wheels.  Things improved remarkably when I got the opportunity to join a special crew that toured Canada-wide doing inventories for Wal-mart.  I lived off my paltry per diem allowance for several months and managed to save over five thousand dollars.  The car I eventually purchased was from my father and I paid significantly less that than what I had saved for it.  A new girlfriend was in the mix too, allegedly secured before the car, and all was right with the world.

I really enjoyed my time working for the inventory company but looking back I didn’t have timed goals and stayed much too long.  The company was a career dead end, even for the people who worked as managers.  A typical case was a friend of mine who went from there to managing a Subway restaurant (and briefly became my eighteenth employer when I helped him out one Christmas).  On the bright side I would never have met my wife if I hadn’t stuck around and the two years we worked together were a lot of fun.  The final straw came when another promotion, one that would have relocated us to the United States fell through when the company was unable to secure us work visas.   Soon afterward she was promoted into the office and I made myself a new, and what I hoped to be a SMART goal. I decided to go back to school again.

Slack to the Future

I was always somewhat jealous of kids who had a clear vision with what they wanted to do with their lives.  I took on one of every subject in school, I participated in drama club, the school newspaper, student council, the chess team,  the wrestling team, and many more, all in the hopes that one day a skill would reveal itself and I could move forward in one direction.  After my initial fiasco in business school my university career took on the same pattern and by the fall of 92 when most of my friends had moved on with their lives I was left with a big collection of courses that didn’t add up to anything.  I went in to see a school councilor to find out the minimum requirements I needed to graduate with a degree.  The answer was two courses and at that moment I became a communications major.  My father was tapped out financially and having only worked sparingly the previous summer for City Directory, a junk mail address aggregator, I had to beg my maternal grandmother to pay for them.

Once I was no longer a full time student I qualified for a government sponsored wage subsidy program.  My first opportunity under this program was with a local OEM shop called Future Computer where I built custom 386/40 IBM clones.   This was a really good job.  I learned a lot, I was having fun and everything was going great until the day they found a broken processor chip.  Someone pointed the finger at me, which wasn’t true at all, but irregardless, suspicions were raised.  I would likely have been OK except, as luck would have it the very next day I did indeed break something.  I was powering up a completed system and I happened to dislodge one of the metal spacers that cover the card slots.  This caused an electrical short, which fried a video card and led to my immediate dismissal.

I rebounded immediately with a completely different assignment, working for a broker with AIC Investments.  My role was to update his customer database, which was in shambles as he was just getting his life back together after a long struggle with alcoholism.  He would regale me with his tales of former glory and lecture me on the horrors of substance abuse.  He in fact told me that he could tell by my blood shot eyes that I was obviously using something.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.   I was to be trained by his daughter, a hostess at a gentlemans club who really despised training her father’s assistants, a point she made abundantly clear during our one and only session together. I had had enough so I jumped shipped and landed in a whole different pile of crazy.

My final placement was at Champion Paper & Polybags, owned by the Sood brothers who were suddenly shorthanded as they were embroiled in a gruesome murder trial.  They had recently purchased a comprehensive accounting package called Business Visions II and because they were either unable or unwilling to put in the proper data their books were an absolute mess.  I spent two months updating inventory records and reconciling payments against invoices.  I enjoyed my time there and I was able to make a real difference however on the last day of my subsidy there was a newly subsidized hire ready to take my place.

The future has a way of happening regardless of your plans and some big rubicons cannot be avoided.  In the spring of 93 my paternal grandmother passed away.  On the morning before her funeral I wrote my final university exam and in an odd coincidence, it was also the day my girlfriend and I moved into an apartment together.  The suite was really cheap but it was also so small that it didn’t even have a sink in the bathroom.  Thanks to a tip from a friend I got a walk on job doing asbestos removal however there was some confusion over the fact that I was never actually hired so after a couple weeks they asked me not to come back.  At that point I seriously considered going to college and acquiring an actual skill.  I looked into becoming a lab tech, going as far as visiting a working lab and doing the orientation.   My girlfriend had us visit a friend of a friend who worked as a hair stylist but fancied herself a psychic.  The hairdresser suggested that I become a bookkeeper.  She also told my girlfriend that we would get married and have lots of kids.  She said it was inevitable, to which I responded, “Well I’m avoiding the inevitable as long as possible“.

In fairness it is one thing to procrastinate when an obvious task is at hand however I was stuck vacillating between several vague ideas.  I eventually decided against college because I had already been a full time student for nearly five years and I reached a point where I was just sick of being poor.  My focus then shifted to getting myself out of Windsor but I didn’t have any money and I didn’t have a cohesive plan.  At this point my mother stepped in with a temping offer, she would pay me $500 if I was willing to move 2500 miles west, to a suburb of Vancouver British Columbia.   I didn’t know anyone out there and even her proposed relocation was still several months away but with no other offers and nothing to lose, I accepted.   I didn’t think I would be gone for very long and my good byes were very casual, all except the one I had with my 87 yr old paternal grandfather.  He was very serous, perhaps sensing that he would never see me again or perhaps recalling his own youth when at my age he embarked on a similar journey.  He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Have a nice life.”