“Keep your friends close and the loyal friends closer. No one needs enemies.” JSM

 

Chapter Five

 

Phase two.

In theory, the second phase of most anything should be fairly easy or easier to become accustomed to. We get most of what we need for knowledge during phase one to make future phases potentially stress-free.

Typically the first phase of a new job takes ninety days (depending). For the first few months with new employment, new people and different rules: you walk on eggshells, try to stand out, learn quickly, make an impression, and eventually deemed worthy by a hierarchy (or not); then “graduate” to the next phase.  If you don’t graduate, or it doesn’t work out to your advantage, you seek something elsewhere.  Phase three may be a promotion, or a standard annual raise.

Once graduated, the orientation completed, and you’re ingrained in the job’s second phase, you’re probably micromanaged in some fashion; but not watched or monitored as strictly as you would be during the orientation process. Maybe a random casual walk-through by a superior. Perhaps a check in from time to time.

Phase one of obtaining a driver’s license may include reading the drivers manual, taking some classes, and watching some videos. You train with professionals and folks who have a license, take a mandatory test, and if considered worthy of solo travel on the road you graduate to become a licensed driver.

Standard education has multiple levels ending with the completion of high school, then beyond to higher education. Each tier in higher education has its own phases.

Phase two of BizarroTech involved a weekend trip to another country. I literally couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  The bulk of our dialogue was me being convinced that attending this function would have magnificent benefits, a wonderful learning experience, and will make future phases easier.

The interested party I discovered over that summer, couldn’t join in the adventure and I couldn’t blame them.  It was a shot in the dark asking in the first place and I knew long term, deep down inside, they wouldn’t stay involved with the project. That’s ok. Some things are not meant for everyone.

Nonetheless, it was time to travel and stay a weekend in Canada for what I have named, the “Computer Seminar.”

Some out of state BizarroTech friends joined the caravan north and Bill led the way. Each vehicle met at a rendezvous point, mapped out the plan, and hit the road at a specific time. The line of vehicles included three SUVs, and me bringing up the rear in a compact, relatively new, four door family sedan.

Here, in this part, I interject one personal lesson.

If a close friend, (someone you trust) rushes out the door, comes to you in obvious distress, calls you in a panic, sends you a text with exclamation marks, and the first words spoken or read are, “don’t leave,” take those words under advisement, even if it sounds silly. Rethink the plan. Allow possibilities to roam in your mind without borders.

Packing the trunk of the car my good buddy rushes up to me, “don’t leave.”

“Why?”

“Just got a call from dad. Big storm coming down and you’ll be heading right into it.”

“I can drive in the snow, dude.  It’ll be alright.”

“Yeah, but you don’t have to go. That’s the thing. Don’t risk it. It’ll be a blizzard. We’re talking potential feet in a short time.”

“I’ll see you Monday.”

I clapped him on the forearm, smiled, and walked away. I really should’ve listened. While I believe that who we are today is a culmination of our life experiences, both good and bad, I truly wish the “Computer Seminar” never happened. It’s among the accolades of dumb stuff I’ve participated in.

But if I hadn’t, I never would’ve learned.

The estimate was many hours of driving before the ten pm arrival at the conference center and hotel complex.

In my youth I had a couple of neighborhood friends. Not a bunch, but a few close pals. We either biked or walked everywhere we went. Coming back from a nearby store one afternoon a thunderclap was heard in the distance. We brushed it off and continued home with our bag of candy and suddenly the thunder boomed again.

It was strange to us at the time, the sun bright and shining, while thunder approached from behind without a cloud to be seen. Then a few minutes later the clouds gathered and darkened the sky. The sun still visible, but above the trees to both sides and all around, the storm approached.

My friend and I laughed as the rain hit the street a few hundred feet behind us and the wall of water chased us home. Every few seconds we’d steal a look over our shoulders, fighting to stay ahead of it and see the wet road with a space of dry in between. Eventually the wall of rainwater gained speed and soaked over us but as a kid growing up, to me, it was either raining outside, or it wasn’t. Watching it happen in real time and almost being a part of the experience, was a treat for me.

As an adult, I appreciate and respect nature. In some cases, I fear nature’s wrath. Nature can be sudden, unpredictable, and overwhelming.  A lot of times one can’t predict what the outcome will be.  You believe and expect the worst will happen, but wish for the best possible ending.

Almost to the Canadian border, along a stretch of lonely winding terrain with only a fire road every few miles, and the time in the evening when headlights are necessary, a wall of white appeared out of nowhere and blanketed the vehicle. My small car enveloped in nature in the span of a heartbeat.

Dry road, covered in snow, in a matter of seconds.

I had to make a snap decision. Turn around and head back at best possible speed, or stay the course and finish the adventure.

Unfortunately, sometimes I pick the wrong fork in the road and this time around, I decided to battle the blizzard approaching from the north.

The first clue provided that I made the wrong decision, was watching the taillights of the caravan disappear into the storm ahead and eventually fade away into darkness.

The second clue was almost being crushed to death by a state plow truck.

 

 

 

 

 

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