Saturday, September 5, 2009

Present day....trucking along

I realized I haven't really talked about what my husband has been doing since getting furloughed. A year ago when the furlough first occurred, he came up a plan. He decided to get his real estate license. At first I was against it, because I am and have always been a person that likes that guaranteed bi-weekly paycheck. I didn't (and still don't) like the idea of going indefinite amounts of time before a pay check comes in. It's too unstable and nerve-racking. In the end, he convinced me it was a reasonable idea. For one thing, he had already taken a real estate class in VA (he never got licensed). He also owned a rental property and and gone through the process of buying and selling 3-4 houses himself, so he was pretty familiar with everything about real estate and knew a lot about it. It would be a quick process to get licensed and he even did his research in talking to brokers in our area and finding out more about how everything was going. He got offered a job with one broker and decided to go ahead and try things out. Also, since he was collecting unemployment, he was able to stay on it until he actually made a profit, so aside from the cost of getting licensed and some other real estate agent fees he wouldn't be out a ton of money. He tried it for a couple months and nothing was happening. He did countless open houses, put out flyers, went to some of those "business people of *insert name of town here*" gatherings, etc... I think the market was just too crappy. Nothing was moving. Finally he threw in the towel realizing he wasn't going to make money doing that job. Back to the drawing board. I realize I'm biased being that I'm his wife, but I'm convinced my husband is very very smart. He has very mechanical mind, he just understands how things work. I know a lot of people are like this, but I'm not one of them, so I admire this quality. Anything mechanical, he just kind of automatically gets, can fix, can improve, etc... I've seen him change out light fixtures and ceiling fans, rewire cable, install wireless internet, change the touch screen on his phone, etc... He also knows a lot about computer stuff. He's been able to walk me through many many computer issues, including ones at work that I doubt I could have gotten IT people in my own office to figure out. He also writes music software as a hobby and knows how to build radio control cars, planes, and helicopters. It's not even just that he knows how to do the basic functions of these hobbies, but he also knows how to improve them. Like with writing software, in addition to the music software he writes, when he was flying he also wrote software that sorts pilot scheduling bids. When doing real estate he came up with a program that matched up owner addresses/phone numbers with for-sale-by-owner listings. With his RC hobby, he can actually improve the speed and different aspects of the maneuvering because he just understands how do it. I just think not everyone thinks outside the box like his does and can come up with these ideas and successfully implement them. I think he's brilliant.
Anyway, that being said, my husband was applying for any and every kind of job and by this time had dropped his standards quite significantly and was actually applying for any old lowly job (we're talking warehouse worker at Lowe's, Autozone clerk, Sprint phone salesmen, etc...). He wasn't get any offers. Which was sad. And also depressing for him. As if it's not hard enough to lose your career, you can't even get a lowly job. It's the most depressed and low I've ever seen him. To the point that I actually went and talked to an EAP counselor at my job because after a while I didn't know how to deal with him like that. I went back and forth between cheerleader and getting frustrated/tired of him being so dumpy about it all and feeling like enough was enough. He was just sooooooo down and depressed. It was hard.
Eventually he heard about some pilots talking about doing truck driving. He started looking into it and started thinking about doing it. This was a similar scenario to the whole real estate scenario in that he slowly justified it as being a logical idea to me. He would be traveling/away (we're already used to that from him flying), the pay sounded potentially decent from what he could deduce, it was something he was capable to getting trained to do quickly and fairly easily and would be able to start doing it soon. Also, he didn't want to wait around for something better to come along because eventually there would come a time when unemployment would run out and he didn't want to be stuck in a panic without a job. So he signed up for CDL school (about 5 weeks long) and began truck driving. First off, if it's not already completely obvious, aviation and trucking are two VERY different industries. Different kinds of people, different "culture" etc... It is/was comical. The process at the company Greg chose was actually fairly rigorous. He chose a flat-bed semi company because the pay was supposed to be better with more work involved (tarping and strapping the loads) and because this company tried to give you weekends off, were as a lot of companies kept the drivers out for weeks at a time. He's been doing the job about 6 months now and absolutely hates it. The pay is not what he thought it would be. He's gone at least 5 days a week and sometimes only gets to come home for like 30 hours. It's been a hot summer and he sleeps in a truck he's not allowed to keep running at night that gets sweltering hot. The labor part of the job is really hard, especially in the heat. He gets drenched in sweat daily tarping and strapping the loads on to the flat bed. He's lost between 15-20 lbs since he started. It's also dangerous, a lot of guys fall, get hit with something, etc... The company has completely unrealistic expectations on how long it takes to tarp and strap and drive to the destination his loads get delivered to. They frequently ask him to cheat on his log book and lie about how long he has rested or how long it's taken him to load in order to give him more drive time. This is a problem not only because it's illegal, but also because if he ever did cheat and get caught and get a ticket, it could affect his aviation career, since pilots can't have violations on their driving records and he fully intends to go back to flying. He's EXHAUSTED every day. He's miserable every day.
I want to tell him to quit, but I saw the months he tried finding another job before resorting to this and he could not find anything. And that's when we had his unemployment, which now we wouldn't have if he were to quit. I can't support us on my salary alone. He's been looking/applying for other jobs, but so far hasn't heard anything. He really doesn't have a ton of time to dedicate to searching and applying though because he barely has any downtime. It's a catch 22. So that's where we're at right now.

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