From: 519 Redwood City - BASE (Hex 218, 70)
Great story that I loved reading. Thanks, Mac.
Indeed. Thank you very much, Mac.
Oh, and Semper Fi!
Marine Corps from 1989-1993, MOS - 0151 (Admin Pogue). Was in boot camp at San Diego exactly two weeks after high school graduation. Could not wait to get out of the house...
Relatively unspectacular stint, and kept out of office hours (unfortunately, a very common event where I was stationed). After boot camp and ICT (Infantry Combat Training) I was off to Admin School for three months, then returned to MCRD San Diego for duty at Headquarters Battalion. And there I remained for the remainder of my tour, doing paperwork every day, and dressing up for ceremonial muster every Friday morning. Got dirty going to CRT (Combat Readiness Training, for non-0300 types) at Camp Pendleton every six months, and qualifying at the range, which I absolutely loved. Made Sharpshooter in boot camp (five points shy of expert on a very windy day) and Expert every time since. Ultimately, though an obviously excellent military branch, I found that the Marine culture personally wasn't my cup of tea and I honorably discharged after four years.
I know exactly about the quality of people you worked with. Marines tend to hold themselves to an exceptionally high standard in every aspect.
Had difficulty in the civilian sector after getting out and joined the Coast Guard in 1995. Had a much better experience this time around, especially in boot camp. In fact, (except for the Cape May, NJ winter), I found Coast Guard boot camp rather enjoyable - no doubt a result of being hardened by the experiences in Marine Corps boot camp. I could even out-cadence most of the company commanders and was often called to march the company! After graduating I was stationed for six months on the USCGC Courageous (MEC 622, a 210' cutter) in Panama City, Florida, while on a wait-list for Avionics Technician A-School. A-School was exactly what I hoped it would be: eight hours a day, five days a week of nothing but Ohms Law, trons, engineers manuals, and tons of math! We were trained to troubleshoot everything electronic on an aircraft down to the component level. My soldering skills were particularly noted by the chief instructor as being "very clean", and of "having a nice touch".
Graduated A-School and was stationed to service and help fly HC-130s at Air Station, Sacramento, CA. The cool thing about Coast Guard aircrews is that they fly as crewmen on missions as well as servicing the aircraft when parked on the ramp, so AVTs also flew as radiomen, navigators, and radar operators. Enjoyed the duty, the prestige of being an aircrewman, and had plenty of time off even with 1-in-4 duty rotation (on emergency call every four days). But I fell in love with California and decided to get out in 2000 and try to make a life here. It's been a roller coaster ride ever since, with more down slopes (and a couple of crashes) than up slopes...
I took the obvious course and got work servicing avionics at a local airport. Eventually I discovered, to my disappointment, that for the job I needed as much metalworking skills as electronic skills, and I had none of the former. It was needed for upgrades and modifications to aircraft avionics. If you installed new, non-standard equipment you also had to fabricate the mounts for them, and the FAA has very strict mandates on how mounts are fabricated and installed in aircraft. Surprisingly, metalworking actually consumed more time than anything else. In C-130s, all the mounting hardware you'll ever need in the avionics and cargo bay is already there. Furthermore, as good as I thought I was with aircraft systems, my competency was nowhere near that of the civilian techs who have been there doing the job for decades. It wasn't going to last, and I admitted as much to my boss, who expressed his appreciation to my critical self-analysis. He offered me a position in the admin section of the office but I turned it down.
Tried returning to school and have been in and out of college a few times. Got good grades and did particularly well in math and trig, even tutored on the subject, but for some reason I just couldn't stick it out for the duration. It's been a very troubling thing; I don't understand it.
Landed a good job at Centex Homes in San Ramon as an assistant project manager (this position recommended the applicant be a college grad, but I impressed well enough to get the position even though I hadn't finished college). Eventually however, the internal politics, egos and personality conflicts, as well as some open racism (I'm mixed race) made the job unbearably difficult and I resigned after little over one year. Centex itself was acquired not long after.
On the side, I started my own little business of consulting and building PCs and workstations. It was a bit informal as I built gaming PCs as a hobby, but it began to take on a life of it's own, growing by word-of-mouth more than anything else. I received some pretty nice checks while doing that, at times more than my salary at Centex, but things started getting complex with licencing and legal issues and as I was the only guy in the enterprise it became overwhelming. It eventually petered out.
The last good job I had was at Sony in Foster City. That wasn't to last, either: my department closed shop and moved to San Diego, and there was no option to tag along.
That was two years ago and I've been unemployed ever since. I've been subsisting mostly on my own savings but that will disappear soon. My problem is that I tend to be extremely hard on myself, and I tend to avoid personal relationships and social situations. I have no family, no siblings, and both parents died many years ago, so I rely on myself for counsel - not always the best of situations, admittedly. I had a nervous breakdown after Centex ("friends" suddenly disappeared, the girlfriend at the time left abruptly the day I quit, the "business" was dying, and I had difficulty finding new work) and admitted myself to a hospital because I was becoming suicidal, and I remained there for several months for treatment.
Everyone experiences difficulties, but my attitude and outlook has the effect of magnifying things way beyond their reasonable bounds. I'm able to say that looking back in hindsight, but it's very difficult for me to adjust that perspective in the present time. Your post went a long way in making me feel better, and I really appreciate you taking the time to post it.
Ok, sorry. I've hijacked this thread enough!
EDIT: P.S. @ JWE - Thanks for that. Noted your comments after I posted.
< Message edited by Treetop64 -- 4/28/2012 8:30:27 PM >