|After four years doing the
morning show on WBAM-FM, Oldies 98, Bob Brennan decided to cut his losses
and reached a lease management agreement (LMA) with Al Stroh, Manager for
Montgomery Broadcast Properties. The station would then go Country
Format for a year, then it went Contemporary.
I had lost interest in radio and thought this was as good a time as any to venture into something else. Unfortunately, most radio people are ill equipped at functioning in the "real" world. In Kathy's job at the time she had fortune to meet many people. Her company was the exclusive Apple-McIntosh dealer in Montgomery and through her computer connections she had met Robert Scott, who was then the Manager of the local Office Depot store. She suggested that I call Robert and see if he had anything to offer.
Office Depot was in need of a "Business Machines Specialist" in 1994 and I needed a job. In every Office Depot store there are usually one or two Business Machine Specialists. They are the sales associates for computers, printers, copiers and other technology items. At that time they offered an incentive program for sales. They only way I would be able to survive and continue to pay my bills was to "hit" the goals to get the extra incentive money. The other Specialist and I worked together to make sure we hit "bonus" every time. Except for the occasional pain-in-the-butt customer the job wasn't so bad. I remember sitting with another associate in the break room eating lunch when one of our newer hires got on the store intercom system and "Bid-ness Ma-cheen, Bid-ness Ma-cheen, you got a call on line foe". The associate sitting with me said, "Good God, next it will be 'Yo, Yo, Yo, Bid-ness Ma-cheen, pick up da fone!'" Thank goodness, I was gone before it got that bad.
After a little over a year of Office Depot, Kathy talked with a former co-worker of hers who said she had been hired by BDM Technologies to help train a new mainframe software program the company was authoring for the State of Alabama Dept. of Human Resources. She told Kathy they were looking for trainers and I should apply. The down side of the job was that it was only a 6-month contract for training Child Support Caseworkers and Supervisors across the State of Alabama.
In February 1995, I interviewed with Joan Foss of BDM, and was hired. I turned in my notice at Office Depot and started with BDM Technologies in March of 1995. The software written for the State of Alabama was called "ALECS" which stands for Alabama Enforcement and Collection System. This mainframe software would support Child Support for the Dept. of Human Resources in the State of Alabama.
Delays in getting the software ready and training sites arranged took over a year. I finally did train the system in May of 1996. After returning from my several weeks of training at my site in Decatur, Alabama, I became one of the leads in authoring Computer Based Training (or CBT) that would support the training we had just done. After training I went into product support of the software and became a functional analyst.
I called my Mother who was now living in Metairie, Louisiana, (suburb of New Orleans) in a small apartment. It was sometime in June of 1998. I had called her to ask what she was going to do about an approaching hurricane. She said she couldn't leave. She couldn't even get out of bed because of the pain that she was having with Osteoporosis. I told her she would have to go to my sister's home in Baton Rouge to ride out the storm. She said that was out of the question. If that was the case, I would make plans to go to New Orleans and ride out the storm with her if she wasn't going to leave. I never did have to make the trip. My sister Judy and her husband Jim went to New Orleans and got mother. When they got there she was in terrible pain and couldn't even get out of bed. Until this time, it was very unusual if my Mom ever got sick! She was healthy and outgoing. Jim carried her to the car and they escaped to Baton Rouge. Unfortunately, the hurricane turned and hit Baton Rouge instead of New Orleans, but they were all safe. On the other hand, Mother would never return to New Orleans again. Something was causing this pain, so we got her checked into Sacred Heart Hospital in Baton Rouge. I traveled to Baton Rouge on the day she was to get results of her tests. When I got to her room around 9 AM, she was sleeping on her back. I was amazed at just how frail she had become. I was sitting there with her just watching her sleep when a nurse came in the door and screamed, "Ms. Ida, do you need to use the bathroom!" Mother jumped from her sleep and assured the nurse that she was fine. I asked Mom if she was also suffering from hearing loss. She said she didn't think so. I told her I was just wondering because that nurse most certainly thought she was deaf.
Mother was surprised to see me that day. She was amazed that I would drive all the way from Montgomery to Baton Rouge, just to hear some test results. I told her then that I was concerned for her and wanted to be with her; that she was the "most influential" person in my life. She almost looked taken-back when I told her this, but it was the truth. There is no one who had more influence over the person that I have become, than my Mom. (I'll just let her have credit for the good things about me).
The news wasn't good that day. The cause of her pain was Multiple Miloma, a form of bone cancer. The Doctor's best guess on the length of her remaining days with us, was from three to four years.
Mother moved in with sister Judy and family, but it was soon more than Judy could handle. Getting Mother to the Doctor, and getting her medications for pain plus tending her family was more than most anyone could endure. On one of my weekend visits, Jim and I toured a assisted-care living facility in Baton Rouge. It was decided that Mother would get an apartment there and I would handle moving her things from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. It was a sad time. I had to get movers to pack and move her items. Most of the things my Mother had were things that I remember as a child. Not only keepsakes, but pots and pans. I would ask her why she didn't get new ones. She would ask me why, when those were perfectly fine. When we got all her belongings to Baton Rouge, I tried to arrange the apartment to as close to as she had it in New Orleans. The apartment would server her nicely for about three years. We tried to visit her at least once a month between 1998 and her death on May 8, 2002.
On June 30, 2001, it was planned that we would leave early on Saturday morning to go visit my Mom. We usually got up very early (around 3AM) so we could get to Baton Rouge for enough time to visit. On this Saturday, we were waiting for Kevin, my 2nd son, who was a student at Auburn and had just gotten off of his job around 4:30 AM. He worked at an all night chicken place in Auburn. We were a little late leaving, but got on the road before the sun came up. About an hour in to our 6 hour drive, fog was on I-65. The 18-wheeler in front of us started putting on brakes and stopped on the interstate. I swerved our car around the truck to see why he was stopping and saw something in the middle of the interstate. I couldn't make out what it was. In the next few minutes I would discover that the "something" was what was left of an automobile. There was an 18-wheeler parked on the side of the interstate (with markers placed properly). Apparently, the driver fell asleep and ran into the back of the 18-wheeler at 70 MPH. The scene was very disturbing. The roof of the car had been torn off on impact. The car contained a grandmother, grandfather and three small grandchildren. The grandfather, who was the driver, was the only one alive in the car, and he would later die at the hospital. We waited on the interstate more than two hours as the bodies were removed from the wreckage. I talked with everyone about just turning around and going back home. Maybe we'd try the next weekend. But, Kevin wouldn't be able to go the following weekend, so we decided to press ahead. The entire weekend, that accident was on my mind, haunting me.
The following day, Sunday, July 1, 2001, we left Baton Rouge to head back to Montgomery. The drive back was hampered by hit & miss showers. We stopped in Mobile, Alabama, to get something to eat, then got back on the road. Just past the Atmore exit on I-65 Northbound, we ran into another rain shower, but this shower had heavier rain. I started to pass slower traffic in the right lane and merged into the left lane. Suddenly, the car was hydroplaning. I had no control over the car. We ran off the interstate into the grass between our Northbound lanes and the Southbound traffic lanes. Fearing that we would go into oncoming traffic, I eased my foot on the brake and tried to get back on the interstate. This action only spun us around backwards across the Northbound lanes, full of cars, and down the embankment on the side of the interstate. We were going backwards down the ditch with trees flying past my drivers window. I knew we were going to hit something hard. When the car came to a stop, we had somehow hit a tree on the passenger side.
BDM Technologies merged with TRW in 1999, and I became a TRW employee. Then, in 2003, TRW merged with Northrop-Grumman, becoming the second biggest defense contractor in the world. Originally, I was in the Mission Systems Division, then in September of 2003, I moved to the Information Technology Division.
My six-month contract developed into a position which has served me well now for over 8 years.
In 2003, Kathy and I purchased 3 acres of land in Cecil, Alabama, and built a home. I'll have more on that story soon, right here.
|Thank you for spending time with me!|
|Last updated September 14, 2003|