Hit the Road, Jackie

This is an entry for Blogging for Books #12. It’s been a while since I submitted one, so I thought I’d give it a shot. It’s funny, one of the others wrote about her honeymoon to Disneyworld. I had thought about that since my own 16th wedding anniversary arrives on Saturday, June 11. But the trip was a delight — no memorable stories to tell except that hubby and I enjoyed our time together.
But that’s not the story. This is. Pretend the window blurs as you travel back in time to Graduation Day at American University on Sunday, May 10, Mother’s Day. It’s a sunny day in Washington, DC. My stupid hair doesn’t cooperate and looks awful under the mortar board. I’m moody because here I am about to graduate and for the first time in my life, I don’t know what comes next. A job has yet to land in my lap.

A couple of days before graduation, someone told me to make sure I take lots of pictures because she didn’t and regretted it. Well, I am in a bad mood, so of course, I don’t want to take pictures. The only picture I have of that day is the one walking across the stage with my tongue sticking out as the @(#$ cameraman manages to catch me just as I say, “Th…” as in “Thank you.”
And I am serious when I say my hair looks like crap in the cap. So, tongue sticking out, hair looking crappy and it’s the only picture I have of that day. I just can’t shake out of my mood. I’m a planner and I’m stuck without the most important plan… life after college.
For goodness sakes, my 89 year-old grandmother came in for the special occasion! It is the first and only time she visits me in D.C. My husband, brother, sister, parents… all here and I act like a b… witch.
Graduation comes and goes. I spend my days typing letter after letter, sending and faxing my resume. I think I got a call, but it doesn’t lead to an interview. I learn about a job fair for people with disabilities at the University of Maryland, so I go. When I enter the reception room, I see it isn’t a big one, so I don’t get my hopes up. I pass out my resume and talk to a guy named Kevin who happens to be deaf. He works for the Department of Transportation (DOT).
A few days later, Joan from the Department of Transportation calls me and says they want me to come in for an interview. Whoa! I take the Metro (subway) to L’Enfant Plaza thinking how strange and cool it is to stop at L’Enfant Plaza for a job interview instead of as a tourist.
I meet with Joan and another gal from the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST). The job is management training program intern. Interns rotate in three positions within the Department of Transportation, attend training, and then get a permanent position at the end of the one-year program. There are a few tracks: human resources, accounting, and I am blanking on the others.
As I wait for Joan, my heart thumps hard and I worry about whether or not I’ll understand the person interviewing me. Joan comes out with a smile on her face that eases my nervousness and introduces herself. I can understand her! Wheewwwww…. relief… city. Then she introduces me to another person that will do the interview. What? Two people? Great, another person to lipread.
I hide my nervousness with my Texas smile as we walk into the office for the interview. Joan directs me to sit in the executive chair so I can see both interviewers. By now, I’m at home. They understood what I needed and made it easier on me with the simple gesture of letting me sit in the executive chair.
The interview goes smoothly although I did pause when they asked if I had ever been in a leadership role. I admit I’ve never been a natural leader. Maybe being the youngest of three and mostly growing up alone has something to do with it. I’m more of an independent rather than a follower.
We say our good-byes. I write a thank you note like a good girl and suddenly remember when I’ve been in a leadership role… as a student teacher! Duh! I felt better as I clearly answer the question in the letter. I mail it and forget about it. Who knows how long the process takes.
Oh, the trip part? That’s here now.
Paul gets a business trip to Atlanta. Since I have nothing better to do and cheap tickets become available. So I decide to join him there, but I leave a day before he does (he travels with a team) and stay with cousins. We park and ride on MARTA (subway) to the Underground and the Coca-Cola Museum. I like Atlanta, but I could never live there as I couldn’t stand the smell of peaches.
My cousins, an older couple, told my parents they rarely get out to do the things we did. They drive me a little nuts, but they are sweet. I brought my TTY so I could stay in touch with Paul until we meet at his hotel. He calls me while I’m at the cousins’. First thing he types, “Hello GS7.” This is a TTY, so letters look funky, old ASCII tech.
GSI? G57? What is he talking about? He types again, “Hello, GS-7.”
Click. What!??! OMG!!! I got the job!!! (FYI: GS-7 is the level in a government job.)
Finally. This is what I’ll be doing after college. Working for DOT. Yes, as an intern, but I didn’t do a Lewinsky. It was a clean shop. I’m glad I went to Atlanta. It unexpectedly became the last hurrah before I entered the workforce. Paul and I went to the Coca-Cola Museum and Six Flags Over Georgia. When he worked, I read The Firm as I was eager to see how it ends.
It may not have been a planned vacation or anything special like going to Hawaii or Europe, but I still smile reflecting on the trip. After all, when I got there, I had no prospects… just an interview and lots of letters. When I left, I was officially in the workforce and a plan.
Meryl worked for Federal Aviation Administration for three years. She and Paul said good-bye to DC when he got out of the Air Force and headed back home to Texas with their 18-month-old daughter. Today, they live in Plano with their 11-year-old daughter, 6-year-old son, and 2-year-old son.


    • Cheryl on June 8, 2005 at 10:45 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Meryl, been reading your blog for abit now.. and you never cease to amaze me. Glad things are working out so well for you esp on the CI front 🙂 Sometimes wished my country could have similar laws which safe guard the disabled like the US or UK, hopefully that can be will be legacy my generation(XY)leaves behind… Keep truckin’!

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