Turning Points in My Life

As I was reading through an article on Toms Hardware about the greatest video cards of all time, I caught myself looking at the dates on the video cards, and then comparing those dates to things that were happening in my life.

Between 1996 – late 1999 were a great time in my life. My third son had been born in 1994, my daughter had been born in 1996, I had a steady job with good benefits, a little overtime here and there.

I started going to Lamar College in Port Arthur around 1995.  It was time to get out of the welding field, so I went to Lamar to learn computers.

Then there were the video games such as Diablo, Quake, Red Alert, and the camping trips into Orangefield Texas in the mid 1990s.

The early Quakecons were a blast. Driving to Dallas, staying with my buddy “Acid Breath” and his wife for the weekend, those were good times.

Around August 1999 all of that fell apart when I was laid off from Allied Fabrication in Rose City. The company had recently lost a lot of money, I had missed time due to my drinking. When it came time to reduce cost, I and a couple of other people were let go.

In all honesty, I loved working at Allied Fabrication. They were a great group of people that I really liked working for.

Regardless of how much I liked the job, all good things must come to an end.

Towards the end of 1999 and into early 2000, I was feeling really down. The jobs I was able to find sucked – terrible pay, no benefits and really long work hours.

My family life feel apart, I rarely got to see my kids because I was working 12 and 14 hours a day as a cable contractor.

I landed a job as a cable TV contractor.  Since the job was on a contract basis. I was not paid overtime. I was working anywhere from 60 – 90 hours a week, and barely making enough to pay for gas.

What sucked, I had only a couple of classes to finish my degree.  Due to having to work so many hours, I had to drop out of college.  I was taking night classes, but the cable TV job had me working from sun up, to sun down.

When you are down, that is when companies are the most likely to exploit you.

From 1986 – 1999 I had grown to hate the welding field. Poor pay, too much overtime, the work was dirty and hard on my body. Why should I stay in a field that pays barely above poverty wages? As a skilled craftsman, I should be able to provide for my family without “having” to work overtime.

As much as I despised the welding field, I hated being a cable TV contractor even more.

Towards the end of 2000 I landed a job at Kingwood Cablevision. I worked at Kindwood Cable for about 3 years, then was let go.

I enjoyed working at Kingwood Cable. Everyday was an adventure, everyday was something new. Besides making crap pay, and the upper management refusing to provide any upwards mobility, the job was ok.

It was the people I met in Kingwood that made the job fun and tolerable.

When you are getting screwed up the ass by a company, it helps when someone holds your hand and says “its going to be ok.” The corporate greed was the ass screwing, and the good people of Kingwood were the ones that made it tolerable.

In late 2000 my first wife and I separated and divorced.  The two years that followed were pure misery.  It seemed that the court hearings drug on forever and forever.

2003 – 2004 was another terrible, terrible time in my life. Drawing unemployment and not being able to find a job took its toll on my mental state.

2004 I got on at Industrial Equipment and Engineering in Sulphur Louisiana. Going back into the welding field was like going back home.

In 2005 my wife and I have been doing better. We moved to Jasper Texas, and things have been looking up.

Looking Back

Part of the problem with not being able to find a job was my career choices. The welding field can provide a stable job, but the pay sucks.

Working as a contract cable TV installer was a 1,000 times worse then welding.

Working for a cable TV company was maybe 100 times worse then welding.

My Family

When my first son was born in 1987 my whole life changed. Instead of only being responsible for myself, now I had a family that I had to provide for.

When my second son was born in 1989 things were going good. I was working overtime, making lots of money, learning a job skill.

In February 1991 my wife at the time, second son and mother-in-law were hit head on by a drunk driver. My wife was in the hospital for 6 weeks, then rehab for another 6 weeks.

My son suffered a broken leg, concussion and a cracked rib.

I did not mind working the overtime, that was until my wife and our son were in the car wreck, then I realized how much time I had lost with them. While I was busy working 60 – 80 hours a week, my life was slipping away right in front of me.

The money comes and goes, memories last forever.  I had been so busy working and making money, I invested no time into memories.

Some Good Memories

Taking my oldest son on a backpacking / camping trip.

Taking my three sons camping.

Taking my daughter fishing and hunting.

Trip out to a pipeline to cut up a fallen tree.

Putting my third sons rifle on layaway, paying the rifle off, then him getting his first deer.

When I was a kid, going on vacation with mom and dad.

Going out on the Neches river with my great-grand father.