Having accepted the mechanic's position, I wrote a resignation letter at work that night and dropped it onto the desk of the daycare center's director. The next day I was pulled into the director's office. Obviously, she was curious as to why I was leaving and I told her the truth. I told her that the job was taking its toll on me physically and mentally. She made an attempt to change my mind by offering me more pay, but nothing could keep me there. I'd found an escape hatch and there was no stopping me. I liked working there. The people, about 98% of them women (a lot of "lookers" if you know what I mean), were great but I didn't have the assistants that I needed. The last few days of my employment at the center were pretty easy. The director had hired a cleaning service to take over my job until they found a replacement for me. The owner of the cleaning service told me he couldn't believe that I was doing all that work by myself! I told him that having spent four years there, two and one half of those without any help, I'd learned a lot of shortcuts and that some non-essential tasks were simply not done. My daily routine had been pared down to the minimum. That minimal routine still took ten to eleven hours! My very last day some of the women got a bit misty-eyed. I found that to be odd, but years later I realized why some of them were sad. You see, I'd become a part of their "normal" day and they had become part of mine. People find comfort in routine and become anxious when faced with uncertainty. Now I was leaving and breaking that routine. I was leaving the good times, the good people... the familiar and trading them in for uncertainty and anxiety. This was in August of 1999 and the change had begun.
I took a few days off between jobs so I could rest my weary body. I also needed to gather all of the tools that, for the most part, remained untouched since my last job as a mechanic in 1992. I cleaned out my tool box and put everything in its proper place, locked it up and rolled it back into my Mom's garage. The night before I started my new job I loaded my tool box into my truck and went home to try and get some sleep. Sleep didn't come easy. I had a thousand things running through my mind, most of them concerning whether or not I could handle the new job. The drop in self esteem which occurred after being fired in 1992 came back to haunt me. The one job I had failed at left its mark on me and wouldn't go away. In fact, I'm still affected by it today, but not as bad as it was back then. Anyway, I woke up the next morning (I hadn't worked a morning in years) and drove up the interstate to my new place of employment. My best friend was there to meet me and he took me back to the shop and introduced me to the guys I'd be working with. The first mechanic I met was Rob. I didn't know it at the time, but Rob would play a major role in my rebirth as a mechanic. He was about seventeen years older than me and was as cool as a cucumber. Over the next six years we'd become good friends. Rob was very calm and helpful as I wobbled my way back into being a mechanic. One of those first days, as Rob was finding out what I could do, he told me to change a tire. I rolled the new tire over to the tire machine, put the wheel onto the machine and promptly stopped. I had forgotten how to operate a tire machine! It was then that I realized how much I had forgotten. I was, basically, starting from scratch and I panicked. Luckily, the corporate fleet supervisor, Tim, knew that I was rusty. Tim and Scott (Scott was the new shop supervisor that started a week after I did) gave me menial tasks to find out what I could do and eventually assigned me to more difficult tasks as I progressed. After holding that job for a whole year I felt as if I'd turned a corner in my life. Though I was still suffering from the effects of the '92 debacle, I started to believe that I was good at my job. I had succeeded in holding that job! Life was good and I was happy. More stories from what I lovingly refer to as "The happy time" will come in the next installment.