I’m Not the Only Thing Getting Old

This weekend I was mowing my backyard. I decided to take a break because it was hot and the self-propelled part of my mower stopped working a month or so ago. I came back out and the mower wouldn’t start. I still need to do the front yard, but I’m not sure the mower will start again. The mower isn’t ancient, but I guess it is old enough that parts are starting to go bad. Now I have to decide: repair or replace? I’m considering replacing and going with a battery powered, cordless mower.

A while back our vacuum cleaner started to suck by not sucking enough. My wife told my mother-in-law that a new vacuum would be a good combined Christmas present(is it, though?) The result was us getting an old vacuum cleaner she no longer used. It is ancient and not easy to move around. I think it might be older than me. Forget what I said above. I think it’s obvious that I need to buy a robot vacuum robot and a robot lawn mower so I don’t have to do the work anymore.

Our house is now about 20 years old. We just got a new roof a couple of years ago. I’m sure as we get past the 20 year mark more things will need to be replaced or repaired.

We just replaced a couple of our old cars in the past few years.

It’s obvious I need to win the lottery so I can buy all new stuff.

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Delayed Sparks Can Still Start a Fire

I read Date Lab in the Washington Post every week. I even had the Date Lab person come to the library to do a program around Valentine’s Day one year. If you read it, you know that a second date is rare. People meet, they have dinner and drinks and then, for the most part, never see each other again. In some cases it makes sense. They just aren’t a good match and don’t really enjoy the date. Many times, though, both people say they enjoyed the date. They had a good time and had a lot in common. They rate the date a 4 or 5 out of 5, but then never go on another date. Why? Generally, they say there was no “spark”. I guess they are looking for something magical, something more than just enjoying their company. I guess they think that will always come on the first date or it’s not worth pursuing. I think I understand why they are single and using a dating service. The “spark” is not always immediate.

I knew my wife for a while before I ever considered dating her. When we first met, she was still dating her high school boyfriend. She probably barely noticed me. We eventually ended up in the same friend group and spent more time in the vicinity of each other. She broke up with the high school boyfriend, but was then dating another friend of mine.  We were around each other a lot, but still did not have the “spark” that everyone is looking for today. Again, I doubt she really knew who I was. Eventually, she was single again and I was interested. I’m still not sure she though much about me outside of my being friends with her friends. Our friends figured out I was interested and started manufacturing ways to get us together. Once they all backed out of a movie night so we would go alone. Eventually, I guess she experienced the “spark” and we were officially a couple. We are still married 25 years later. I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t dismiss the idea of dating because we didn’t “feel a spark” the first time we met.

My advice to the date lab people and dating people in general: if you enjoy spending time with someone, don’t give up after a first date just because you didn’t fall in love immediately.  Sometimes sparks take time.

My Life as a Jailbrarian: Seeking Parole

While my job at the state prison system provided a few interesting stories, there were two good reasons I needed a new job: my boss was a horrible person and the state job was contractual and provided no benefits.  After being rejected when I applied for the job I was already doing, I knew that I had no future with the organization. After working in the office with the person in charge of the organization, I knew I didn’t want a future there. So, it was time to seek parole and/or escape from prison.

I once again hit the job trail. I started actively seeking new employment. My horrible boss was very angry when she found out and called me in to an office to yell at me for looking for a new job without telling her. Apparently, I was being unfair to her by trying to escape the misery of working for her. This just made me look harder for a new job. I sent out a multitude of resumes. I got three interviews.

Interview 1: The memory of this one is very hazy. I think it was the American Psychology Association, but I could be wrong. I can say for sure that it was at a professional association in DC. It was a decent interview where they walked me around and introduced me to people in the office as part of the process. I remember it feeling like it was a place I would fit. They must have felt the same way. I did not get an offer.

Interview 2: My second interview was at a private school north of Baltimore. It was a beautiful campus. It was a very good interview. I really felt like this was the place I would land. When I received the call from them, however, I discovered it would not be the place for me. I had applied to be the assistant librarian and the school felt that I would not be happy as the assistant and would leave the job quickly. I tried to convince them that this was not the case. They didn’t believe me. I wanted to point out that the librarian was old and that I could wait her out, but I felt that was a mistake. I did not get an offer.

Interview 3: My third interview was with a public library system. The position was for the local detention center. It was also the library system that had returned my unsolicited resume back to me stamped rejected. It was not a good sign. At the interview, while shaking hands, I noticed one person had the list of interviewees face up in front of them. I quickly took a sneak peek while shaking their hand and discovered I was competing with someone else from the state prison system. I seemed doomed to fail. The interview went well and I received a call from the library asking me to come to a second interview with the administration from the jail. This one did not go as well. I was 26 years old and looked much younger and am not exactly an imposing figure. The security supervisor at the jail was furious that they had chosen me and said I wouldn’t last. He was not shy about saying that with me in the room. He was completely against me being hired. The rest of the room was not quite as hostile, but they were not friendly. I was sure that I was headed back out on the job hunt again. Instead, as we walked to our cars, the library people told me that it didn’t matter what the jail thought I was their choice and the job was mine if I wanted it.  I was so desperate to get out of my current position that I readily agreed to go work at a place where the people in charge clearly did not want me. Spoiler alert: I outlasted every person in the room who said I wouldn’t last.

I was heading back to jail. I felt comfortable doing this because I was not intimidated my jail and also because I thought for sure I could work my way up and out of the jail before too long. I was so young and stupid.

Watching Jeopardy Alone

I knew it was coming soon. My son rented a house with friends this year so he was officially completely moved out last July. He leaves on Sunday for New York for five weeks for his summer internship. Today was my daughter’s last day of her junior year of high school.  She got her driver’s license last week. I knew I was a year away from an empty nest. Today, my daughter starts a part-time job. She just headed out for her training shift. That means I will start to get a taste of the empty nest soon.

The big change for me will be the first couple of hours after I arrive home from work. I typically arrive home by around 5:30. My wife typically gets home around 7:30.  For a while, some of that time was filled with trips to the dance studio. The last couple of years it has meant cooking dinner and watching TV with my daughter. Monday nights we watch John Oliver(recorded from Sunday). Other nights we might watch other random shows that we have recorded over the past weeks. The one standard is that we watch Jeopardy at 7. My wife doesn’t understand why we like the show so much. I’m surprised my daughter likes it.  We watch, comment on the contestants and yell out our answers(not in the form of a question). With her at work several nights a week, I will have to watch Jeopardy alone. I’ve done it before. It’s just not as fun when no one else sees how smart(or dumb) you are.

It sounds small, but it is a harbinger of things to come. Today it is a part-time job. Soon it will be college. Soon the nest will actually be empty and I will have many hours home alone. I guess I will be reading a lot more books soon. Who am I kidding? I will probably spend the alone time watching TV shows my wife won’t watch and posting stupid stuff on Facebook.

My Life as a Jailbrarian: Scenes from the State

I was only with the state for about a year, so there aren’t a lot of interesting stories to tell. I think the one from the last post was the most interesting day I had at work. So, the entire year will be completed in this post.

Most of my time with the state was spent in an office working on a computer. Nothing much exciting ever happened in the office. We had the occasional collect call from a prison with an inmate trying to contact us. There was the time my boss was given a brand new computer even though she never actually used her computer so the IT guy switched it with mine one day while she was out of the office. She never noticed. There was the time I was called down to the front desk because I had certified mail and had to sign for it. It turned out to be Penthouse magazine. This happened for several months until I figured out why. It was soon after the state banned adult magazines from the prison libraries. One librarian kept getting them in the mail so she sent them to us so she wouldn’t get in trouble. Most of what I remember from the office is that the boss was the worst boss I’ve ever had and being in prison was preferable to being in the office with her.

I got the chance to do be in prison more when the librarian at the women’s prison left. I spent a couple of months working as the substitute librarian. There aren’t a lot of exciting stories from my time there. I do remember one early morning when I signed in and headed over to the building where the library was located only to find it locked. I had arrived before the day shift roll call was done and the education building was not yet open. I considered waiting at the door until this officers arrived and then realized I was lurking around prison grounds in the dark and the officers in the towers had guns. I changed my mind and walked over to the roll call room to wait for the officers there. I had a library worker go on maternity leave. It was not something I expected to happen while working in prison. It was relatively uneventful. It was a good job. It was an easy commute. It was a 7-3 schedule. The inmates didn’t cause me much trouble. I had a private restroom.  I applied to be the full time librarian but did not get the job, most likely because my boss was an asshole.

I went back to the office and back in front of a computer. I took over the LASI program when the LASI coordinator  went out on medical leave. This meant I supervised law students who used LEXIS to send requested legal cases to the inmates on request. This program was eventually moved to a building back at the penitentiary compound from the last post. This meant I spent some days working out of the compound. One perk if working at the prisons was that the library staff had reserved parking spots. This was never an issue at any other prison, but it became an issue here. There was a lot of construction at the compound at this time so parking was scarce. It was not uncommon for someone to be parked in my spot if I arrived at the compound later in the day. One day I guess I was in a bad mood(shocking, I know) and had had it with people taking my spot so I pulled in behind them, parked and started to head in to work. An officer ran over to confront me about this. Due to the construction, the compound was guarded on the ground by armed correctional officers. This guy was one with a gun. He ordered me to move my car. I refused. He ordered me to move the car again. I pointed to the sign that said reserved for librarian and told him that I was the librarian and that I would be happy to move my car to let the car parked illegally to vacate my spot. I honestly can’t remember who won that fight, In my mind I did, but I think that is a false memory. I’m pretty sure that the guy with the gun probably won, but let’s pretend I did.

Eventually, the stress of working for a horrible person, the fact that it was a contract position with no benefits and that fact that she had rejected me when I applied to be a real employee added up to me deciding my time in prison was over. My boss did manage to be an asshole one more time by pulling me into a conference room to yell at me when she heard I was looking for a new job. Fun times.

Up next: I apply for parole.

My Life as a Jailbrarian: Prologue

After talking recently about my time as a jail librarian I have decided to do an occasional post with some stories about my life in jail. This prologue is not a jail story. It is the story of how I ended up in jail in the first place.

I was living in Cincinnati, working at a market research firm and had just finished going to school at night to complete my MLS(Master of Library Science) degree when we got the official word that my wife would be transferred to Washington DC.   We knew it was coming. I didn’t think it would happen that fast.  As the move got closer, I started applying for jobs in the DC area. I had one really good phone interview while still in Cincy that, unfortunately, did not result in a job. A few days before the scheduled move I got a call to schedule an interview with DC Public Library so I headed east a few days ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, this meant being extremely tired and possibly ill from eating bad road food when I arrived at the interview. My boss at my old job said that the DC people broke the rules and asked her about my health. I looked that bad. Needless to say, I did not get that job.

Once we were officially residents of the DC area I started sending resumes to every local library I could find. I hit the road and personally visited the HR departments of both public and academic libraries.  One public library system actually sent my resume back to me stamped rejected and accompanied by a letter saying they do not accept unsolicited resumes. This system will appear again in later posts. That was fun. I rode the Metro around DC to the colleges there. I was on my way to Howard University one day. I got off the Metro and asked a woman who was headed to work at the hospital for directions. Along with the directions, she also gave me advice for walking through the neighborhood: walk quickly, don’t make eye contact and run if you hear gunshots. I never made it to Howard. As soon as we parted company I went right back to the Metro station and went back home.

I eventually signed on with a temp agency that works with librarians. I worked for a week at a fancy law firm near the White House. I enjoyed eating my lunch in the park with a view of the White House. I worked for a week at the World Bank. I have no memory of anything I did there. I remember being bored. I was also still applying for every job opening I saw. I eventually was called in for an interview with the state of Maryland. It was at the Department of Education working with Correctional Education as a technical librarian. I was offered the job. It was only a contract position, but it was better than temping, so I accepted. The same week I received a call from the temp agency. They had a job for me that could turn in to a permanent position.  I turned it down because I felt a guaranteed position was better than a possible permanent position. I have no idea where the other job was. I made the decision to go with the job with the state without details on the possible other job. This decision led to my 20 year jail sentence. Sometimes I regret making that decision.

Next installment:  A Visit to the Big House

Tater’s Monday Musings

  • I read two different books over the weekend that were written when the author was a teenager. If you ever want to feel even more like a failure, spend the weekend being reminded of people who have achieved more than you before they are out of their teens.  Sure, I have a good job and I now have a title, but I’m pushing 50 and I still feel like something of a failure when it comes to the career thing.  20 years in jail really hinders your job prospects even if you just work there.
  • I joked recently that I was going to write a book called The Power of Positive Negativity after I one again posted something negative only to be proven wrong. I feel like it is better to expect the worst in situations and be pleasantly surprised when things go right.  This weekend I did the opposite and posted something positive about a car buying experience only to have it go bad just a few minutes later. I’ve learned my lesson. No more positivity until after everything is done.
  • I might be biased because of my hate for the Washington baseball team, but  I watched the local coverage of the game yesterday and their broadcast team is horrible. Constant bad jokes that fell flat, making fun of a between innings activity and just a bad job in general. You are one of the best regular season teams in baseball(playoffs, not so much). Spend some money for some decent TV coverage.
  • I just wrote the check for my ticket to my 30 year high school reunion. How is that possible? I can’t be that old. Can I?
  • This is the end. I have to leave for work. Aren’t you glad this is the last bullet point?