Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Canadohta Lake

For the twitter faithful, you may have wondered why you haven't been blessed with my cynicism & sarcasm during the past few days. It's not that I've taken permanent leave of the twitterverse, but I have taken temporary leave of the Triangle area, the Dell Latitude D830 and the daily grind that usually accompanies those two entities. Oh, how I would love to say I packed up and departed for a long-planned getaway to northern California, Lake Como, Italy or even Wrightsville Beach, but as luck would have it, I'm spending an impromptu, unpaid vacation at beautiful Canadohta Lake in northwestern Pennsylvania.

You see, if you've been living in a cave, you may not be aware that the economy isn't fairing so well (actually, if you've been living in a cave, you're probably better off than most of the US population). It has hit most parts of American industry, but no industry has been hit as hard as mine - the manufacturing industry. I work for a company that manufactures robotic tools, mostly for the building industry. One of our major markets is cabinet makers. The housing sector is down. building is down. Our sales are down. We restructured in January and repositioned for what we knew was going to be a few slow months, but, unfortunately, our sales hit rock bottom in March. So, last Friday, our company president called a meeting and announced half the company would be on a mandatory two-week unpaid vacation. Hopefully, in two weeks, we'll have a company to go back to. We were completely blindsided by the announcement. We had no time to plan and budget accordingly. We were told, out of the blue, that we wouldn't be receiving a paycheck for the next month. Fuck you. Good luck.

We were surprised, bitter, but what could we do? I left the meeting, called my old man and told him to be expecting company for the next week. I knew what I was going to do, and it didn't make sense for me to sit around my apartment all day looking for a new job when I could take a well deserved trip to the lake and relax, sort things out and dig into the job search. I decided to leave on Monday and come back the following Saturday so I'd have a week when I got back to schedule interviews and also so I wouldn't have to be away from Jen for more than a few days (yeah, I'm a baby that way). I packed a bag and my laptop, and Jen dropped me off at RDU on Monday morning for my trip to Union City, PA via the Buffalo airport and a Dulles layover.

My dad has been retired for a few years now, and after my mom died of cancer in June of 2007 he decided he had to get away from things. This past summer, he sold his house in suburban Pittsburgh and bought a little cottage on the Canadohta Lake in (very) rural Crawford County, PA, about 30 miles southeast of Erie. Now when I say little cabin, I really mean little cottage. Although I didn't grow up in what could be considered a big house by any means, his two-story dwelling is cramped by anyone's standards. It has one bedroom downstairs and a small two-room upstairs with a pair of single beds in one room and Big Dave's office in the other room. He has a well, limited hot water, basic cable and no Verizon reception. The nearest town to Canadohta Lake is Union City, population 3,000, which is about eight miles away. If you've ever seen The Great Outdoors with John Candy, you have an idea what I'm talking about. The lake is beginning to thaw, but there are still ice-fishing huts littering the shoreline, and a sign outside one of the local bars announces "WED SNOWMOBILE NITE." His new girlfriend, Susan, who's actually a friend from a long time ago, has all but abandoned her own cottage down the road to shack up with pops. Susan's an animal lover and she and my dad are surrounded by Tinkerbell, a Maltese former show dog who was rescued from her owner, an elderly woman who affectionately groomed Tink everyday but somehow forgot to feed her for weeks. Then there's Alex, a pug rescued from a puppy mill. (On a side note: Tink, who's a female and is fixed, climbs on Alex, who's a male and is also fixed, licks his ears and relentlessly humps him while he doesn't seem to be paying attention). Outside the cottage live a small pride of cats who occasionally venture inside. There's Sigfreid, Roy, Spot, El Gato and Spare Cat among others. It's very quiet in the winter, as most cottages are summer homes abandoned during the cold months. It's low key, peaceful, and the two of them are happy there, sharing each other's companionship away from the city and the craziness that is the Minella clan.

D-Money (my dad's rapper name) picked me up at the Buffalo airport on Monday afternoon (his place is equidistant from Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Cleveland, so it's easy to find a cheap flight into one of those airports). I spent the day Monday relaxing and catching up since I hadn't been home since Christmas of 2007. On Tuesday, I ate breakfast and spent the next four hours applying for jobs and emailing resumes. [Since then, I've already received some good responses including an email response to fill out a prescreening questionnaire and a phone call about setting up a telephone interview]. This morning, I drove about 10 miles to the "local" gym, had a great workout and waited for my sister and her kids to arrive. My sister has two kids - Angelica (4) and Avery (2) - and is currently going through a divorce. I'm an opponent of divorce - as any good Catholic is - but I'm so happy she's getting out of this one. We all went down to the Sugar & Spice Amish restaurant at the Eagle Hotel in waterford, PA for some comfort food (the most expensive restaurant in town, the bill for four adults and two kids which came to less than $100). Then we headed back to the cottage and tried to figure out where everyone's going to sleep.

So, that's been my week so far. I'm not sure I'll have a job when I get back, and I'm surprisingly OK with that. I've come to realize I have an amazingly supportive family, and for the first time in my life, I feel like I have a girlfriend who stands behind me 100%. I've also realized that I have some pretty desirable skills and, regardless of whether I do have a job in a week & 1/2, it's time to move on career-wise. Wow, this quick blog post has become a novel. It's 11:15, and I have another long day of looking for a job and torturing the living daylights out of a certain four years old and two year old.

Good night.

1 comment:

Lisa Creech Bledsoe said...

You aren't the only one with a job story like this, but you are handling it with grace, smarts, and plenty of old-fashioned elbow grease. Keep us updated.