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25 Years of Working June 21, 2007

Posted by Tina Simmons in Uncategorized.
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Today is the first day of summer this year. It’s also the 25th anniversary of my entry into the working world. I tend to get wistful and start thinking about how things were then versus now.

  • Then: My father was a month away from remarrying. Now: My stepmother passed away in 1995, and my father went through several years of suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease before he passed at the end of 2005.

  • Then: I was engaged to be married to the woman I loved and who I thought loved me. Now: I know my wife loves me a lot now, but then I was a “safe harbor” from a really painful life. I still love her.

  • Then: I was on one of my umpteenth-million attempts to run away from being transgendered. A fiance, a new job, no longer in school. Who had time to be trans? I would dress occasionally, but whenever I did I knew it was the last time I’d ever do it. Now: It’s not going away. I have accepted that I am transgendered.

I remember the first day of work, starting out in my best suit, sitting in the Personnel office of the company (Human Resources was still called Personnel then). They did process control equipment, and I had absolutely no clue what the heck I was going to do. I was a programmer – I wrote programs. I didn’t really care about things like “System-level” or “Application” tags that were put in front of programmer – I was just happy to be working. That was the way I was raised.

My parents were never all that well off. I was starting a job, no experience, no life experience, and I was already making a lot more than my father made. He was a young child during the depression in the 30’s, and thinking back that and his experiences in World War II shaped his attitudes a lot. He was a really great guy, but he wasn’t the easiest to get close to, and I’m sure he didn’t know how to deal with this selfish 20-something idiot who knew nothing. But I also know he was very proud of how I was handling myself in my life compared to most of my other siblings.

He was also still in pain from my mother’s death a few years earlier. It was a car accident – a kid driving the other way on a snowy morning losing control of his car and front-ending my parents. My mother died instantly, and he barely survived. I remember being in college getting ready for a class and finding a note taped to a cash register in the student union with my name on it. It told me to go to security, where I found out my parents had been in an accident. Some campus security guards drove me to the hospital, but the ride is a blur. A woman greeted me there and walked me to the room my father was in. He was being prepped for emergency surgery but was alive. On the walk she told me “Your mother expired, and your father might not survive.” So here I was, a stupid kid, about to see my father for what might be the last time, knowing my mother was gone, not knowing if he knew so I couldn’t bring up anything. My father was as good as he could be, considering. My brother and two of my sisters were there with him.

All of this was running through my head that morning as I waited for the Personnel rep to greet me. What a strange trip life had taken me on, and I was only at the very beginning of my adult life.

Within a month, though, the company announced financial hard times, and we all had to take a temporary ten percent paycut for about six months, but I was so happy to be working I wasn’t about to complain. And there were layoffs in the next couple of months, but I was lucky then as now (I have had a lot of luck here – I’ve never been laid off, and I’ve always left a job on my own terms, even if I didn’t know what I was doing when I did it).

I used to spend time wondering what-if about a lot of things, but I learned that there’s very little point in wasting time doing that. I’m still here, alive, healthy enough, and providing for my family. And I would love to thank everybody who I’ve worked with, or who took a chance on me, for giving me the opportunities that I have had. I know I’ve let some of you down in the past, but I have always given the best that I could at any moment. I really appreciate how you all have helped me to become the person I am now.