My previous post discussed my summer job at Halliburton in Duncan, Oklahoma. I worked there again the next summer, my last before graduation in December. My roommate, Beth, whose family was from Duncan, also obtained a summer position with Halliburton in a different department. Finding a place to live turned out to be easy: I moved in with Beth’s family and she and I shared a bedroom.
Most of Beth’s siblings still lived at home. The family was large, about seven of us living there in that not so large house that summer. Oh yeah, we made do with one bathroom. All seven of us. Our bedroom was in a converted garage right off the kitchen. This worked out great for the most part, we were separated from the others in the family and we were in close proximity to snacks. The bathroom was a bit farther on the other side of the house.
This became a huge problem when the garden-variety stomach virus flew through the house. Beth and I were the last ones stricken. We watched as each day another member of the household was stricken with the twenty-four hour bug. I felt like I was in line to be executed, watching my fellow comrades going down one by one. Then it hit. OK, so a little melodramatic, and I was better in a day, but the interim was spent running to the bathroom, hoping it was unoccupied, and prepared to kick anyone out who might have been doing their business at the same time.
Beth and I worked that summer and we both turned in stellar performances. Our respective managers held promise of a permanent position upon graduation. At a going away picnic with my co-workers and their families, talk surrounded the probability, in their mind, that I was soon to be a permanent fixture. Travel would be part of the job and one of the engineers brought this up, no doubt as a perk for me to consider. His wife immediately stated “not without special arrangements!” The thought of her husband and I actually hooking up was never in even my dreams. And the fact that she made this statement indicated to me that she wasn’t that secure with her own relationship with her husband. I’m sure Oprah and Dr. Phil would have taken her on as a weeklong topic. After an uncomfortable pause, conversation changed to something else. This confirmed my desires to head for the big city. No question about it, I was not destined to live in a small town.
I finished my last semester of school and enjoyed many interview trips to such exotic places as Lubbock, Texas, and whatever town, Iowa, in search of that next chapter in my life. My interview trip to St. Louis stands out as the most exciting for a number of reasons. First I was really going to the big city. Bigger than Dallas, at that time, I’d only been through St. Louis once before for a family wedding. Second, the trip took a really nasty turn.
I flew from Oklahoma City and carried my interview dress in a garment bag to minimize the chance for wrinkles. At that time, the aircraft had a closet to store garment bags and I dutifully hung mine on my way into the plane. I relaxed for the ride to St. Louis. The plane stopped in Tulsa before proceeding onto St. Louis. Some passengers disembarked and others boarded for the remaining flight.
Upon landing in St. Louis in the early evening, I remembered to get my garment bag. I lifted the bag off the hook, but noticed it was a lot heavier. Same gray color, same bag as I had packed, but it was different. Inside there was a man’s suit! Somebody in Tulsa had grabbed my dress and left me with the suit. Although I’m not quite convinced I didn’t get a better deal, on top of all the nerves that go along with interviewing, I had no clothes for the next day. I did have to laugh at the thought of a man opening the bag to a new dress. Even if his travels ended at his home in Tulsa, what did his wife think about him bringing home a dress?
Thankfully, one of my cousins lived in St. Louis and although she lived quite a distance from my hotel, she picked me up and we took off for the nearest department store to find an appropriate dress. Funny, when I’m panicked all the clothes on the rack look unsuitable. My cousin’s calm demeanor prevailed, she found a dress and I purchased it. My interview was saved and by the time I returned to Oklahoma City, so had my long-lost dress.
The offers started to come in. As expected, Beth and I both received offers from Halliburton. After I shared my letter of intent with her, Beth was reluctant to share her offer with me. I thought that rather strange. Turns out, Beth’s offer was higher than mine. I was appalled! She had worked in a different and evidently richer department, but I had toiled there for two summers and experienced the Nun and stomach flu! There should have been compensation for that! In the grand scheme of things, I had no intention of accepting their offer, but I thought I would have had the larger offer.
Texas Instruments in Lubbock provided me an offer as did John Deere in Iowa. Both were good offers, but did I really want to live in either of those towns? Lubbock had Texas Tech and John Deere had a small community college. The nearest large town to either of these places was hours away. Then I received an offer from Monsanto in St. Louis.
I nearly had an anxiety attack trying to decide which offer to take. What a crossroads this provided. My life was going to change forever and depending on which offer I accepted, would determine my destiny. Who would I meet? Would I be safe? Would the job be good for me? Who would I miss out on meeting by not choosing a different offer? What was the right answer?
I chose the big city of St. Louis. Monsanto corporate headquarters and their central engineering department beckoned. I only knew my cousin in that big city so the field was wide open for new relationships. I accepted immediately and waited for the next chapter in my life to open.