The strangest thing happened. The one person that had been tearing me down for years, the person that had confederated with Barbara to find fault in everything I did, called me on the telephone. Elinor told me that I had an interview at the AT&T Data Center in Fairhaven. I guess stranger things have happened, but I had covered the known universe from big companies to tiny companies looking for a job and now Ma Bell wanted to talk to me (?). Something was fishy here, but I was in no position to argue about it. It turned out that Elinor was good friends with our local representative in Congress and he had arranged the interview.
I hated this. I hated the very idea of it all. I was also starving and broke so I did it anyway. My interview was terrible, it was obvious I had an attitude, and they had an attitude about even talking to me. They didn’t seem to like it very much, but they hired me anyway. I did have some credentials and some good recommendations, but Ma Bell didn’t like to be told to do anything, much less hire some guy that clearly had some issues. This was 1983 when AT&T ruled the telephone world and just a year later they would be broken into smaller companies.
I was 32 years old now and still starting at the bottom. I was now 10 years behind my career curve and my frustration with junior level menial tasks was obvious to everyone around me. I worked hard, I put in the hours, and I attended every class on every subject they offered. I grabbed every overtime hour I could find and finally I was able to start paying off some debts. I owed a lot to a lot of people. But it was not to be. I lasted 8 months before I was history.
It was then that I learned to do something that I had never done before; I learned to lie. I quietly apologized to all of my unnamed friends and mentors in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, etc. that had taught me truth above all things but I did it anyway. I had never even stretched the truth on a resume before and I had a reputation for being honest to a fault with everyone I encountered; a reputation that I immediately regained after this. I had taken courses in many subjects and participated in many programming and operating system studies at AT&T but now on my resume I was really good at everything. There would be no more truth about this stuff until I was where I belonged. I was now 33 and I felt like I was running out of time.
It was then that I answered an ad for a Unix System Administrator who could also be an Oracle database administrator. Well AT&T had a brand of Unix I was familiar with but I had never heard of Oracle, but neither had anyone else in 1984. The job was way up in Billerica about 100 miles from where I was living but I interviewed and they hired me on the spot. But this wasn’t just any job; this was Department of Defense work at GTE Government Systems that required a Top Secret clearance. I had no idea what I was doing and I would have to learn a massive amount of things in a short time, but by God I had hit the mother lode, even if only by accident.
I knew right away that this was where the big boys played. There would be no more scrimping on silly stuff with these people. They had massive amounts of Government money to produce software products and they needed to spend it. In 6 weeks I had gotten my clearance and by August I was on the list to do some traveling. Most of the people on this program had been transferred from Phoenix, AZ but there was still a large group there that would interact with what I was doing until they were eventually transferred onto other programs. We need to you go down to Phoenix and talk to them and then when you get back we need you to attend the Oracle Users Conference in Menlo Park, CA, just south of San Francisco.
© J T Weaver