By ANDREW FLYNN, Managing Editor of The Daily Damn
Having the ability to reflect on the bigger moments of your life is one of the millions of things that makes us uniquely human. Of all the creatures that exist on this psychotic green and blue planet, waxing nostalgic on a specific time that helped define us and who we have become plays largely on the person we continue to be. I remember the Spring of 2009 as a tumultuous period in my life. However, taking cues from my family history helped me get through it and allowed me to exit a tunnel of despair to find myself in the much greener pastures that waited for me.
I was 17 going into the summer before my senior year of high school. I had pissed the first few weeks of it away, further enraging my family as I was enjoying the balmy days of June while contributing absolutely nothing to society. I hadn’t yet had a real job in my life, but it looked as though I was being forced to get one. After having lunch with my legendary Grandpa Ray up at Mesa Country Club, we went back to his and my grandma’s house over in West Mesa. Ray was the most intuitive and giving person that ever lived for all any of us knew, and he had a modest gift waiting for me on his kitchen table.
My hotel was closing down, and all the signs of a property in dire financial straits were there. Whether the employees chose to recognize those signs and do something about it was up to each individual that wore a CopperWynd uniform. I wasn’t going to just think happy thoughts and pretend that all was well and rainbows emitted from all corners of that resort and spa on the hilltop. There was an inner-pressure I put onto myself and started a feverish job search. It didn’t help that unemployment in the Valley was now synonymous with crowded intersections and bad drivers. It used to be that such a word wasn’t ever uttered in this ever-sprawling metropolis of ours. However, this was the unfortunate reality.
I took it off the hanger it rested on, and brought it over my head while protruding my arms through the short sleeves. It was the most perfect-fitting golf shirt in the history of fitted textile. This truly was the “shirt of all shirts”. As a teenager of six feet and 180 pounds, describing how it felt on me wouldn’t do it justice, especially since the shirt came out of my Grandpa Ray’s desire to see me gainfully employed. He sent me off back to my home, where I would plot out my course of action in attaining my first legitimate bid at employment. A few days went by, and more than a dozen completed job applications were dropped off along with about as many managerial hands being shook along the way.
So I went out and made my personal brand known with the dressing-up, resume-presenting, and application-filling…and it sucked. Weeks went by with nary a callback or a returned email. Desperation was setting in, but then there was such a unique confluence of events that characterizes “a moment” in someone’s life so very well. The morning where I learned of the immediate closing of my hotel and the afternoon where I was offered a lucrative position on the other side of town were both of the same day. Honestly, it was purely marvelous to experience such a wide spectrum of emotion that it humbled me to my very knees and brought me back a decade before: to the time I got my first real job.
The shirt and I got some good, sweaty mileage out of the 110-degree afternoons that God was spoiling us with. It certainly helped that each day after I came home, there was a kidney-shaped swimming oasis in my backyard. Subway was located right on the corner near my house, and it was the last stop before some serious refreshing pool time in the late part of that June. Along with the decent job interview and coherent math skills presentation (a ridiculous 20-question quiz that even a mentally-challenged primate could score at least a “B” on!), I believed that my new, incredible shirt put me over the top of getting the coveted position of “Sandwich Artist”. Walking out of the shop that day, with a nametag in my hand, I couldn’t help but feel like I had just nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer. Jubilation was mine.
The CopperWynd closed down with a giant whimper as its 80 employees were shunned out unto the unpredictable and anemic job market. I just thank my lucky stars that it all worked out in the order that it did. Ultimately, had that lucrative position not been offered to me, I would singing a much different tune. The turning point had come and gone, and I found myself with two weeks before my new position started. I could mope around town, or I could go do something mentally constructive: head on a long and winding road trip and be with the spirit of my legendary Grandpa Ray, who had passed away from this life the very day I was hired for that first job back in the Summer of 1999. Never before did driving a cathartic 2,600 miles of this great country’s highways ever feel so fulfilling. The only thing that made it better was the fact that Ray was riding shotgun with me the entire way.
And that’s my giving a damn.
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