Ch.16 – Survival

For three years I had no job of any substance. I worked a weekend job at a jewelry store, I worked a part-time job as a secretary in a custom home builder that wouldn’t pay his contractors. I searched for jobs and was denied because I was over qualified by education but under qualified by experience.  If it hadn’t been for small miracles along the way I would never have been able to feed my children. We ate a lot of chicken liver.  The girls hated it.  But it was cheap. As these small miracles continued to happen at the most unexpected times in my life, my faith in God grew and doubts about his existence started to wane.  I did have doubts. I had major doubts, how could someone who claimed to be a father figure to us let such terrible things happen to me, let me suffer so much, leave me alone and without true love? Why would HE make me so sick and cry so much? I had so many questions.

One day after a dark night of depression and tears, I went to church. I sat in the pew alone.  I had been celibate for so long, but I needed a hug so badly. The congregation was not friendly to this divorced woman, I didn’t understand it.  But I sat there alone, suddenly I felt a very warm and strong physical hug. I looked around me in that pew to see who did this. No one was there.  I felt His presence or the presence of His messenger to let me know I was NOT alone.  I no longer had doubt that there was a greater being in charge. I knew, I just knew then that things would eventually turn around for me.

It was after this I became a lay minister and started speaking to others that were going through similar experiences that I was going through. We were going to survive this together. Eventually, I had to leave this church. I found out that although I had tried to contribute to the church and be the best Christian I could be, I discovered that a gathering within a congregation is not necessarily the most Christian behaving group of people. There are many hypocrites within churches and I decided it’s better for me to have my personal relationship with God and go my own way. You might say I’m a little more liberal in beliefs than organized religion.

I did a lot of soul-searching and growing during these difficult times. I had anonymous benefactors, friends like Teddy Bear that made it possible for me to eat and for my children to have Christmas presents when I couldn’t afford anything.

The numerous little jobs I had taught me more lessons that I didn’t expect. I sold women’s lingerie in home shows.  I learned about another form of “partying” then too.  Sex parties! oh, my.  Another culture shock.  That one made me choke.  I told the wife I didn’t do drugs, and she said “oh no, not that kind of partying”, okay!

Finally, I qualified for a loan, the first step to the light at the end of the tunnel. Fortunately, it wasn’t a train.  I was the first woman to learn how to drive a tractor trailer.  I got a displaced homemaker’s loan with the government and got my CDL. I learned how to drive. Today when they talk about feminism and sexist language, they have no idea how hard it is to be the only woman tractor trailer driver looking for a full-time job. I had the skills and the license, but the innuendo and the language that I had to hear were something else. Fortunately, I also had learned to ignore. It was all part of survival, I had to earn a living and this was going to do it. I finally did get a job driving a 10-wheeler dump truck. The company was reluctant to hire me, but they did. At first, they put me on ancient 1949 truck with 13 gears in a graveyard.  I had to haul dirt out of steep inclines and prove myself. Later they put me hauling gravel out of the local quarry. Then disaster happens, one day, the quarry loads my truck with pea gravel, it’s a very round smooth stone about the size of a pea. They load my truck, however, incorrectly—on only one size of the dump bed.  I pull out onto the road heading out to the highway. As I go down the hill and the curve, suddenly my truck starts to sway, it actually lifts off the tires on one side.  I attempt to recover and think I do. It doesn’t. The truck rolls over with 20 ton of gravel. The driver’s seat is not bolted down and falls on me. This all happens in seconds, but to me, it happens in slow motion and all I can think is “Oh crap!”  I crawl out the passenger side window and out the truck in shock and stand in the middle of the road. A police car comes and the officer asks if I’m okay.  I’m in such shock I want to cry but tears don’t come, I think I’m okay, I only have a scratch on my right hand. The officer calls a friend for me to come and get me, he notifies the company I work for and as we wait and fill out all the necessary paperwork he tells me that usually, he would ticket me and fine me for this accident and for spilling 20 ton of gravel on the road, but seven trucks had done the same thing in the same spot in the previous six months.  The road was cambered wrong and my gravel was loaded incorrectly.  Needless to say, I was fired from my job. Needless to say, I was not unhappy and that’s when another door opened for me. Aerospace and Strategic Defense called my name and my dream of space was within reach. Three years of starving were finally coming to an end.


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