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My 2009 America

[Editor's Note: Today's blog post is by guest author William Seebeck. I've known Bill for decades, going back to our time working together at Lexis-Nexis in Dayton, Ohio during the 1980's. Bill has a wealth of experience in online systems, banking, publishing, and public relations.]

By Bill Seebeck

I ran out of food and money today. It’s a Sunday and I thank God for the many things that I do have that can’t be measured by a scale or calculator. My two wonderful sons, three beautiful grandchildren are the best, as well as the rest of my family and friends that are spread across the country.

My medicine begins to run out on Wednesday and I don’t know what I’m going to do about that. My energy level seems better the last couple of days and I’m trying not to let the COPD get the best of me. It’s really the stress that gets you each and every day, but I give thanks that I still have my sense of humor left.

Yesterday, I had some hearty soup from a can but had to be careful of the sodium that was around 700 mg. You see when you have diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, you can also get CHF when the sodium causes you to retain water and that’s definitely not good. Almost glad I ran out of the soup.

My first job was the summer of my 13th birthday. My grandmother who raised us while my mother worked sent me off to the rich man’s country club to caddy for the golfers. I would leave before sunrise and walk a few miles to the course. I wasn’t afraid of the early dark mornings. In the winter, after I made my first communion, I had been an altar boy and served the 6:00 mass. It’s very cold and dark at 5:40 am in January, in New York.

When I got to the golf course, I sat apart from the caddies. Almost to a man, they were in their 30’s and 40’s, had their own language it seemed and a way about them. What I realized very quickly is that when the golfers came in, they went out first. By nearly 1:00 pm, I was still waiting. When the sun was at its highest and warmest, I was finally chosen and walked the course until just before four. I reached home around five, the same number as my pay for the day.

That was the beginning of my work career and I don’t ever remember a time I didn’t work at something, until now.

There’s less than a tank of gas left in the car, so I have to plan my outings. I’ve got 130,000 miles on the Camry and I need an oil change. It’s going to have to wait.

My first hard time was the recession of 1972. I was just starting out after college and had the additional responsibility of a wife and child. Every interview I went on seemed the same. Do you have work experience in that area? No, but I was the editor of my high school and college newspapers and I did some freelance writing. Sorry, when you get some real experience come back to us. That’s when I learned the meaning of Catch-22. Can’t have the experience if someone doesn’t give you a job to get the experience.

Well, I never gave up and one day I went for an interview and found that the person who met with me was an old neighbor and he gave me a job at the employment agency and I eventually placed myself (Yankee ingenuity). The rest, as they say, is history.

As a boy, I dreamt about the future. What would I do? What would I be? One day, I decided I would be either the Pope or the President of the United States. Also, I wanted to travel and meet people from other countries and see their worlds. My grandfather had traveled as a “man Friday” to his employer who owned a steamship company and my uncle was an Air Force major and if they could do it, so could I.

Well, I didn’t make it to be President, but I was active in politics and had the chance to meet and speak with three of them directly. I didn’t become Pope but I was ordained as a deacon 19 years ago. As for traveling, well I got to visit and at times work for long periods of time in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East. I’ve flown in helicopters, single, twin and four-engine planes both piston and jet and flew the Concorde, twice the speed of sound, four times. Not bad in my book of dreams.

As for experience, I now have plenty. Yet, there doesn’t seem to be much call for my work anymore. For the last 30 years, it has primarily been in information technology. Since the 1980’s, I have thought about and developed processes, methodologies and systems that deal with how information technology can positively change companies, industries and societies.

Yet, here I am today in 2009 America. No work, no money, no food, no medicine and an uncertain future.

Do I still have hope? Yes, I have hope. After all, one of the things I did in my life was write the song, “Roll Up Your Sleeves America”.*

Can you eat that?

© 2009 WBSeebeck

*Roll Up Your Sleeves America © 1982 WBSeebeck


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