Let me first set the stage here…I live in Seattle, WA and worked for Microsoft up until January of this year (2014). When I left Microsoft, I decided to take a small hiatus from IT (after being in it for nearly 20+ years) and got a job with Ride The Ducks (which let me say, is a blast!). On the other side of the country was my mother, who works for Election Systems & Software and travels around fixing computerized voting machines….
It all began on April 13th in Edinburgh, Indiana where she was eating dinner at Ruby Tuesday and she started up a conversation with a woman across the bar from her who worked for Elwood Staffing. My mom quickly deduced from this individual that her firm staffed IT roles and knew her son was no longer in IT (but she wanted him to be). So, as mothers do, she began plugging her son’s skills. She mentioned that I worked overseas for many years doing logistics programming for the Dutch Government. She mentioned that I worked for Symantec and traveled throughout Europe, The Middle East, Africa, and of course she mentioned that I worked for Microsoft and had also given numerous presentations around the world on various topics in the Computer industry. Then, as mothers do, she filled in the last details of the story – that I worked as a comedian/entertainer for Ride The Ducks. Of course not really knowing fully about what the company did, the female from Elwood Staffing inquired about Ride The Ducks. I had recently sent my mother some photos of my various guises I assume while giving tours of Seattle. I’m sure at this point, the woman felt a bit of pity for me, so she gave my mother her business card and to pass on her details to me.
My mother, seeing an opportunity for me to get back in to IT at this point, quickly text me her details. I actually got quite upset, as I initially interpreted it as my mom trying to get me to move away from Seattle (which I dearly love), so I called and left my mom a pretty terse voice mail. However, respecting her and not knowing the full conversation she had with the lady, I politely sent the staffing consultant an email letting her know a little about my background in IT and also stating that if possible I’d like to mesh it with the medical field as I was also a volunteer firefighter and EMT (if I were to be placed). Her reply was initially brief, yet informative and had some contact details at the bottom. Her reply asked for my full resume and the contact details revealed a telephone number that began with the area code 616. I replied, including my resume, and asked about the area code…if it was her number or if it was just a “corporate” office number. The reason behind this – back in 2000/2001, one of my best friends from college – Joe Sus (Joe the UCx Guy) – lived there, and as such, I had spent a lot of time in the Grand Rapids area (the 616 area code).
She replied stating that the 616 number was actually her cell phone and she was from the Grand Rapids area, which began the exchange of information back and forth about the city. Interestingly enough, Joe worked at Integrated Architecture and the woman knew the company well, as she actually had dated an individual from there. Conversations went back and forth, professionally, about various places we had both visited (as she traveled as well). Being a tour guide for Ride The Ducks and loving Seattle, I told her all about the place where I lived, as she’d never been. I also suggested that if she ever did visit, I would graciously give her a tour around the city (and of course hinted at riding the duck!). For those of you that know me, you’d know that’s my personality and hospitality, to show anyone around where I live and know and to ensure they enjoy themselves.
As fate would have it, she was actually traveling to the Elwood office in Orange County in May for business and I made the suggestion to see if there were any flights from Orange County to Seattle for the weekend and I’d show her the city. She thought the idea sounded like a halfway decent one and looked in to flights up to Seattle from Cali. One showed up for just under $100 round trip and she decided to book it. She figured she could see the city and she also had a great passion for her job and it would be an opportunity to personally meet a potential placement candidate – to get to know them better and maybe help place them in IT (per my mom’s need). Once the flight was booked, she let me know the dates and we started to look at if I would be driving the duck that weekend or not. Being a male, I totally spaced that I wasn’t working that weekend and rather, I was to attend the wedding of a great friend of mine (which I couldn’t miss). Noting all of the coincidences thus far – her coming to this side of the US, her having connections to Joe’s company, etc, I thought, heck, let’s invite her as my guest to the wedding.
I sent her an email back inviting her to the wedding, which at first she thought was a joke. After realizing I was serious, she decided that it could be fun and she enjoyed attending social events, so she obliged. Now, noting that we were going to a wedding together, we thought we probably should get to know a bit more about each other because, surely, there will be questions asked of us at the wedding. With this in mind, we set up a telephone call to “introduce” ourselves to each other – because at this point all communication had actually been via email…
Two weeks came and went and she arrived in Seattle on Thursday, May 15, 2014. I went to the airport to pick her up and actually ended up arriving a bit early so I text my friend whose wedding was that weekend letting him know my date was someone whom I’d never met before and that I was about to pick up at the airport. He sort of chuckled and replied asking if she “…came with a return policy…”, because this was of course his wedding. She text me letting me know she was at arrivals and when I went to pick her up, she was fairly tired and in lieu of giving me her luggage, it was more thrown at me (though I know this wasn’t the intention – it was a joke that carried on through the weekend).
On Friday, I showed her around the city and ensured that going to the wedding with her was the correct decision and I’m sure she was asking herself some of the same questions throughout the day. We went to the wedding on Saturday and of course the questions ensued. How do you know each other being the main one, naturally. We made it through the wedding and had an amazing time and then on Sunday we did more tourist things, only this time a bit more low key as she had to depart on Monday. By Sunday evening, we had spent all of four days together, yet it really seemed as if we had known each other much longer. Strangely enough, she was in the process of finalizing the sale on her house in Grand Rapids and her “return” trip would have had her living soon with her parents. Noting this, and also recollecting the fact she stated there was an Elwood office in the Seattle metropolitan area, I asked what it would take for her to move out to Seattle to start a relationship.
She thought long and hard about this and seeing that she would have to move across country, start “new”, essentially reset her life, she replied, “I’d need to get married to move out here.” We both had foundational church backgrounds and knew that marriage was the only correct way to do things if we did in fact want to live together under one roof, so we talked a lot about what we both wanted from life, where we had both been in life, and where we were heading. Ironically enough, we were both wanting to head the same way, so as crazy as things had been thus far, we decided…let’s get married.
Initially this seemed far fetched as she had to return to Grand Rapids to finish packing and we had really only known each other for just over a month – with most of that being email communications. None the less, she returned to Grand Rapids, and initiated the packing. To move across country would be no easy feat and her house sale was closing in two weeks. Communication between myself and her went from email to telephone and now multiple times daily, trying to coordinate how this could work. Plans began to formalize and I was to fly out to Grand Rapids on June 3 to help her pack a U-Haul, load a car trailer (which was to be towed by the U-Haul) and then to drive across the country with her. It was all still seeming a bit surreal at the time…
On June 3, I flew in to Grand Rapids and that evening, quickly met a lot of her closest friends and family and we began to pack the U-Haul. On June 4th we finished loading the U-Haul and I vividly remember her mother telling me that “…Seattle isn’t that far…don’t hurt my daughter…”. I told her that her daughter was in good hands and if it wasn’t that far – please come visit soon! We left Grand Rapids that evening and headed for Indiana, where I grew up, in order to quickly “drive by” and introduce her to my family as we began the long journey to Seattle. The evening of June 4th, she met my dad, step-mom, sister, brother-in-law and niece. We even got the chance to quickly surprise my grandmother by stopping by the RV/MH Hall of Fame. The following morning, we got up at 4 a.m. and began the 2,000 mile trek.
Before even getting to Chicago, the check oil light came on…We called U-Haul and they said, no biggie, keep going, so we did. That day, we drove over 1,000 miles and ended up in Wall, South Dakota. Wow, that’s all I can say about Wall, yeah, just wow. The next morning we got up early and left thinking we might make it most of the way through Montana. We actually did better than that, we made it almost to the Washington state border, ending up taking a three hour nap at a rest stop in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The afternoon of June 7th, we pulled in to Seattle, having made it over 2,000 miles in just over 2 days – which included going up the Continental Divide and Homestake Pass at 27 MPH…
June 8th was left to catch up on sleep and it also revealed to us that she had to be back in the Midwest for a meeting the following week, so I was left with a 21′ U-Haul’s worth of contents for a week, until she returned on June 12th. On June 13th, I left the house at 4 a.m. and left her in charge of further unpacking and rearranging as well as becoming more acquainted with the area. When I returned home from work, I found out that she had driven in circles for nearly thirty (30) minutes attempting to get out of the neighborhood, but got frustrated and gave up and headed back home. Trying to explain directions out of the neighborhood at this point didn’t help, so we decided to keep unpacking. That afternoon, after realizing her frustrations, I suggested we go get a marriage license, noting that there is a three day waiting period before you can get married and a validity of 60 for the license itself. The remainder of the weekend was unpacking, sorting, donating and introducing her to my church, Church on the Ridge.
Prior to and after the service, I introduced her to other members as well as the Pastor. We explained our story thus far to the pastor and told him our intentions of getting married and that we had just secured a marriage license. He was very interested in her, myself and of course all that was going on, however he stated that in order for him to entertain a marriage, we’d have to go through a minimum of three premarital sessions with him. We were both completely understanding of this and asked when his next availability was, however due to a vacation planned as well as the Church’s engagement in the community on the upcoming 4th of July, he wouldn’t be available until after then! We completely understood and took the first session he had available, July 7th.
We met with him on July 7th and a lot of good came from the first session. Some of it required even more changes to our lifestyle and the house, but we wanted to do this the right way, and even though everything else had happened at 500 MPH, we were forced to slow down, which for both of us was a good and needed challenge. We had homework from the July 7th meeting and completed that and again met with him the following week on July 17th. Again, another successful meeting, with more homework, this time reading. Reading assignments complete, it was time for the third meeting…July 22nd came and we were super excited. We had the third meeting with Pastor Charlie and we could see the end in sight. After our final “required” meeting, he went ahead and gave us his approval and said he’d be happy to marry us.
…Well, yesterday was July 27, 2014, and I’m happy to say, Julia and I are now Mr and Mrs Rodino. She’s amazing and I’m super lucky…and to think it all began at a Ruby Tuesday I’ve never been to before, all with my mom trying to get me a job in IT.
I’m still looking for an IT job at present to supplement my job at Ride The Ducks if anyone is looking
Justin at 227volts.com