Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Welcome to "Heart of Georgia", our new blog which will chronicle our adventure in the Southern USA. After our 8 years in Uruguay (way, way south), we have returned to the U.S. and have settled down in Macon, Georgia. I am going to spend a few boring moments to tell you how we got from Marindia, Uruguay to Macon, GA. After that... it will be business as usual.

After almost 8 years in Uruguay, I could never get fluent in Spanish. After making a few visits back to the US (for work), I started wanting to be able to communicate freely, once again - hence the decision to un-retire back to the U.S. There were some other factors that came into play, but once the decision to return was made, Denise went into search mode and came up with Georgia as our best destination. We settled on Atlanta, finally (edging out Savannah and Macon), as job prospects would probably be better there. While Denise stayed with the house, to get it sold, I flew on up to Atlanta to begin a job search and eventually find us another house.

Finding a job was not as easy as I expected. I really thought I would have many choices, but it turns out that work is harder to find than anticipated. Eventually I ended up working at Home Depot in Decatur, GA (a suburb of Atlanta), in the accounting department. I spent several months there, but when I found a house that looked suitable and went in to talk about using my VA loan, I was told that part time work couldn't count toward qualifying for a mortgage. So I set out to find a full-time job.

Now here is where is gets a little more interesting. Denise kept finding real interesting houses in Macon. But I didn't think I could find a job in a smaller town, if I couldn't find one in Atlanta - so I kept resisting the idea, because I didn't want to end up in the middle of nowhere. Actually, we have been to the Middle of Nowhere in Arizona, but I thought that since Macon was in the middle of Georgia it would be similar.

One night, while we were Skyping about the day's activity, she had me go to Zillow and look at a house she had found in Macon. Reluctantly, I looked. I will have to admit, it was a nice house. So, while we talked, I browsed jobs on Macon's Craigslist and while we were talking I sent off a short email and resumé for a job repairing mobility scooters. We hadn't finished talking when I received a phone call from that company (they are California based and it was the end of their workday). The caller said the was just looking over my resumé. "The one I just sent you a few minutes ago?" I countered. She said she had just logged into her email and mine was at the top. So we talked and she decided to offer me a job at their Warner Robins office (just south of Macon), but I would need to start in a few days, so I could take advantage of some training being offered in Florida. She sent me some employment forms which I filled out and I was hired. This was on Friday.

So, never having met a live person, on the basis of one conversation, I went into work on Saturday morning and informed the Home Depot HR representative that I needed to make Sunday my last day. She understood, since I had already informed them that I was looking for full-time work and the Depot didn't have such an opening.

So, Monday morning, I took off from Decatur, driving down to Orlando, FLA to some unknown destination to meet some unknown person and receive some training. Such is the digital age.

The Orlando office was just being set up and the worker there had only been hired the month before. The technician sent out from California to train us did the best he could in 3 days, and then I was off to Alabama to pick up a van from their shop there, that I would use in Warner Robins.

Fast forward a month.... I am still going back and forth for some training. The shop is ill-equipped and I am not actually doing any repair work. Turns out I actually loved the job, despite the fact that it was often 10 hours day and hundreds of miles driving between customers. But they paid overtime, so I couldn't complain about that.

Denise finally found us a house and I took one look and wrote up an offer. This is our Lake House on Lake Wildwood, GA. It has lake front, a dock. All the things that we would have missed from out beach house in Uruguay. Everything seemed to be going OK.

Fast forward another month... The house is about 30 days from closing. I get a call from the owner of the company. We talk and he casually mentions that the Warner Robins office is going to be closed. They are sending a technician out to finish my training and close out the inventory. Well, it would have been nice knowing that at the outset, I said. He understood that I would be seeking new work, but offered to try and keep me on in some capacity. This is a Wednesday.

That night I went back to Craigslist and once again perused the jobs. I responded to an ad for a bindery person in a print shop. Having worked in graphics and printing, I applied. I got an interview on Friday. We talked and I was offered a 3 day tryout and employment if I proved of value. I let my current boss know I would be going to work on Monday at a new job and if it worked out, I wouldn't be back. He understood.

On Monday, I showed up for work at the print shop and have been working there for the past 5-6 months. It is hard work, but I am happy that I can do it at 70 years of age. The house closed about a month later, and I stayed there until Denise joined me a few weeks ago when the house sold, finally.

The job is with a commercial printer. I am operating an MBO 36" folder and also an old Macey automatic booklet stitcher. Coming from a small printer, this is big time for me. It keeps me busy and I also get to do deliveries, driving up to Atlanta frequently. Every time I drive into Atlanta and hit that horrible traffic.... I am thankful I live in Macon. It is just the perfect size town for us.

Macon is known as the "Heart of Georgia" and for us, it will be a new chapter.