My friend Sally if you remember from my older blog lost her job in November 2007 and has been juggling things since then with two jobs combined that paid less than her single job. It's been seven years of sweat, tears, and fears. There were many times I've helped her emotionally and financially whenever issues crept up. It's been a crazy journey for Sally culminating to a recent hysterectomy over the summer due to an incompetent primary physician who failed to diagnose her fibroids. Sally did get another IT job in 2012 but that only wound up being a temporary job for five months before she was let go again. Luckily she had still held on to her retail job so at least she wasn't totally out of work.
In the midst of all that craziness, a long time friend of hers who I met a couple times when she lived in Chitown in the late 90s, recently became a IT manager for a major bank in Alabama. Dara had a couple openings for system analysts in her group and wanted Sally to interview for one of the positions. The timing of the position perfectly coincided with Sally's recovery period ending. There was an initial phone interview with Dara herself but Sally would need to fly to Alabama for a second interview with Dara and a couple of her teammates. Sally of course didn't have the funds to get a ticket so a few of us chipped in and got the ticket for her.
The interview went well but for whatever reasons things seemed to be dragging with HR. Dara kept assuring Sally that the HR rep would contact Sally with info on what to do to get the background check going. Then Dara needed to have a separate meeting with her manager since that manager was on vacation when Sally was in town. Sally had to also provide an updated resume to that manager.
Things continued to drag for another week and even though Dara assured Sally that the job was hers, Sally didn't trust 100% that to be the case due to two past times where she supposedly had the job and then the rug was pulled under her. One of those times there was even an offer letter presented so in her mind she didn't want to get her hopes up.
But finally she got the official offer and word that the job was hers and she would be making about as much as she made in her former job before losing it. Needless to say it was a mad rush for me to help Sally pack as much as she could before needing to head down to Alabama. She also had a pet that she wanted to keep but wouldn't be able to take with her initially. Thankfully one of her cousins came through and was able to drive her pet to Detroit to her Mom.
I wound up helping her load up her car and splitting driving duties as we made our way on the 11 hour trip to Alabama and ultimately Dara's home in Birmingham. It was a bit of a surreal experience, both of us excited about her new opportunity and amazed at the timing of it all.
We arrived in Alabama at 1am on Thanksgiving morning. The three of us chatted for a bit before turning in. Thanksgiving Day was spent with lots of Dara's family as well as her boyfriend. We all definitely had a lot to be thankful for this year.
Friday morning we went for a quick breakfast and then Dara took Sally and I for a quick trip to the corporate office as well as a downtown trip and tour of Kelly Ingram Park, located in Birmingham's Civil Rights District. We took a moment there to reflect on the experiences blacks went through in the 60's in the fight for basic rights. Structures of the dogs and firehouses used to confront demonstrators were present throughout the four acre park. It's a reminder that we've come a long way though in some ways even in 2014 and beyond, we have a long way to go.
Before I knew it, it was time to drop me off at the airport for my return flight to Chicago. I said my goodbyes to Dara and Sally. Sally and I kept our emotions in check. But I teared up a bit on the plane ride thinking of not having Sally in Chicago anymore. We've been friends for over 19 years and shared a lot of good and bad times together. But I'm so happy for Sally. One of her friends told her that it was fitting that things came together exactly seven years from when she lost her IT job. In the Bible there are many references to sevenfold and seventh. For example in Genesis it took seven days and nights for God to create the world. On the other end of the Bible in Revelation, there are seven angels to the seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpet plagues, seven thunders and the seven last plagues.
I look forward to visiting Birmingham a little more often in my future.