Sunday, September 9, 2012

Up In The Air

...about whether I should do this 50-mile race in Flagstaff or not.

It's not that I don't know whether I'm in shape to do it. There's a simple answer to that question -- I'm not in shape to do it. No way. Not even close. I've been lazy ever since Pikes, and have gained a couple pounds, and am not eating right, and am barely running at all. But I'm not all that worried about that. I am pretty sure I'm fit enough to make it through the 50 miles even if I have to walk/jog the whole way. And I love Flag, and I love walk/jogging. So I want to do it, for all of those reasons.

I'm actually worried about money.

Here's the deal: I applied for a job at ASDB, and if I get it, it comes with a whopping pay cut -- at least 1/3 less than what I'm making now. Why would I do such a thing? Isn't it stupid to not make the most money possible, and get ahead as far as possible in life? Well, no. I have thought about this for a long time, and the conclusion I've come to is that I value time much more than I value money. If I work at ASDB, as a teacher I will get huge chunks of time off. A week in October for no reason, a few days at Thanksgiving, a whopping 2 weeks at Christmas/New Year's, and then there is the Holy Grail of summers off. Not that I will be able to afford to do much. It's not like I'll be traveling the world on my vacations. But the things I like to do the most, and have the least time to do properly right now, are the following:

1) write -- I really am supposed to be a published author by now, and I'm not
2) train my dogs
3) work out

I could fill a day with those things so easily. It would be so much nicer than cramming them in at the end of the day, when I'm tired and don't feel like doing anything except reading. And most of those things have minimal cost associated with them. I already have computers. Dog training takes treats, those are cheap. New running shoes occasionally, gas to get to trailheads, what else do I need?

Not that that's the only reason I want to switch jobs. It's not even the main one. The main reason is that I want to do something different. When I switched from training guide dogs to teaching cane skills, I gained a bigger, better understanding of my field. For the first time I understood that blind rehabilitation was more than just guide dogs. I got to understand the foundational skills people have to acquire in order to be able to use guide dogs safely. If I switch to kids I feel like that will give me a better understanding of how people form concepts that are essentially visual in nature (cardinal directions, the layout of a city block, etc) when they've never had vision. Plus, I love working with kids. Don't get me wrong, I love working with veterans too. But I sometimes (usually) feel like I have too much energy for the V.A. The pace there is leisurely. Most of my clients have the same eye condition and don't have much real need for mobility training. With kids there is a much greater variety. There is also a lot more challenge associated with working in a school environment, simply because I don't know the first thing about how it is structured or anything like that. It would be a whole new world to master. I do love the V.A. And I have no complaints about it, or about the way it's run. Everyone there does a great job. I like management, I like my coworkers (95% of them, anyway), and I love my clients. But I just can't see myself spending another 20 years there just so I can have a great retirement.

I look at it this way: when the economy tanked, a bunch of people lost big chunks of their savings. Some people lost $50k, maybe even more. You can work at a job that isn't challenging for your whole career and then what? You retire and look back and think about how you could have been challenging yourself with new things this whole time and weren't? THAT'S what I find hard to live with. I swear when I retire I will be happy with a tiny studio apartment in a blue-collar part of some city. I don't need a giant house, a cleaning service, and trips around the world. In my whole life I've never cared much about material things, so I don't think that would change when I retire.

This post got away from the subject. So, the race. I'm paranoid. If I get this job, I want to cut all unnecessary expenses until I see exactly what the difference in paychecks is. Travel to Flagstaff is definitely an unnecessary expense. And by the time I pay $50 for the dog sitter, probably close to $100 for gas round trip, at least $50 for a motel, that's $200 right there. Wouldn't it be better to save that for, say, the phone bill? I think maybe so.

Of course, the big question is whether I will get this job or not. I interviewed on Wednesday. The interview went great. It was a panel interview, seven people, 20 questions. I believe I answered all of them well. The people liked me. I liked them. I'm quite sure my enthusiasm for the job was evident. BUT I don't have any experience teaching kids in a school environment. So if anyone else interviewed who did have that kind of experience, they might very well get the job over me. On the other hand, I'm pretty well-qualified AND I know I nailed the interview. Also, this position was open last month, and then closed, and then reopened. So that leads me to believe they had trouble filling it the first time and didn't have a suitable candidate in mind. Also, since the school year has already started, I think (hope) that most O&M'ers who work with kids probably already have jobs. I put my chances at getting this job maybe a little above 50/50. I just wish they would let me know one way or the other. If I get it, great; if not, I will just look at it as, oh well, now I get to earn the bigger salary for a while longer. It's not like I hate my current job, not at all. I like it. I just want a bigger challenge.

I guess I will go ahead and make the travel arrangements on the assumption that I won't get the job, and then if I end up getting it I will just cancel them. Surely I will hear next week, right?

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