For those of you who haven’t kept up with my blog, let me fill you in. After a long awaited trip to my hometown and being extremely dissatisfied with my current job situation, I decided that I would try to get a job down there to pursue my dream of becoming a writer and motivational speaker. Through my long distance job hunt, I arranged two job interviews and drove the five hours to Miami late Thursday night so that I could spend all day Friday on the hunt for a job. This is the tale of my life-changing weekend.
I arrived in Miami around midnight, nervous and tired, but excited because I knew my Mama and stepfather were gonna be so happy to see my sons. They basically drooled over them and forgot that I was even there, so it was easy to slip out the door around 2 a.m. and go hang out. He, he.
The next morning I’m over at Anna’s house getting ready for my interview and she’s looking at me like I’m an alien because I’m asking her for directions to the newspaper office that is in my old neighborhood.
“I can’t believe you’re acting like you never even lived here,” she said to me with a stank tone, her eyes wide and penetrating.
“Dawg, whatever,” I responded. I’m just trying to make sure I find the place, I haven’t been around here in years.”
So she gave me the keys to her car and off I went on my way to my interview for a community newspaper in Miami. I had inquired about a staff writer position and they said that they were in need of writers so I sent some writing samples and they wanted to meet with me.
Because the office is understaffed I had to wait an hour before I was even given some attention. I looked around and was impressed. The office was a lot nicer than I expected it to be, given that the paper is 75 years old and it is an independent black community newspaper. The office manager told me where the staff writers office was located and I ventured back to say Hi to my old friend Hansen, who I met when we were both in the journalism school at UF. He is now a staff writer at the newspaper.
A half hour later the office manager calls me to start a series of tests. She tests my copy-editing and my copywriting skills and I am asked to wait another hour while she handles the business of the office. It’s already noon and I’m looking at my watch and thinking, “My next interview is in 2 hours and I don’t even have the directions yet.” I tell her that I will come back later in the afternoon so that she will have time to grade my tests and speak with the publisher, to see if she will offer me a position.
I’m driving back to Anna’s house and it’s soooo hot, a Miami type of heat that I find so appealing. That heat that makes you want to sing, so I sing along with the radio that’s playing all the old joints like, ‘Oochie Coochie, La, la, la” and ‘Booty shake.‘ I’m bopping my head and bank head bouncing all the way back to Anna’s house feeling so alive and so free and so good to be back in the place where it all began.
I just have a minute to grub and get dressed before I’m out the door about to face one of the biggest fears of my life; the expressway.
Look, I don’t mind driving around Gainesville where the furthest I drive is to my church 20 minutes away and the most congested road I travel is Archer Road which takes about 10 minutes to travel from one end to the next, but Miami driving is a whole different story.
I didn’t even learn to drive until I came to college so I ain’t used to those crazy drivers down there and Anna is definitely one of them. They don’t signal when they change lanes, they don’t drink THEN drive, they drink WHILE they drive, they speed like their on their way to perform surgery and I can’t believe they drive like that considering the po-po’s be adamant about filling their ticket quota every night.
So here I am, a gentle baby kitten, making a right turn on 62nd avenue to face the HUNGRY LION, I95 South. My car merges into traffic and I look into my rearview mirror and freeze up. There is a sea of cars all around me, honking, changing lanes and whizzing past. It reminded me of that movie Clueless, when Dionne accidently drove on the freeway. That’s exactly how I felt. I remembered Anna told me that I was going downtown and to follow the signs, but it wasn’t a straight shot like I usually do, if I know that I am going to have to turn right I usually stay in the right hand lane.
But this monster had about six lanes and signs pointing everywhere. I had to check my mirror and move over, check my mirror and move over. I knew I had to get off on Exit 2 but it seemed like these exits had numbers AND letters, I didn’t know what to do. My whole body was shaking, I was gripping the steering wheel at 10 and 2, and I felt tears in my eyes. I took a chance and took Exit 2b, which veered off into a maze of other expressways that felt just like I was riding a rollercoaster, all the huge downtown buildings were towering over me, hiding the sky.
I got off the exit and looked at my directions. I should have been on SW 8th street. I was on Brickell Ave. With no cell phone and no sense of direction I began to cry. This was my biggest fear; getting lost in Miami. I drove around and around until I saw SW 8th street and then stopped for directions at a gas station.
“I’m lost,“I told the gas station attendant, who looked at me like he was amused. “I’m trying to find Brickell Bay Drive.”
“Cojd;lsiwkrm;ajk,â€” he said in Spanish to his co-worker. He turned to me and said, “You’re on the right street, just go down 5 lights and you’ll be right there.”
I thanked him and drove down past 5 lights and feasted my eyes on the beauty of this area. The buildings were huge and grand. Everyone was dressed impeccably, driving their Beemers and Escalades and Jaguars, looking like they are all on their way to a meeting. You know what, I have to admit, I didn’t see ONE white person the whole time I was in Miami! What a culture shock. They’re everywhere up here in Gainesville, but I did not see ONE in Miami. That’s crazy.
Anyway, I finally see the building I need to go to but I end up parking a few blocks down the street and I have to walk back. The building is huge, and proper. The back door to the building opens up to the beach, literally. You walk out the back door and you walk onto the beach. The elevators are polished and marble. I catch a glimpse of myself in one of the mirrors and I frown at my puffy eyes and wrinkled shirt.
I go all the way up to the 29th floor and open the door of Hastings and Hastings personnel service. I take all of these computer tests, fill out a million forms and finally meet with the Vice President of the company who tells me that I am a hot commodity in Miami because of my experience and computer skills. But because I don’t live down there, she can’t set me up on any interviews because most employers want to meet quickly to fill temp positions that usually lead to permanent positions.
“Look,” Jill says, “I’m not telling you what to do, but you need to get down here. It’s job season, you’re well qualified and you will be employed.”
I take all that in just like I took in the marvelous view of the beach that Jill and her staff take for granted. I had not even SEEN the beach in a year and there it was, for their enjoyment and they could care less.
I head back to my car, tired and grumpy but I knew I had to be back in Liberty City, to meet up with the publisher of the newspaper before the office closed at 5pm. It was 4pm so I had a minute but I didn’t know where I was. One thing about Miami, everything is like a grid. Avenues and streets intersect and as long as you can count, you can figure out where you need to go. So, I find SW 7th avenue and figure, “If I ride this bad boy long enough, eventually I’ll end up on the north side.”
So I ride and ride and ride through all of these Spanish neighborhoods, all these chicos staring at me. I’m just looking and dancing in Anna’s car and smiling at my people. A half hour later, I am on NW 54th street back in Liberty City where I grew up.
I go into the newspaper office and am told that the publisher was in a meeting. So I sit and sit and sit. When she finally comes over I am shocked. I expected a little bitty, old lady with glasses and I am greeted by a vivacious redbone who looks a bit like me. She’s precise, nails done, outfit perfect, lipstick fresh even at the end of the day. She sits down and talks to me like we’re homegirls.
“Now, if you had come in a week earlier you could have been on my staff of writers, but honey, I have enough writers right now, but let me see if I can work something out,“ she said.
“Let me say, any need you have in this office, I guarantee I can fill,” I say to her with confidence. “There will be no regrets about hiring me. You have no idea what’s about about to happen.”
She looks at me and smiles and I say, “I’m so serious.”
“Well,” she says. “I was looking for someone to develop my Faith and Family section. That is a very important section that we don’t dedicate enough time to. I need someone to help bring that section to what it needs to be.”
I look at her and smile like I know a secret. “You’re looking at a woman who has made it her mission to encourage and uplift through the written word, not only is it my passion, I love God and I don’t mind sharing what is going on in my heart and encouraging others to grow in the Lord. The fact that I am raising two sons alone, mirrors so many people’s situations that many will be able to identify with me. My readers love me because I am honest, I am descriptive and I speak the words from their hearts, when they didn’t even know they were feeling it.”
“That is exactly what I was looking for. Man, you writers. One minute I’m completely at a loss and the next minute, I have too many of you. But, I see you have some experience in sales, what about a sales position?“ she asks me.
“Well, I can’t work on commission I have two sons to feed.”
“Well, how much plus commission do you want to make?”
We negotiate a price that is EXACTLY what I was hoping to make.
“I just want to make sure that whatever position I fill, that I can do it with excellence,” I tell her earnestly.
“Well,” she says thinking deeply. “We’ll work something out. I have a need in marketing too, but let me tell you, if you give me 6 good months of maybe not doing exactly what you wanted to do, but just getting your foot in the door, you will be in the right position to do exactly what you want to do once the need arises.”
“Well what will I be doing?” I ask her.
“Let’s just say, you’ll be working very closely with me,” she says and smiles. “But let me think about it a little bit and figure out exactly what I want you to do and we’ll iron out the details later.”
Fine with me.
So, I haven’t gotten the final word from her yet but even if she totally changes her mind I still have the personnel agency to fall back on not to mention the other jobs that I have applied for. So, what do you think? Is this amazing or what? Not only am I poised to make EXACTLY what I wanted to make, I’m working in publishing, I have an opportunity to write and I have my family and friends around me.
But wait! I ain’t through yet.
So after this hectic day I go home and relax a bit with my sons and Anna and I decide to hang out. I’m getting dressed when Mimi calls me and tells me that she is coming over.
When she gets there she tells me that she has found a car for me. Her brother is a car dealer and he just bought a nice car from the auction that he wants to sell. We go out and test drive this 2001 Mitsubishi Galant with low miles and she tells me that she talked him down on the price to $4500! Since I had already been saving for a down payment for a car I had almost all of that in my account but she said she talked to him about my situation and the fact that I am moving and he says I can pay $3500 now and the rest when I get settled in.
So, I wrote him a check and the car is parked at my Mama’s house right now waiting for me! A 2001 beautiful car and I have NO CAR PAYMENTS! No DEBT to pay off! I can just drive and be free.
I had been afraid to ask God for exactly what I wanted because I figured it was too much to ask for. But in my mind I said I need to make this certain amount of money and I got it. I said I needed a new car but I didn’t want to make payments and he exceeded that expectation by giving me a true blessing. All I need to hear once I get down to Miami is, “You’re approved to move into your 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment with a washer and dryer” and I will literally FALL OUT!
I think that I am so unworthy of all of this provision. I was so afraid to step out of my comfort zone. I was so afraid to stand up and do what I wanted to do which is go after my passion. I almost let other people’s opinion of me strangle me. It is safe to say, God is lining all of this up for me. The word clearly says, “The steps of the righteous are ordered by God.”
Change means progress, so don’t be afraid. So here begins the next phase of my life. Join me, it’s been a blessing to have you along so far.