That day began like any other. At least it began like any other in that no cosmic, life-changing things were going on, but it did differ in that this was a company party day at the beach instead of a company work day in a dark model home garage office in the desert. So the day began at a movie theatre in San Clemente. Our division president spoke to us about the recent lay-offs (I worked for the nation’s biggest home building company, and this was the summer of ’06) and what the held. I appreciated his candor (those of you in the corporate world know that BS is often the lingua franca) in admitting that he was generally optimistic but didn’t know exactly what the future held for the company and industry at large. He was a big deal in the home building arena in California, was said to personally know Governor Schwarzenegger, made a million or two a year, but was a very approachable guy. His bold candor was accompanied by an even bolder mustache, but one rendered respectable by a shock of voluminous, swoopy salt and pepper hair. In holding forth about the state of homebuilding, he reminisced about some home building recession in the 80s that he weathered by taking a couple years off to focus on competitive sailing. No big deal. This was said as if to reassure we enlisted troops that we too could pass through this coming hurricane and have a good time doing it. Maybe I could sell my computer and Ikea couch to finance a few years of swimming with dolphins in Bali. But I wasn’t too concerned about all this. I had seen that Southern California was about to sink into the Pacific and had arranged to take a promotion in New Mexico.
After the meeting in the movie theater, we drove to San Onofre Beach. I had been excited for this. But after a few minutes I thought “why was I excited for this?” It’s at these events that the social structure of an organization steps fully into the light of day. I had always felt a little out of place at this company. I had made a decent effort to befriend people, and had some friendly relationships. But at these big events, you realize that the people you are closest with are usually much closer with other people, especially if you are relatively new. They go drinking with these people, maybe went to school with these people, sometimes dated these people. I felt a little left out at these events, which was a feeling I wasn’t used to; a feeling which made me wish I had put up a better effort to include people throughout my school years. But this lack of intimate work relationships didn’t concern me too much because I was married and wasn’t very interested in being friends with these people outside of work. I think many of us Mormons (including me) can be bad that way. We have a built-in social system which lends itself easily to clannishness. We have a host of popular activities, words, and conversations that we don’t engage in, and we want our friends to have kids we trust our kids with, so we don’t “venture out” too much.
My least favorite of these functions had been the celebration we had after winning the JD Power Customer Service award. After the rah-rah rally we were let loose into this very small amusement park (think of an outdoor Chuck E. Cheese, but 5 times bigger) to have our fun with free kiddie rides and games. I did my best to suppress the self-conscious feeling welling up in my throat at the weirdness of a grown man cruising around a two-bit amusement park alone in the middle of the day. It was either that or join up with a group of dudes I didn’t know well who were following around another dude I didn’t know well who was deciding what whack-a-mole type game the group would go play next. I left after half an hour.
But this day wasn’t that bad. I had been around a year by now and was closer to a couple people than on the amusement park day, and at least there was the beach. Plus I won an iPod in a raffle.
Earlier that day my cell phone ran out of batteries, so I stowed it away in my car. At around 3, I decided go to my car, turn it on to charge the battery, and listen to my messages. The first one was from Rebecca. “Hey hon, I’m at my OBGYN appointment and the Dr. says I am having regular contractions, which isn’t normal, and she wants to take me to the hospital across the street to be monitored for 20 minutes on a machine. Call me.”
Second message: “Ok, I’m at the hospital and they have me on this machine and I keep having regular contractions, and she says if it continues they might have to take me in and do a C-section. Hurry and call me back.”
Third message: Sobbing throughout: “Honeeeeeyyyy, She says they are going to do the C-section. I’m so s-s-s-cared. You need to g-g-get here!”
To be continued…