Taking A Permanent Job: A Change In Mindset

Last night I took a break from binge-watching. You know, the nighttime routine of parking it on the couch with your significant other, snacks or soda or whatever at the ready, zoning out for the last couple hours of the day. Instead we had a living room talk about life, our lives, how things were changing and theorized about how to better ourselves. Our dreams trickled out. Things like buying land, getting out of debt, having a dog, the meaningful corny stuff we generally let live inside of us.

What prompted this talk was a phone call I received two days ago. I was driving my son to my parents house, so they could watch him while I went to the local ranger station. I was on my way to sit in an empty conference room in front of a television with a camera attached to it, to be interviewed digitally from individuals a few hundred miles away for a Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program position. There is an acronym they are using for this ordeal: VTC. Video Teleconference. To me it was more like VRD: Very Removed and Distant. But that was put on hold when I got a call. I had quite a few loose ends out there, in the USA jobs vacuum and knew any phone call could be the next step towards solidifying my dream. I veered off the road as quickly as I could without feeling a danger to myself or others and answered the call.

“Hello this is so and so, FMO of the forest you’ve been working on as a temporary for the last few years.” Uhh-Huhh. I knew this was how good things started because a sqaudee of ours had a similar call when he got a promotion 3 weeks earlier. Was it really happening? Was I really getting this opportunity?

“Yes, we saw you applied for the blankety-blank position and would like to offer you the job.” Holy shit. I’d practiced this many times in my head, how I would respond to such a phone call. I wanted to scream “fuck yeah!”, pound the steering wheel in a hollywoodized way until my knuckles bled. Something cool. I had done it so many times while daydreaming, as I filled out the generic application online for the 140th time, using the mouse to put black pixels within a preformed circle or box, claiming attachment to certain skills, experiences, or knowledge. Instead of being like the lottery winner we all imagine ourselves being when we go inside 7-11 and donate one dollar towards public education, I remained somewhat reserved, momentarily quiet, and calm. Maybe I thought I’d just save the excitement for when my fiancé took me out for a carne asada burrito to celebrate, or maybe it was because I’d spent so many waking hours working towards this goal that somehow it wasn’t a surprise. In that moment on the phone I’m not sure what happened, but it felt like the entire world became lighter.

So last night instead of watching another serial killer mystery series, we talked about the new chapter of our lives involving me being a permanent employee. The change it would entail began revealing itself. We talked about what I’d done to get here, about giving up drinking, about having a kid and how that had changed both of us. The focus of our talk took us from 7:30 in the living room to our 9:30 bed appointment and continued with pillows and blankets. She asked me “so what will your responsibility be now, when you’re in this new role?” And I remembered something a supervisor told us temporaries one time, about the day he got his crew boss certification signed off. He said it was the most nerve-wracking night, laying in bed, and realizing he was officially certified to be responsible for the lives of an entire crew. My thoughts revolved around a similar axis, one of certain differences between being a temporary employee, and being a permanent employee. Leading by example, something I’ve attempted to do in anything I pursue, would no longer be just something I could do occasionally or when I was up for the challenge – it would be an absolute necessity. In order to reflect the positive aspects of the organization I’ve decided to give my life to, I would have to be those things day in and day out. You cannot believe in something and live alternately. People do it of course, but there is no conviction, no substance, no integrity. And I’d like to believe those are reasons why I was offered the job.

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