Confessions of a Rocket Scientist
Monday, November 28, 2005
  Working Again - Update

I am once again among the gainfully employed.  I started working a contract gig at a place in Bethlehem.  It’s a telecom company.  The company basically outsources the order fulfillment part of a telephone company.  They are the people who complete the orders for new cell phone service.  I get to test their software.

There is a lot to this company’s product that most people will never see.  When you order new phone service on the web or change your service, this outfit completes the order.  It also operates the customer call center, at least the part that’s in the USA.  Yep, a lot of customer service is done overseas as you have probably suspected.  I won’t tell you exactly which companies use my new company’s services, but they are big.  Anyway, I’m not really an employee.  I’m a contractor.

The up side of contracting is the big paycheck.  The down side is the benefits, as in the complete and utter lack of them.  I can get health coverage, but I pay the entire cost.  Also, there are no paid vacations or holidays.  And the job is not permanent.  I know from the start it will only last as long as the work is needed.  I am projected to work for at least six months with the possibility of more and a possibility of going permanent.  Neither of these possibilities are guaranteed.  But for six months I have a job.  That’s more that I had last month.

I got some bad news this weekend.  I tried getting in touch with a former co-worker and discovered that he had passed away.  He was diagnosed with colon cancer about the same time as I was.  His disease had progressed to stage 4, which means it was spreading beyond the colon.  He had some spots on his lungs.  It looked as though he had beaten it, but this was not the case.  After 2 years he was experiencing severe back pains which turned out to be tumors on his spine.  Things deteriorated rapidly.  Those spots on his lungs had spread to the point that he had trouble breathing.  His kidneys also shut down.  My friend passed away in September.  I will miss him.

His name was Mark, and he was the kind of person who always had a smile and just made you feel better whenever you talked to him.  He was a fundamentalist Christian, which caused more than a few “discussions” between us.  But Mark was the kind of guy who could agree to disagree with you and go on being a friend.  I admired that quality.  The world is diminished by his passing.  And if Heaven has e-mail, he is doubtless clogging it with his humorous stories.  I look forward to resuming our “discussions” when we eventually meet again.

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Location: Quakertown, Pennsylvania, United States

Two time cancer survivor, happily married, LaSalle Alumnus

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