Call Signs

Growing up I always wanted a nick name. With a double name like Ruth Marie life is made difficult in the 80s. Most girls only had one name and many pops stars didn’t even have a last name. So I was out of the cool circle. Many people didn’t get the Ruth Marie thing; I was either Ruth Ann or Rose Marie. Heck, my current boss called me Rose for the first six months I work at Space Camp. I tried dropping the Marie, but Ruth wasn’t much better. It was plain, only four letters. I shared my name with old ladies and a dead baseball player. I couldn’t have had a plainer duller name unless it was Pat.

I longed for the day to be cool enough to have a nick name. I am resigned to the fact that, that day will never come. But I do have a call sign. It is a little different, but you don’t have to be cool to have a call sign. The call sign itself is cool. Call signs are typically used in the military and pilot world. The rules are you are issued or assigned a call sign, if you don’t like it, tough! If you whine about it, you will be given an even more unpleasant one. You have no say in your call sign and if you think you can give yourself a call sign, you will be given Pookie.

It took me a long time to earn a call sign that would stick, heck at one point they wanted to call me Teflon. Crosswind, Staple, Pencil, Scully, and Ping were some of the others issued to me during my tenure at Aviation Challenge, a realistic military aviation experience. I received my current call sign in March of 2007 after my first season training the Space Camp counselors. But it wasn’t until September of that year that it officially stuck. Be Ready Camp 2 was the glue!!! I am so proud of my call sign. I smile on the inside each time someone calls me Red Bull.

I am Red Bull because during counselor graduation I give out the wings. Counselor graduation is very special to me. I remember getting my wings as a camper; I thought they were the coolest thing in the whole wide world. When I became a counselor, they didn’t just give them to us, they pinned them on our collar. I always try to duplicate that in counselor graduations. In 2007 following graduation one of the new staff said my call sign should be changed to Red Bull, because “Red Bull gives you wings.” WOW, something that makes sense. I have red hair and I give out wings. A perfect match and since some people think I am bull headed that can be included too.

Everyone has a story behind how they earned their call sign. Chris, my husband, falls asleep all the time; during his stent at AC he earned Gordo, because Gordo Cooper fell asleep waiting to launch during the Mercury Project. Snapper got her call sign call because she snapped at all of us during counselor training. Biscuit is so skinny that she should and could eat more biscuits. It was either that or Lunchbox. Dumpy was a tall lanky guy who worked my first summer. I love Dumpy! Divot loved golf, and it was random, just like him. But all I remember is when we gave him Divot as a call sign we were standing next to the dumpster. I wanted to call him dumpster.

A lot of counselors come to camp and their call signs stick so well that I don’t know their real name. They are forever called Crash, Speed Bump, Safety, or Summit! There are others whose call signs don’t stick like Marlon or Kim. If your call sign sticks you don’t want me calling you by the name your momma gave you. Staff have noticed I have a tell. The staff can read if I am angry by which name I call them by. If I call you by the name on your birth certificate or the one on the waist band of your underwear, I am most likely mad at you or you have done something heinous. Something bigger and more severe than you are out of dress code.

Gordo has even been given an additional call sign. Most of the AC staff thinks his call sign is Punkin, but that is just what I call him. I have told them, I never met Gordo; I most likely would not like the guy. But when I meet Chris he was a sweet man and Punkin is my loving husband. See how fun call signs can be!

So know I have another name other than the one my momma gave me. It too is a double name. Call signs are a great thing. They are one of the benefits of working at a camp and one of those things that make you smile on the inside. You can call me whatever you like, but please don’t call me Rose or Ruth Ann. I might go Red Bull on you!

Naked Duck-Billed Dolphin

What do a dolphin, platypus, and naked mole rat have in common? You may answer they are all mammals, but the answer I am looking for is intelligent comedy!

The term intelligent design is simply a fancy way of saying someone smarter than all of us is out there calling the shots; but goes short of identifying who the person or creature is. This blog will not address my belief in how an almighty creator moved heaven to make the earth and its vast wonders. I will however, address the fact that whoever this intelligent designer is has a great sense of humor.

Yesterday on my drive in to work I was listening to the regional radio talk show, Rick & Bubba. By the title you can tell it wasn’t an intellectual program. They were debating a dolphin’s place in the mammal family. Bubba did not agree with every scientist in the world on the classification of a dolphin as a mammal. I thought to myself, this is absurd! Bubba pointed out that it swims and lives in the ocean, it must be a fish. But it has lungs, hair, mammary glands, births its off-spring and even though I have never seen this feature I hear it has a belly button. All evidence I have says it is in fact a mammal. But his banter did make me reflect.

If we randomly evolved into what we know as the animal kingdom, why have dolphins not developed gills to be better swimmers? The designer either wanted to add mystery to our environment or he had a great sense of humor. Look at my favorite missing link, the platypus. This creature has it all, a duck’s bill, hair, lays eggs, produces venom, has webbed feet, and a beaver tail. Every teenage girl who goes through an identity crisis should look at the platypus as a mascot of understanding.

The naked mole rat or sand puppy is another cruel joke. The naked mole rat has pink wrinkly skin with little hair, lives in tunnels underground, has adapted to live off of little oxygen, and is effectively cold-blooded. It behaves like ants, termites, bees, and wasps, which is rare in mammals. The colony has workers or soldiers with a queen. Well, this behavior is similar to high school students. Visit a school and watch to see how blindly the students walk up and down the hallway. There will also be an alpha female calling the shots.

I am sure there are more weird, more perplexing animals out there but you get the point. I love the line from the movie Rudy, “I know two things, there is a God and I am not Him.” I have come to the conclusion that there has to be someone smarter and wiser than all of us out there and He has a great sense of humor. Why do something if it’s not truly special! Why make a naked mole rat unless you wanted to show everyone how truly special Earth is in the universe. I think the dolphin, platypus and naked mole rat is evidence of our creator!

Plumber App

Never call me to be your plumber. This afternoon I tried to fix my leaky faucet. This is an epic tale of stupidity, rushing water, and fatigued belly dancing abs. I felt very confident in my repair skills. Heck, I walked into Lowe’s wearing my Carhart jacket – my iPhone. Yes, any sales associate that met me would either think I was a knowledgeable do-it-yourself kind of girl or an American Leaguer. But I didn’t need any help finding the part I needed to fix my leaky faucet. This only increased my over inflated ego. Imagine if Maverick had to fix a faucet in the officer’s quarters… “You never close your eyes any more.” Yes, that was my stupidity. Goose should have fixed the faucets, not Maverick.

So purchase the parts at Lowe’s with no help, arrive at the Willow Creek Estates, and confidently fix the facet. Everything went great, easy peasy rice and cheesy!!! But wait, in my hour of victory I realized that my hot water faucet was not symmetrical with my cold water facet, GREAT SCOTT!!! Visualize the water spout in the twelve o’clock position. Now the cold water facet is perpendicular to the water spout while the hot water faucet is at an obtuse angle to the water spout. I need my right angles. This is not acceptable to Red Bull!!!!

I leave it alone to grab some food. In my darkest hour, I get bored and call Charity. No, boredom did not lead me to Charity, my husband lead me to boredom. While chatting with her I get the brilliant/not so brilliant idea to twist the facet mount in hopes of realigning it. I go in there very willy nilly with my Twisted Taco plastic cup in one hand and my Motorola Razor in the other. I start twisting with the crescent wrench and just as I get it to move I think, “Shouldn’t I have turned off the water.” I have never seen Old Faithful, but the geyser that was my bath tub would rival most any.

I dropped the phone while talking to Charity. She was working at Thomas Kinkade. I rapidly found relief and turned off the water. I know how to re-fix my faucet, because I get inventive. Yes, I screwed up. I used my phone once more before it seized up and died. Yes, the water has gotten the best of my phone. Now I am left with an antique rotary dial phone and my once useful Motorola Razor dead. I tried using my hair dryer on the black beast. But I couldn’t revive her. Long live my cell phone.

Funny thing is, I got my Carhart jacket in lieu of an iPhone. Now with the death of my Razor, my fingers are crossed. But I am not done with this story. I looked Thomas Kinkade’s number up online. I wanted to reassure Charity that I didn’t die in a horrific bathroom accident. I told her of my stupidity and boredom. She laughed and giggled until her abs hurt. See her abs have been in hibernation. She is now taking belly dancing and they are a little sore. She chuckled at me while my friends online knew this would make it to the blog someday.

I love my blog, but I hate cleaning up water. There is water on all four walls, the ceiling and the floor. I am soaked from head to toe and my dog thinks I am an idiot. The moral of this story is, never do plumbing while chatting on your Razor. It will be easier with an iPhone. There is after all, an application for plumbing on the iPhone.

Knives

For the record, I am not speaking of kitchen knives. I am speaking of my collection of pocket and utility knives. There are six knives in my life. I enjoy them with a strange passion similar to a warrior and his spear. Yes, I did refer to a warrior in the masculine. I am not a warrior. However, I would like to see if I could survive in the wilderness with my six knives.

Last Friday I acted as a personal shopping assistant to my buddy Charity. She had selected St. Nick’s Knife Factory to shop for a knife for her valentine. I was so happy to tag along. After suggesting a few excellent knives I knew I had some what of a problem. Yes, I knew too much about knives to be considered a novice shopper. It was so fun. I just suggested knives to Charity. She had the hard part, picking one and purchasing it.

This field trip to the local knife shop sent me into a great deal of reflection. Well, I like reflecting on my knives and the stories behind them. Look at my first knife, an L.L. Bean camping knife. It looks like a butter knife but it is a folding knife with a blunt tip and a long smooth surface for spreading. It is great for making PBJs but sharp enough to cut through most camping tasks. I felt it was the perfect addition to any dorm room, especially mine.

After college I lived in Jackson, Mississippi and worked on the weekends at Twin Lakes Conference Center. Many weekends you would find me swinging from tree to tree on their high ropes course. I didn’t have the finger strength to loosen all the carabiners. I wanted to be prepared for anything I might face. I went out and purchased a Leatherman Wave. For me at the time this was a huge investment. I couldn’t afford the leather case that went along with it, so I put that off for another month or so. Every weekend from that point forward the Wave had a place on my belt.

My days in Jackson and Twin Lakes ended and I moved on to Huntsville and Space Camp. The move to Huntsville gave me a new job and a husband. Our vacation to North Carolina gave me my next knife. I purchased a Columbia River Knife and Tool K.I.S.S. This is the same type knife that climber Aron Ralston cut his hand off to walk away from being trapped by an 800 pound boulder. K.I.S.S. stands for keep it super simple. It is simple, combined razor-sharp and triple pointed serrated edge. Wow!

This knife along with my absent minded nature has almost gotten me into a lot of trouble. Twice I have traveled by commercial airliner to another state with the knife in my backpack. My backpack was properly taken through TSA screening and stowed under the seat in front of me. Once we visited Durham, North Carolina. Then we visited Orlando and the Magic Kingdom. Each time I was shocked to find a knife lager than most box cutters in my bag. It was my fault they were in my bag, but I didn’t force them through security. But each time they went through and each time I checked them after discovering TSA’s oversight.

I could tell you about my Spyderco Rescue 79 mm knife or my Browning or Buck knife. But this all leads me to the same story, I like knives. It is a hobby, a fun collection, and something I can educate the masses about. It is what I do. Most of my friends tell me that I should only pick one knife to take with me each day. But I am rebellious. I like all six of my knives. I like the old number seven, maybe I will find a new one.

Bolonga & Love

It is February fourteen and most people are all mushy and lovie dovie! So I felt compelled to blog about LOVE. To me love is a word we throw about in a reckless fashion and it sticks to every thing like germs on snotty noised kids. Here in the United States we LOVE everything to the point Hallmark and FTD florist created a holiday to celebrate this over used, misunderstood, and poorly defined emotion. So I will attempt to define what love means to me and tell you what I look for in love.

Growing up I loved eating fried bologna. I really enjoyed bologna in my scrambled eggs. To a kid life revolves around cartoons and food. Life as an adult is not as simple. But it should be. While working at Twin Lakes and living with the girls of Akimbo cabin I learned a great phrase to define life simplicity. All one needs in life is “bologna and love!” This phrase came from Lindsey Sistrunk Hardy, a firey red head who fortunately was in charge of the afternoon snacks and organizing the dinning hall at Twin Lakes. She had personal experience in both food and love. At the time she was dating the man who would later become her husband. From my observation they were very much in love.

Life should be simple. All you need is bologna and love! When I ate bologna life was simple. I have grown out of my appreciation for bologna, but it is a cheap and fast way to eat. We see all over the world people starving to death. Even if they had love they don’t have food in their belly. They are not happy and life is not simple to them. You have to have food. It doesn’t have to be expensive caviar, prime rib, or a happy meal from McDonald’s. It just needs to keep you healthy and your belly full and happy.

Love should be just this simple, but love is far from simple or is it? I think love is very simple but the process of finding someone to love and who loves you back is the complicated thing. Being married is complicated, but loving the person you married should not be complicated. There have been times I have wanted to strap my husband to a Saturn V rocket and launch him directly to the moon. Since the Saturn V rocket is no longer in production I will have to find a way to live in harmony with the man I love. Love is never the issue, most of the time it just gets in the way.

Life and love is complicated because we have to live along side people. People are flawed, messed up critters. We are messed up in the fact that we want more than we need. We want a life more complex than just bologna and love. We want to live in giant houses, drive monster trucks, and fly to exotic destinations. We want to hurt the people we care about to get more stuff and do more things. We find people we say we love and our own human nature screws things up and leads to hurting them. We all know the saying, “we hurt the people we love most.” We should be ashamed of our selfishness to accept this as a reason for hurting others. Yes, we all make mistakes, but we should take the blame, say we are sorry, and make good with the people we love.

I really like the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” When I read that passage I am positive that love can not be accomplished without a lot of help from God. I don’t know many humans that can live out their lives loving someone as this verse describes love. Most often love is just what this passages says it shouldn’t be: envious, boastful, prideful, rude, self-seeking, and angry. God is the inventor of love. I learned a long time ago love only comes from God.

We should just live simple. Allow God to provide for us in all things and find someone to love. Love them as God loves us. Anyone care for some bologna?

Path of Life

Growing up my daddy was a farmer and my mother was a momma. That is what they choose to do with their lives, their career. What a person chooses to do with their life is an important part of who they are. Every child dreams of what they will become when they are “grown-up.” I wanted to be a motorcycle police officer in the California Highway Patrol. This was because my favorite TV show was CHiP’s and I loved Ponch and Jon! We are influenced in many different ways on what we will become when we grow up.

There are rewards and benefits to what a person does with their life. Some people define this as a job, work, career, or profession. But I think these words are a poor definition of what you do with your life. For example, job is defined as a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of ones occupation for an agreed price. Doing something for an “agreed price” does not sound like fun or enjoyable. Yes, there are rewards and benefits to what a person does with their life. Commonly we think of these rewards and benefits as a salary or wage. Do you do what you do because of money or because of love?

Many motivational speakers, self-help guides, and career coaches give keys to success in the work place or layout plans on how to better enjoy your job. But that is talking about your career and job. Yuck!!! They make it sound like a mathematical equation that can be solved rather than the scientific process that more appropriately defines life’s journey. Is the road to success a mathematical formula to get the most cash out of your job? Look at Wall Street currently, do you think those CEOs are happy even with the millions in their personal bank accounts?

Look at my parents, one was a farmer and the other a mother. Cash wasn’t the only reward. Each season brought pride and joy to my dad. Each season had its toil and heartache. If my father did it just for the cash it might not have been worth the labor, the fluctuating crop prices, dealing with chemicals and their sales reps. I don’t think a pile of cash makes the handwork, sweat, toil, or sorrow worth it all! That is in the eyes of whoever is holding the bag of cash.

Even though I wanted to be a motorcycle cop in California I turned out to be a space geek in Alabama. There is no four year college program to become a space geek nor is there an apprenticeship for this field of work. The path to being a space geek is not clearly defined on howtogetajob.com but it is an actual profession. To a doctor, lawyer, teacher, fighter pilot, or veterinarian they may think I am making this space geek thing up. But it is what makes me happy. And isn’t that what you want to do with your life? Rather than finding a J O B shouldn’t we find what makes us happy in life?

Success is defined in many different ways to many different people and I am not about to give you a quote from the great big book of success. But success is finding happiness along the path of life. Success or accomplishment is finding people to enjoy your life with a mate, friends, or family and being excited each day of your life from wake up to shut down. Balancing work and play is the key but enjoying the two is what makes life remarkable!

So look around you, are you at work? Are you at home and are you happy? Do you have just a J O B that gives you an agreed price for your grief and heartache or do you have something that you do that gives you more back than just a pile of cash. The rewards and benefits of being a space geek are enormous. I get to work with wonderful people, travel to fantastic places, and learn fascinating space stories. But one of the largest benefits is where I work. I have a Space Shuttle outside my office window during the winter months and I work in a rail car surrounded by aircraft and a lake in the summer months.

Blue Light Special

Growing up I loved watching the movie Smokey and the Bandit. The Bandit would play an elaborate game of hide and seek with Sheriff Buford T. Justice as Cledus bootlegged something cross country. My life is similar to the Bandit’s in that I have had many encounters with the local, state, and federal law enforcement officers. Let’s say I love getting places in a timely fashion, and America’s finest like to keep an eye on me.

I have a long list of blue light stories, countless stories of me doing something stupid or simply speeding. I am sure I could write a book or entertain you for hours with roadside stories of me and a police officer chatting. David Letterman contacted me a few years back for a top ten list, but there was no way I could cut the list to just ten. ESPN wanted to do a highlight segment, but Texas State Police didn’t want to release some of the footage. I inadvertently made the blooper reel of America’s Most Wanted once in Kentucky.

Joking aside, safety should always be your first focus on the road. If you are not using a mobile device while driving to read this blog, please enjoy a laugh on me with one of my favorite blue light stories.

If you have ever traveled along U.S. 61 or U.S. 49 through the Mississippi Delta you will know that it is easy to move fast like a bunny rabbit. Most Delta roads are flat and straight. A driver can see all the way to the Mississippi river levee on a clear day. A driver can break a variety of land speed records if a tractor or cotton trailer doesn’t get in your way. Being a graduate of Delta State University I know first hand how the flatlands can lull a driver into a supersonic trance. I have many, but I think the following is the best.

I was on my way to my dad in the field with a part for his cotton picker. I was driving my silver Pontiac on a clear day. I don’t remember how fast I was going but it had to have been close to Mach 1 based to what the trooper said to me. Once I saw his bright blue flashing lights I knew that today wasn’t my lucky day.

The trooper waddled his way to my window and with a thick drawl said, “Missy I am going to need to see your pilot’s license because you were flying back there.” Being the smarty pants that I am, I reached in my flight bag, pulled out my pilot’s log, and handed the trooper my FAA private pilot’s license. He chuckled like Santa Claus and left me to sweat in my car for a few minutes as he retreated to his car. As he walked slowly he only had my driver’s license in his hand. The officer let me off the hook for my speeding. However, he strongly encouraged me to follow the posted speed limit on the ground.

Since then I have had many other blue light stories. But in all of my stores I was at fault. Sometimes I received tickets and sometimes I was let off the hook. But each time officers were doing their job to keep people safe. Whenever we are running late, worried about time, or just foolishly speeding we are putting ourselves and others in dangers. I can chuckle about some of these stories, but if there was an accident where someone was injured there would not be any laughs. Drive safe, follow the laws, and buckle up!

Space Geeks Unite

Since I was a little girl each time I traveled I didn’t get homesick or eager to get home until I began the trip home. There is something about repacking my suit case that makes want to be home right away. Once on a trip to New Mexico my father asked me on the last days of our journey what I wanted to do next. In a Denny’s in El Paso, Texas I said I wanted to go home. So we crossed Texas in thirteen hours hitting Dallas at three in the morning to end our vacation early. Call me a sucker for home.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel. I would not sacrifice travel just to be at home everyday. Maybe it is just being away from home that makes me appreciate home more. When I have traveled to other countries I have cherished my home country and yearned to see the stars and stripes flying over head again. I am very blessed to have traveled so much in my life. I am lucky to have had parents that instilled in me a desire to investigate the world around me. With that travel and investigation I have grown and learned about myself, my country, and about my world.

My trip to Houston is almost over and I am at the airport anxious to be back in Huntsville. The SEEC conference in Houston is a time for me to be a space geek, relax with friends, and to get way from work and everyday life. I have been to six out of the last seven conferences. And will visit again, but now it is time to reflect just a little bit. On this trip I have visited with former AC staff, old friends, and astronauts. I visited the historic mission control, JSC’s Saturn V rocket, and Ellington Field. I have listened to really great speakers and not learned the difference between yaw, pitch, and roll.

The first year I visited this conference was just after Columbia was lost during re-entry. Lots of the Space Camp gang made the trip. Kramer, Chuck, Dan, Sharon, Anderson, Kat, Rhonda, and Tony are the names that come to mind right now. We visited with friends and tried to get the word out about camp programs at the same time. I remember the huge group that crowded around Barbara Morgan. This year the only ones from that first group who attended are Rhonda and me.

In 2006, the conference organizers added a tour of Ellington Field and the flight operations for NASA aircraft. At the time JSC operated the T-38, the C-9 or Weightless Wonder, the Shuttle Training Aircraft, modified Gulfstream 2, a pair of WB-57s, and the Super Guppy. Each aircraft at Ellington serves a specific purpose to NASA. All of the aircraft had roles in the military or civilian world before NASA took them into service. I love aircraft. There is nothing like the smell of an airplane hanger, especially one that has a high performance jet in it.

During my last visit to Houston, Rhonda, Makins and I visited Boondoggles for dinner and a drink or two. This watering hole is known to many as the hangout for many NASA employees and astronauts. Since that visit in 2007 I have made a friend who told me of the Outpost Tavern. It was once known as the astronaut’s bar. If you are familiar with the movie Space Cowboys, with Tommy Lee Jones and Clint Eastwood, this is the bar where scenes were filmed. So if I visited Boondoggles, I had to visit the Outpost. Rhonda and I walked into the sparsely populated bar. It looked and smelled like a dive, but on the wall were photographs of countless astronauts and other Outpost patrons. There were photos of pilots and astronauts, mission patches and NASA signage. The place looked like it could tell stores of all sorts. There was even a tail hook on the wall. I even left something for the wall from Space Camp there. I gave them a 2009 calendar to hang on the wall.

The highlight of all my trips to Houston and the SEEC conference is the Friday night banquet. To a space geek it is a party like no other. It is a dinner with dancing. Not being a dancer I enjoyed the music of Max Q. Max Q is the band made up of astronauts. During the time they play you can socialize with teachers and other astronauts. It is a laid back event which is enjoyable for the geeks and non-geeks. Makins sister said it best a few years back, the world is in harmony that all the geeks are in one place together. I guess you could call it, Geekstock 2009.

Now I am in Dallas, on my final leg and even more anxious to be at home. I love travel, but it does get old. I miss Chris, Boo and the rabbit. Plus, I left my travel buddy at her gate, B10 headed for Moline, Illinois. Now it is just me. I am sitting on the floor near the gate typing on my laptop. For those who know about my iPhone, I am wearing it and my Dixon is tucked behind my ear. I am eager to get home to my pencil sharpener. Wherever I am and whatever I do, I will enjoy the adventure.

War Eagle

The best travel advice I can give anyone is to make lots of friends. This statement was very true for me today as I flew from Huntsville to Houston, Texas. I have been helped by friends along the way today. From the drive into work up until now, I have been blessed with gracious friends and travel buddies.

Let’s start from the beginning… This morning Boo accompanied me on my drive into work. The plan was to take him to Snapper so she could watch him until Chris returned from New Jersey. Boo being the spoiled dog didn’t want to drive all the way to Madison. He wanted to stop at the half way point to stay at Tater’s with Eco. Boo was lucky and Eco took him in for the day. Thanks Eco!!!

Time warp forward to this afternoon, I was about to wrap up for the day and head to the airport. I was visiting Boo and Snapper at the AC office when American Airlines called me with the great news that my flight out of Huntsville had been cancelled. I was lucky; they had already booked me on another flight, shitake mushrooms! Yes, rather than flying out this afternoon I was booked on an early morning flight and would arrive in Houston Thursday afternoon. As I scurried to call American and arrange for a flight to Houston tonight Snapper helped me call Charity and Chris. Thanks Snapper!!!

I was able to get some satisfaction from Kelly, the American Airlines phone associate. He told me that I might be able to get on a Continental flight that would be flying to George Bush in Houston rather than Hobby. For those not familiar with Houston George Bush airport is on the north end of Houston and Hobby is on the south end near Johnson Space Center. As Ed and Charity chauffeured me to the airport I was confirmed on the Continental flight. Thanks Ed and Charity!!!

Now, how would I get from Bush to Hobby? Hum… Mare! I called Mare who was already in Houston and had the flight schedules for all Space Camp staff coming to the conference. She is like the social coordinator of a sorority house or small southern town. With help from Mare she hooked me up with Nicole who was on my new flight from HSV to IAH. Nicole was being picked up by Leigh and someone else who I can’t remember at the moment, sorry! They would drive me to Hobby where I could pick up my rental car from Hertz and most importantly Rhonda! Thanks Mare, Nicole, Leigh and lady whose name I can’t remember at the moment, but she worked at camp long time ago!!!

The final part of this story is the most fascinating part. As I was pulling my rental car into the parking garage I was behind an Auburn fan from the great state of Alabama. We parked just a few stalls away from each other. He followed me in to the terminal. Hobby has changed so much since the last time I visited that my fellow Alabamian could see my confused look on my face. I was looking for the gates, security, or something that would lead to Rhonda. Mr. Auburn helped me out and pointed me in the right direction. For his kindness, and our connection to the second greatest state in the south, I said thank you and War Eagle! (I am sorry Punkin’ it was just the right thing to do.)

So the next time you get fractious about a flight being cancelled, stop, breathe, and look for your nearest friend. Traveling, just like so many other things, is all about the adventure and the people you meet along the way. Life introduces us to so many wonderful people along the way. Take the time to make lots of friends along the way! Oh, and most importantly take the time to learn college greetings!

Associate Discount

We all dream of what we will do to make money when we grow up. I dreamed of being an astronaut, architect, or teacher. Growing up, I never dreamed of working in a retail store. But the winding road that is my life did lead me to the Barn, a store in the Williams-Sonoma family.

Not being a mall rat by nature, I would get the question, “why work at the Barn?” Just as everything in my life, the answer is not simple. Once Chris and I started dating, I did fall in love with furniture shopping, but I wouldn’t consider the Barn a furniture store. I would classify it as home furnishings. My time at PB started in September of 2003. I had just started a new job at Space Camp. The first days and weeks were so slow and boring. So to pass the time I applied to work at PB 745.

I was single and they were just opening. My first day on the job there wasn’t even a store to report to. I remember assembling the shelves in the stock room and display racks on the sales floor. From those first days with little to no stock in the store till yesterday, where I helped out with the store inventory, I truly enjoyed the people I worked along side. I have learned about leadership, marketing, world class service, and hard work.

I remember helping guests with items as cheap as a dollar or as expensive as furniture or a dinning room table. But I didn’t care about how much I sold in a shift. I did care if I was helpful or if the guests were greeted warmly by me. I tried to answer all the questions asked of me. I never made up an answer or knowingly misled a customer about a product. My favorite thing was to offer gift ideas to guests during the holiday season. I simply loved to help make someone’s day less stressful.

For some of my friends they didn’t see how I could work a second job at the Barn. One friend asked how I could go from working in a job where I was in charge and had control to a job where I simply opened boxes, organized shelves, or swept the floors. It is a simple answer still today, I love helping. I felt if I helped to opened boxes, organize the product and get the items to the sales floor I helped the floor associates provide service and the guests find what they wanted. Working in a job that isn’t about me is where I get the most reward.

My life as a Barn associate did last longer than I ever planned it would. Last summer I left after more than four years. Monday, I visited the story as a temporary employee just for the day. I guess that is what temporary means. I loved my time there. Counting and joking with my friends was better than any day off spent at a spa or hanging by a pool. I just hope my time at PB isn’t over forever, because it isn’t about the forty percent discount, it is about helping our guests and working with friends like Stephanie, Adam, and John… Dumpy!