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20 Years with the FAA

As I recently mentioned, on the on the day of the Alfred P. Murrah bombing I had already turned in my two weeks notice at Best Buy. The bombing took place on April 19, 1995 (a Wednesday), and I started the Monday after that at the FAA. The Monday after the bombing would have been April 24th, which means…

Today is my 20th anniversary with the FAA.

Back in February I wrote about my first day of work at the FAA. As I mentioned in that post, my first job with the FAA was on a national Help Desk. The company that originally hired me was JDL. Back then the Help Desk contract was bid on a year-to-year basis, so there was no guarantee that the same company would be awarded the contract the following year. And if they didn’t retain the contract, there was no guarantee you would get a job with the new company. I was hired during the 8th month of a 12 month contract, and based on what I was told I assumed I would have a job for around five months. Even so, for those five months I would be making almost twice as much as I was bringing home at Best Buy.

As expected, JDL lost the contract at the end of the summer. About the time I had my desk packed up, the new company (Advancia) offered me a raise if I would stay. So, I did. I worked for them for a year before they lost the contract. The next company (BTG) offered me a raise if I would stay. So, I did. Again.

One of the first projects I worked on was physically upgrading workstations. A minimum baseline had been set (a 386 processor with 8 megs of RAM, a 540 MB hard drive. and a 3-COM network card) and every workstation in our organization that didn’t meant those requirements had to be upgraded. This was done by sending small teams of two or three people out to every office across the country and physically performing the upgrades. Within those first 18 months of working there I had spent weeks in Atlanta, Minnesota, Phoenix, St. Louis, and Spokane.

Our part of the FAA was expanding, and word got out that federal jobs were opening for those willing to move. Bryan took a job in San Francisco. Bob took a job in Atlanta.

I took a job in Spokane, Washington.

With help from friends and family, Susan and I packed up our belongings and moved 1,800 miles northwest to Spokane. Susan worked briefly at a local gym before getting hired on by the FAA as well. We were both twenty-three years old. By the spring of 1998 both of us were so lonely and homesick that we decided to move back to Oklahoma. I quit my federal position and was rehired by Advancia in Oklahoma as a contractor back on the same old Help Desk. Susan was able to transfer to another federal position in Oklahoma, and kept her government status.

I worked for Advancia until they lost the contract. Then I worked for one part of Lockheed Martin, and then a different part of Lockheed Martin. It wasn’t until 2009 that I was able to find another federal position within the FAA. I worked for a security group before transferring back to my old job in 2010. Things have changed so much since then and continue to change. I worked in a security department for a while doing security scans. I worked as a domain administrator and enterprise administrator over the network. But mostly, I worked as a jack of all trades, doing what I could for whoever needed help. Some jobs, positions and tasks have been more fun and rewarding than others. Overall, I’ve had fun.

I lost track of all the places I’ve visited for work. Aside from the cities mentioned earlier, off the top of my head I can recall trips to (working roughly west to east): Boise, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tempe, Cheyenne, Denver, Kansas City, D/FW, San Antonio, Baton Rouge, Greensboro, South Bend, Chicago, Columbia, Raleigh, Pittsburgh, New York City, and of course Washington DC — not to mention all the states and cities I’ve visited while traveling to and from those cities. Simply mentioning some of those places doesn’t do them justice. I’ve been to Chicago probably half a dozen times over the years, and D.C. at least a dozen.

I’ve met a lot of great people and made a lot of good friends over the past 20 years. I’ve also drank ungodly amounts of alcohol. If it survives until I retire, I hope someday they name a conference room after my liver. I’ve seen, done, and been through some crazy stuff, from making changes on the fly to 60,000 user accounts to sitting at home during a federal furlough watching CNN day after day, wondering if I was going to be able to make my house payment or not. Oh, and there was that time I accidentally deleted the FAA Administrator’s account…

When I started on the Help Desk back in 1995 there were ten analysts (including myself), two leads, and two support staff. Of those, four (Carol, Johnny, Ron, and myself) remain. Some of the old timers are still around. A lot of them have retired. A few of them died.

I work from home most days now, so I spend a lot of time alone. Even when I go into the office I only encounter one or two co-workers at most. Most of my work is performed virtually and remotely with people who aren’t even in the same state as I am, so there won’t be a big cake waiting for me at the office today (which is good; I’m off work today). The government’s not real big on that sort of thing, anyway. And because I worked for so many different contract companies, there’s nobody that really knows my start date anyway. Even though I’ve been with the FAA for 20 years as of today, I only received my “five years of service pin” last year.

When I took that first Help Desk position I had no idea this job would last more than five months, much less twenty years. Things have changed so much in the past twenty years. It will be interesting to see what the future holds.

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2 comments to 20 Years with the FAA

  • Bonnie

    I moved from mainframe support to the national help desk just as you were packing up to leave for Spokane. I was assigned to support FSAS, which you trained me for with several five inch manuals. I was so intimidated by your young self as you told me more than once not to ask you the same question twice, everything I needed was in those ungodly manuals.

    You’re right though, it’s been quite a journey!! Congrats on your 20 years and all you’ve accomplished for air safety!

  • Darron Noe

    I have an original hard boys cassette. It might still play. Hand written like the one you mentioned. Black cassette tape. I got it from a friend in high school in 1992. He told me that “Scott” was an insurance salesman from indianola Iowa. I never knew if that was correct. But that’s what I told everyone who listened to it. Ill dig it out and see if it works.