Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Long and winding road

That led me to this door.

The road I've taken over the last 15 years feels like it winds more than a plate of spaghetti. So many items of my history are so far from each other that people at different points can't seem to fathom the others. I look on Facebook and see so many people who haven't ventured far outside their comfort zone over the years and I am partially envious of them. In some ways I love that I've held a myriad of jobs. I love that I've been to more countries than most people have in states. On the other hand, when it comes to identifying with people around me, I feel a little like a citizen of nowhere.

I may have taken you on my journey in previous posts, but let's recap some of it now. I graduated high school in 1997. I tried my hand at college and went away to a closed campus with a big grassy quad that looked like any campus in any movie. Three months later I found myself at home because I didn't get my head in line quickly enough. I don't regret it. It was hard, but it was a step in my process (although I didn't know it at the time). I held part-time retail jobs from managing a video store, to a cashier and front end manager in a supermarket to a computer technician in a store the size of my current living room. And then my big break came; from a friend of a friend I found my way to Gemini Systems, Inc as a technology consultant, but that position had me walking in and out of the front doors of the New York Stock Exchange. In September of 2001, New York hit a rough patch and in January of 2002 I found myself out of work. I worked at Best Buy for a while and as an admissions rep to a technology school for a while and in 2003 I enlisted and have been doing that ever since. I've been in school off and on for the duration of this time.

Today I got told by someone who doesn't know me very well at all that I was full of shit and there's no way I ever worked at the New York Stock Exchange. I don't need to lie. I will not have my integrity questioned. I've always gone to great lengths to leave out names of people in my blogs but I want to outline the connection between myself and the NYSE. My father, Vincent Viglione worked at Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder, Inc (now Natixis Securities LLC). When I was 16 years old I worked as a summer intern at A&SB for Anthony J. Maio, fixing computers. That continued for the following two summers as well. When I went off to college and left my intern days behind, Tony DelBusso went to work there and then moved on himself. The Tony's stayed friends as I stayed friends with Maio. When Tony D. was looking for a young person, Maio passed my name along. Tony D. was working for Gemini Systems, Inc, a small boutique technology consulting firm. Through the mutual Maio connection, I interviewed under Tony DelBusso. Gemini focused on development which is my weakest link so I got farmed out to the NYSE as help desk technician and worked my way up from there. Either I worked there and this is true or I made up names, timelines and connections among people and put it all out on the street for the world to see.

I was told that there was no way I left Wall Street to join the military. I didn't leave Wall Street. Wall Street left me. I had no degree (I'll have mine in 29 days). The economy was in a downward spiral. The hiring boom of the late 90's turned into a hiring freeze in a post 9/11 New York. Did I want to join the military and leave my family after our family loss for a tens of thousands of dollars per year pay cut? Of course not. I was left with little choice financially. Beyond that, my adversary today knew nothing of my personal story. He didn't know that I'm a surviving family member of a NYC firefighter from 9/11. He had no idea that I'm a World Trade Center survivor myself. He took what seemed realistic (or unrealistic as the case may be) according to his frame of reference, which is vastly different from my reality.

Keep in mind that the individual I had this interaction with is not someone who holds much credibility with me or my organization. He has recently undergone a character assassination by his own doing and is held in low regard by the entire United States Air Force. His lashing out against me was a desperate attempt to strengthen his position in a technical argument we were having at the time. When my history and experience played to the clout that I may have the correct answer, he behaved as if he was in a schoolyard, but that is not the root cause.

The root cause is my long and winding road. Just like one of my best friends growing up cannot fathom life in the military, some of my military counterparts cannot fathom my life prior. My friend Alan cannot begin to get his head around getting screamed at by a military training instructor or doing the screaming to young Airmen. Many people here don't know what life is like outside of a sleepy, southern town. Salaries, cost of living, home prices and home sizes are examples of the types of issues most military friends cannot seem to comprehend.

I have abandoned my friends and family. I have abandoned much of my culture, heritage and traditions. I have abandoned certain foods. I have abandoned my career path. To continue the 1960's rock quote theme, "what a long strange trip it's been." It's been a necessary one, however. I've grown as a person and a professional. I've finished my education. I've aligned my finances. I've honorably served my country - I'm a veteran of two foreign wars. The military honored its promise to feed me, clothe me, house me, train me, educate me, and pay me.

I was furious during my negative interaction with this person earlier today. As the night wore on, I changed my line of thinking. My history is so varied that is is virtually impossible for people to bridge the gaps at all times. What a long and winding road.

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