On June 27th Ana and I arrived at our final destination of a five-day trip across the U.S. We started in South Hempstead, NY, and headed to El Segundo, CA. Why El Segundo? Well, it just so happens I just got a job here.
To backtrack a bit, let me just share that Ana and I were staying with friends in Manhattan, NY – in the West Village. We were with them for a bit more than a month. We stayed in the city during the week and took a train out to Long Island on weekends to be with my family. All this time I was trying to land a job.
I must have sent nearly one thousand resumes via email and set up nearly a dozen different online profiles for the purpose of landing a gig. Finally I was called to interview in Brooklyn at Poly Prep. They were looking for a network admin, but I took the chance thinking it would be great to stay in NY and be closer to family. In the end I did not get the job because my salary requirements were too high and the person there thought I was overqualified for the position.
Next up I was called and invited to interview at two schools in California. One, Vistamar School, is in El Segundo, and the other, Lick-Wilmerding High School, is in San Francisco. I flew over to interview at each school. Long flight, no leg room, and a horrendous experience with Virgin American later I was offered the position of Technology Director at Vistamar School in El Segundo. Lick-Wilmerding were impressed with me but made the decision to pull back from hiring and instead refocus their search on someone more ed-tech-oriented. I’ve been invited to participate in the search next year. After the visit to California I was also invited to participate in the process for the hiring of a Technology Director at The School at Columbia in Manhattan, but it was already too late as I had accepted the position at Vistamar School in El Segundo.
I was asked to start on July 1. It was mid-June when I got the call. I had a couple of weeks to get everything ready. I asked one of my older brothers to lend me money in order to purchase a car so that Ana and I could pack all our stuff for the trip and not have to spend more on packing and shipping. I bought a 1996 Ford Clubwagon van for $1,500. After dealing with various challenges in registering, insuring and inspecting the van, Ana and I were finally ready to take to the road…with NJ plates.
We took off from NY on June 22nd. Right away there was an issue. In between Pennsylvania and Ohio the van developed a bad oil leak. At one point, not knowing what was going on, we could hear the valves loudly (LOUDLY!) knocking while the engine was running. We purchased a couple of quarts of oil and put them in the engine. That stopped the knocking, but by now we knew we had a problem in our hands. We had to make a call of whether to continue on or to turn around and return to NY and try again later. We continued, thinking we would buy oil throughout the trip to maintain levels.
The next day things got worse. We were now putting some 8 quarts of oil into the engine throughout the day. That was even before the sun went down. I started to worry about money. I knew that between fuel, oil, and food, we were not going to make it to CA. Early on day 3 I found the cause of the oil leak. Turns out that the mechanic who did the tune-up forgot to plug a small rubber cap at the very top of the engine block which is where all the oil was escaping from. How do you forget that? Any ways, I capped it and no more oil leak. Meanwhile, though, I had already purchased 2 big jugs of oil at a Walmart that I could not get my money back on since we were so far away already. Any ways, it was good to know the engine was no longer leaking so much oil during the drive.
Aside from that bit of excitement, the rest of the ride was non-eventful. We saw a couple of sites, ate so-so, and slept at a hotel one night and in the van the rest of the nights. Since we had packed our expensive mattress into the van, the sleep was actually more comfy in the van than in the hotel. We used the shower at the truck stops during the day to freshen up. It worked out well. So, between oil, gas, food, tolls, lodging and showers, we spent $2,065.00 to make it across. A bit on the high end, but having an old van chug away at less than 17miles per galon has its disadvantages.
Now we’re on the other side of the country, and on the edge of the Pacific. We are trying to get into the rhythm of going out to run in the morning before I have to go to work. Ana stays in the apartment doing her online thing and I go to work. No one is at school right now so things are pretty calm on my end. Once students and faculty return I’m pretty sure it’ll be a totally different story. Ana spends her day online and looking across the parking lot of an Inka Pollo fast-rotisserie-chicken-food joint. Pretty much all she sees are large people going in to get more food that will make even larger. Those who are not brave enough to walk from their car into the place sit in their cars for more than 20mins on the drive-thru. Some things in these great U-States never change!
Impressions of being on the Left Coast: I hate having to drive. There is no real way to be independent of a car here. Public transport sucks, walking anywhere takes far too long, and since they have suburb-type zoning laws, all establishments are required to have so many parking spaces around the actual establishments, which makes it worse if you want to walk anywhere because all things are very far from each other. BUT I love the beach, the weather and the sun! Being less than 10mins driving from the beach is fantastic. Not suffocating in humidity and stifling heat in the summer and not having to worry about bone-chattering cold in the winter is great. The weather is great. The beach is great. In all, it’ll take some time for me to warm up to CA, but I have a feeling Ana and I will be happy here.