In chapter 11 of my book Get Back Up we lost everything. The shoe repair was closed and we lost all our investments to foreclosure or bankruptcy. We couldn’t feel any lower, but we knew we needed to start over. While we lost all the material things we’d acquired during the last few years, one thing I didn’t lose was the knowledge I acquired about computers and software.
Earlier in the book I talked about my friend Johnson and how curious he was, and how that made me curious as well. One of the things we became interested in was computers. From the moment the first computer kits came out, Johnson and I bought them, built them, and programmed them. Over the years computers and software became a lot more powerful, and I used them a lot to manage our businesses.
Now that our businesses were gone, I had to figure out what to do next. Johnson pointed out that the software industry was booming in CA, specifically in Silicon Valley, and that also happened to be the area where Suzie’s parents lived. I thought that with my knowledge of computers and software, I wouldn’t have any trouble finding a job there. So, with no hesitation we decided to rent a U-Haul truck and load it with the few possessions we had left and head off to California.
I still had a bad back, and there was no way I was going to be able to drive a truck cross-country. Luckily, Glenn decided he had no reason to stay in Florida either, and so he joined us on the trip. So, there we were: Glenn, Suzie, and I were heading west in a 26-foot U-Haul truck loaded with our furniture. Behind that was a flatbed trailer loaded with my car, and in the car were our three dogs. This was sure to be an adventure, but we had no idea what obstacles and challenges we would face along the way.
It wasn’t long before we faced our first roadblock, and that was the Mississippi River. Ever since she was a kid, Suzie had had a fear of driving over bridges. This fear hadn’t stopped her before now, but then she’d never faced a bridge that went over the Mississippi. When we came around the turn and she saw that bridge she screamed, “Stop!” Glenn was driving, and he said, “Stop and do what?” Suzie said, “Go around.” Well, as you probably know, the Mississippi River isn’t something you can just go around. Now maybe if we headed north there might have been a smaller bridge to go over, but I had no idea how far out of our way that would have taken us, and I was very focused on getting to California, so I told Glenn to punch it, and over we went. Suzie wasn’t very happy with me for the next few hours, but we did make it over that obstacle.
Soon we were in Texas. My sister Madelyn lived there and we would stay with her for the night to rest up for the rest of the trip. We had been driving for many hours and it was good to get out of that truck, but we also knew we had much farther yet to go. So, after a nice dinner and some sleep, we were up at the crack of dawn to get back on the road. However, the second Glenn started the truck there was a loud noise from the engine. The radiator had exploded. We called the U-Haul place and they said it would take a day to fix the issue, and so our one-night stay became two. “Just roll with it,” I said.
The next day, after the truck was fixed, we were on our way again. We still had 2000 miles left to go, but we planned to drive straight through. Glenn would drive while I slept, and I would drive while Glenn slept. Even Suzie drove the truck a little, but it seemed to make her car sick. We would learn later it really wasn’t car sickness that was making her ill.
Soon we reached the California border. We had to go through a border crossing that made it feel like we were entering another country. We were asked if we picked anyone up along the way that might be in the back of the truck. We said no, but the border control officer made us open the back anyway. Along the journey, however, our belongings shifted, and when we went to open the back, stuff started falling out. The cop told us to shut the back before it all came out. I guess if we wanted to smuggle people we’d just figured out how to do it.
His next question was a little more interesting. He asked if we had any fruit. I told him I had an apple. He told me I couldn’t bring an apple into California. I asked him what I could do with it and he said I could throw it away or eat it. I pointed out that if I ate it I’d be bringing it in, but he didn’t see the humor in my comment. We still had 500 miles to go, and soon we were on our way.
As we headed north we knew at some point we would have to head west to get to San Jose. We made this turn on Highway 152, which would take us over a pass through the Diablo Range. We had no idea what to expect as we faced this devil, but it was another obstacle we couldn’t go around. It was dark now and the road was very steep. Our 26-foot U-Haul towing a car could barely handle it. With the gas pedal all the way to the floor, the best we could do was 15 miles an hour, and soon the cars were backed up behind us for miles.
Just before we reached the top, another lane came onto the right side of the road. We assumed it was a shoulder where we could pull over so that the cars could pass. We were relieved, and we pulled over just in time to hear a loud horn. A yellow Volkswagen beetle passed us on the left, and then a large semi that had been merging into our lane abruptly swerved back into the left lane, almost hitting us. We weren’t on the shoulder — this was a short, temporary lane that trucks were supposed to pull into while cars passed on the left. But the trucks were supposed to keep moving, not stop — as we learned the hard way. I looked to the right and saw the drop below. Glenn hit the gas and got us moving again, but had that truck hit us we would have all easily been killed from the fall down that steep hill.
Our hearts were continuing to pound as we headed down the other side of the mountain, and soon we were in San Jose. We were very surprised when we found a spot big enough for us to park in, but when Suzie’s father came out to greet us, he pointed out that we were parked in a bus stop. I said they could tow us then, and we went into the house to get some sleep.
- Sometimes the best way to play the hand that’s dealt is to fold and wait for the next deal.
- Don’t let an obstacle stop you. Find the workaround. Even if that obstacle is the Mississippi River.
- Sometimes things are out of your control, and the best thing you can do is roll with it.
- Moving forward, even if slowly, is better than stopping.
George A. Santino helps people who want to break down barriers, including self-imposed barriers, to success. Check out his Amazon bestselling book, Get Back Up: From the Streets to Microsoft Suites.