I landed in tech school in rural Minnesota in the Spring of 2017.
A two-year program, Non-Destructive Testing is self-directed, which means you have flexibility of scheduling your courses and it takes people longer than the 2 years if they are working or have other commitments.
Within the first two weeks, I met OBC, Old Biker Chick, which is how she introduced herself. (She has a name, but will remain anonymous.) Donning a black https://www.harley-davidson.comHarley Davidson t-shirt, turquoise and silver rings on most fingers, black biker boots she could be heard throughout the cavernous laboratory. She spent time with the Hell’s Angels before returning to MN to help her ailing mother and discovering the NDT lab.
At the time I began, enrollment in the laboratory was around 150, with 9 of those students identifying as female. (When I graduated, I was the lone lady in the lab, except for one of the professors.)
After introducing herself, OBC said, “Hey, do you know anything about Connecticut? That’s where I am headed. I landed a job there and I don’t know a thing about it.”
“Are you kidding? That’s where I moved from! I lived there for more than 20 years!” I thought she was kidding, but then again, how would she know where I came from? I remembered fingering the necklace I wore. It was from one of my dearest friends back in the state I had called home for most of my adult life. Suspended in the middle of the chain was the outline of the Nutmeg state, with a tiny heart in the middle.
“Really? Are you kidding?” she asked me.
“I’m not kidding! I thought you were!” I thought about how good my time had been in the Land of Steady Habits, the friends I had left behind, the glorious fall leaves, the trails I had walked back East.
I paused. The necklace was more than a token. It was a talisman, a reminder, a lucky charm.
“Do you know what this is?” I held out the necklace. We both knew she didn’t. “It’s Connecticut,” I said as I unfastened it.
I reached out and put it around her neck. “You are going to love it. It’s beautiful in the Fall, especially. It has everything – the ocean, hills, plus it’s close to New York City. You can find whatever you want there!”
“Oh my God! Are you giving this to me?” she was shocked.
I knew what it was like to strike out on my own to a new and strange place. I wanted her to feel confident about what lay ahead, because who really knows? I had been sent off with the blessings of people who loved me and I wanted her to have the same.
“Tell me about this job you landed,” I peppered her with questions.
She was two years more “mature” than myself. I wondered who would hire mature women after I graduated, let alone allow me to move back to the state I had grown to love for so long, most of my adult life.
In two weeks time, OBC graduated, but we kept in touch on Facebook.
A year later, she sent me photos of the antique farmhouse she purchased. Hardwood floors, a lovely yard. “When you land a job with Pratt, you can stay here, I’ve got extra room,” the message read.
Two years after our first meeting, I got a job offer with Pratt & Whitney and OBC contacted me. She was having surgery, would I be in town, by then, to help out?
I landed at her doorstep a day before her surgery and one week before my new job.
Connecticut, I owe you more than taxes.