Cross-Country Local

It’s been a trying time.

As many of you know, I was let go from IBM a little over two years ago — three weeks shy of my 50th birthday. I’m not saying that had anything to do with it, but I’m not not saying that either.

The job hunt has been frothy. I’ve had a couple temp-to-perm jobs, that ended up being strictly temp, never getting that promised employee badge. I’ve also had more job interviews in the past two years than in all the time I’d been working, starting at age 14 — as many as 18 in a month. On at least four occasions, I’d interviewed at least half a dozen times for a job and ended up not getting it. Earlier this month, I had sat through my eighth interview for a position that seemed all but custom-designed for me.

Meantime — and I don’t want to get too personal here — my wife and I were having our difficulties. My getting turned down for that job didn’t help. We have since patched things up, but with one proviso: I’d had this thought experiment worked out, and I was going to put it into practice.

Back in June, I’d attended another one of those professional networking dry wells — you’ve been to them. This one was in New Brunswick, N.J. To get there from our house, it was an easy jaunt on the Long Island Railroad to Penn Station, where I transferred to the New Jersey Transit commuter rail and arrive on time and in comfort. Now, the LIRR starts all the way out in Montauk and goes into midtown Manhattan. NJT goes straight into Philadelphia. SEPTA goes almost all the way through Chester County, maybe all the way to Lancaster County. Lancaster has its own transit system that maybe hooks up with Harrisburg’s. Or, from Philly, I could head south through Delaware into Maryland, pick up the MARC into Washington, and the Metro and its feeders would take me well into Virginia. How far did this chain extend?

The obvious question is: Can you cross the United States from coast to coast, using only mass transit? Yes — in the 25 years the Americans with Disabilities Act, government agencies at the state and federal levels have been pouring money into rural transit. There are also a bunch of options that strain the definition of public transportation, but sound like they’d generate some stories to tell. After The Conversation with my wife, I began working out a route and timetable. It’s possible, and I’m going to do it. Why not?

I haven’t totally given up on getting a straight job in IT consulting again — I’m still interviewing with a couple places. But by the time they make a decision — presuming that decision is yes — we’ll be in the down slope of the fourth quarter, and nobody will be actually on-boarding new employees until January. So I got the time. And my wife and I could probably use some time apart; I know my excessive presence around the house has been an annoyance to her.

As for the boys — they’ll be fine. I’ll be leaving right after the youngest’s 14th birthday, so it’s not like I’m leaving helpless naifs to fend for themselves. And I’m coming back in about nine or ten weeks. IBM had sent me overseas for more than seven weeks more than once when we were all much younger. Nobody who’s ever had a deployed service member in their family would think twice about this.

The way I figure it, this’ll do them so good. They won’t have a bum of a dad lounging around all day doing nothing. If this works out, they’ll have a father who had just accomplished something nobody else has even tried before. Meantime, they can take care of their own damn dog they made me buy for them and which I do 90% of the feeding and walking and cleaning up shit and where was I going with this.

Anyway, I’m repurposing this blog for the time being. Yes, I’ll still be working on my third novel, Augie, while I’m on this expedition. But until I’m safely back home, will be the linchpin of the online marketing of what I’m calling the Cross-Country Local.

On October 19, I will get on the N32 bus a block from the house and will finally leave the nationwide mass transit system 68 days later when I step off the Muni rail at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. I could do it faster, but I don’t want to spend more time traveling in a day than a typical commuter would. (A typical New Yorker, I should say. The U.S. average commute is 25 minutes. That won’t take me between gas stations in some parts.)

I’ll continue to work at and grow my freelance writing and consulting businesses — almost all of which is done remotely already. I do need some cash to get started, though, which is why I’ve initiated a crowdfunding campaign. Whether or not you can contribute, I do hope you can give the Cross-Country Local a signal boost.

So if you’d be so kind, please share the following links with your friends and followers. If you care to support the Cross-Country Local or just track its progress from idea to reality and from sea to shining sea, please select any or all of the following links:

Twitter: #xlclocal





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