I got the first response, then an interview and finally, an offer. They wanted to pay me $26,000/year to become a Technical Writer. This was NOT my dream job, but it would put food on the table and pay for a roof over our heads until my sweetie could find steady work. And after struggling through school since we were married in 1983, it seemed like a pile of money!
I accepted the offer and we prepared to move. Our number one priority was the kids, so we found an apartment in Provo that wasn't too far from my sweetie's aunt who had offered to be our babysitter. I've told you many times that I am NOT a morning person, so getting up at 5:30 was torture for me. At least it was summer when I started, so I didn't have to worry about bad roads and ice. I was hoping to be able to join a carpool so I didn't have to drive the entire way by myself.
The South Area Depot didn't have any facilities for food near the Engineering building, so on the first day, my sweetie packed me a little cooler and I headed out. When I finally got to the gate, I had to be escorted to the building. There was no grass or even paved roads. The area was covered with weeds and large signs that read, "Beware of Rattlesnakes"! The Engineering building was the nicest building out there and it was nothing more than an over-sized double-wide trailer with a tin roof.
I met my new boss and he showed me to my desk...'er desks. They were standard government issue, circa 1950. There were two of them because a desk was cheaper than a wall partition. One of the desks drawers held a box of paperclips, some pencils, and several yellow legal pads. If I needed anything else, I had to ask one of the numerous secretaries.
Now I realize it was 1988, before the days of the internet, but we still had been using computers for word-processing for quite a few years by then. I was not given a computer. Across the partition from my desks was the copy machine that was shared by the entire building. It ran pretty much non-stop. Most of the people working there were government employees. There were two of us (me and another guy) who were contractors and we were both Technical Writers.
The entire South Area was the disposal site for all the nerve agents left over from the previous wars. I was supposed to document the equipment that would eventually burn up all the nerve gas and munitions.
I was assigned a gas mask and as a contractor, I had to be escorted each time I visited "the site." I'm claustrophobic, so putting on a mask was terrifying for me although other than training classes and exercises, I never had to put one on for an actual leak.
The first day was grueling and by 4:30 I was more than ready to go home. That's about the time I heard a commotion over the wall. I stood up to see what was going on. A sizable group had gathered around the copy machine about 10 feet from my desks. A couple of the engineers were carrying a 4-foot blow snake (at least it wasn't a rattler!) they had caught when it slithered out while someone was making a copy. The guys were all laughing and joking as they passed my desk. They wanted to make sure I saw their prize! I quickly turned away and placed my feet on top of my little lunch cooler. I worked like that for the next 8 months....