Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Traveling through time

I bring greetings on this Wednesday afternoon, having just returned from sunny, humid and HOT south Florida last night.  I was there for an interview trip, and by all accounts, things went well.  So we shall see what comes of that.

I often share travel stories in this space, but not to this particular location.  My last visit to Miami, Florida was when I was on the verge of graduating from college, back in 1982!  At that time I felt that a career in supermarket management might be a good fit, as I had spent nearly six years working in a small grocery and had had exposure to nearly every aspect of operations of the store.  I also had an urge to move to Florida in those days, which is a little hard to fathom since it’s not a high priority destination for me now, and I can’t even imagine relocating there at this stage of life.

In any case, my objectives seemed clear, and some time at the library provided me some information about Florida-based grocery chains with ample locations and an established management trainee program.  So I sent resumes to many of them, and received responses from several.  I recall some very basic phone screenings (employers didn’t rely on phone interviews nearly as much as today, of course) and because spring break was coming up I was able to set appointments with two companies.

My first meeting was in the Miami suburb of Hialeah, with the Grand Union grocery chain.  I’m told by a Miami native that the chain went away some years ago, having been absorbed into another chain, apparently.  For some reason, I even remember that I was to meet with a man named Larry Boyajian (suppose a name that distinctive would stick with anyone) and I did on the day appointed, in Hialeah, which is not far from downtown Miami and very close to the Miami International Airport. 

I can still picture Larry:  a small man, deeply tanned with coal-black hair and a neatly trimmed mustache.  He was extremely affable and seemed pretty encouraging about my prospects.

Ultimately I was not chosen for the job.  My assumption was and is that they were better off concentrating on new employees who already resided in the state of Florida, and I never received anything more than a “thank you for applying” letter.

The other chain with whom I scheduled an interview was located in the central part of the state.  I traveled there after my visit with Grand Union, traveling through orange groves and some pretty desolate and lightly populated areas.  I arrived at my prospective employer the next morning only to find that the personnel manager had no record of an appointment.  The receptionist, who was pretty indifferent to my situation and the distance I had traveled, invited me to send my resume by mail—which, of course, I had already done!

As you might imagine, that trip was by car, and I have pretty good memories of the journey.  A good friend accompanied me all the way to Jacksonville, and I left him there at a budget beachside motel, driving all of the next day to Miami and then north to Lakeland the following day.  We reconnected the day after that and then headed home, stopping in Gatlinburg, Tennessee on our way home, because neither of us had been there, either.

Ironic that another job interview thirty-plus years later prompted my second trip to Miami.  This time I flew, so I left Monday evening and returned late last night.   I don’t know when I’ll be back in that area, but I somehow don’t think it will be ANOTHER 34 years!




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