Before I gave the hiring company a start date, I did the right thing. I wrote up a resignation letter and gave it to my manager just like I would if the company was not even closing. In the letter, I gave the closing company a two-week notice. Upon review, management gave me a counter offer. If I was to stay until X-Date, I would still receive severance pay.
The severance pay was based on the amount of time served. I had only been there for nine months and the severance pay wasn’t a lot, but it was worth staying until the date they wanted me to. I wasn’t about to turn down free money, not after the mental anguish I had endured. I then gave the new company my start date.
All was in a plan to finish out my sentence at the dying company and then go to work for a new company. I had escaped disaster once again.
David’s hand had healed and he was working again. The company he drove an hour to get to every day was still struggling. My new job was an hour and a half away from where we were living. We needed to relocate a little closer. We wanted to find something more in the middle of my job and his (1 hour away in opposite directions).
I finished my days with the dying company and my new job started before we found a place to live. We used the weekends to explore places that were for rent. We were not having any luck. Most of the places for rent were too small or too expensive. We kept an eye out in the local newspapers, but we weren’t coming up with anything.
One Saturday we even rode around all day with a real estate agent. She drove us to all kinds of properties that were for rent. She took a lot of back roads and was very knowledgeable about the area. We learned a lot from her.
If you recall during all of our house searching, there seems to be one house with a strange story, like the “Gimp Basement“. Our rental property search led us to another strange house. It was an old country-style home with the front having the main living areas and the kitchen attached to the back, similar to my grandparent’s homestead. The two sections were enclosed together, but the funny thing was, in order to get from the kitchen to the living room, you had to walk through a bathroom or go outside and go around.
Can you imagine how that would have worked? If you were in the living room and needed to check on something in the kitchen when somebody was in the bathroom; Do you walk outside the front door and go into the back? Did you need a key to make that happen? I’m not sure if anyone put any thought into that floor plan, perhaps they didn’t care a thing about privacy… (SMH) (LOL!)
The final place that real estate agent took us to was a place we couldn’t get out of our minds. It was about as close to the middle of our two jobs as we could get. It was a 1970’s brick home that sat way up on the side of a mountain called Bull Run Mountain.
The driveway was just off of a narrow dirt mountain road. The fact that this house was actually on a mountain is what won us over (of course). The following weekend, we called the agent that was in charge of renting the house and took another look. We found out the price had dropped about $200 from when we looked at it originally. DEAL! We filled out all the appropriate paperwork for credit reports and whatever else the landlord and real estate agent wanted. This is the place that we wanted to live!
A couple of days went by and we hadn’t heard anything. We were anxious to find out if we had gotten the place or not (no credit issues, so what was the hold-up???). Finally, we received the word, we got the house!!
After a month of commuting to work 3 hours+ a day, we were going to move!
We informed our current landlords of the “Rent-A-Barn” that we had found a new place and when we were planning to be out of their rental. They were sad to see us go. We were good renters and had been very upfront with them and taken good care of their property. They even tried to sell it to us. We were humbled by their offer, but a lake community was not our dream.
I will never forget the Friday evening that I met the landlord and his property manager at the house on Bull Run Mountain. I left work and headed over the Bull Run Mountain to finish up some paperwork and pick up the keys. The landlord was a tall and lanky man. You could tell by the way he walked he had ridden a lot of horses in his day. He had on a cowboy hat, suede vest, a dark shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots. He walked into the kitchen, put his eyeglasses on and then reached out to shake my hand.
“Welcome to Bull Run Mountain,” he said.
That simple statement almost gave me chills. David and I were finally going to live on a mountain!
The next day was moving day. This time we were not doing the moving by ourselves. We had contacted a moving company for this move. The move from Virginia Beach had just about killed us and we were not going through that anymore.
The moving company showed up bright and early. They loaded the truck and within 4 hours, plus a one hour drive to the new house, we were moved in and trying to settle into the house on Bull Run Mountain.
We loved mountain life. Like at the Rent-A-Barn, there were many animals that lived on the mountain. They visited our yard frequently. One of our favorite visitors was, “Chuck the Buck”. We also got visits from other deer and turkeys and eventually some bear.
We welcomed fall to Bull Run Mountain, but we were still on shaky ground. David was really starting to get concerned about staying at the company he was working for. He had witnessed some of print shop equipment being repossessed. The company wasn’t able to pay their bills. He wasn’t sure how much longer they could stay open. It was just a matter of time.
One night, I was looking through the online job classifieds, trying to help David find a new job. I came across a job opening for a company looking for a press helper. I read the ad to him and he asked me to send them a resume, so I did.
The weather that fall was very strange. Skyline Drive got a heavy snowstorm in October. Little did we know just how strange the weather was about to get.
About a month later, David received a phone call from the company I had sent his resume to. They were interested in having him come in for an interview. He anxiously agreed and set up a date and time to meet with them. Long story short, David received an offer from the company. The only deciding factor was a credit report and a background check, then the job would be his.
After a brief time, David had a new job for a great company. The downside was that the commute to the new job would be a job in itself, but it was either commute an hour to a job with no future and wonder if he would even have a job when he got there, or drive an hour and fight traffic to a job in which he had a future. The decision was obvious, the benefits the company offered far exceeded the hassle of the traffic. We could finally breathe again. No more job insecurities.
The Monday before Thanksgiving, I had just left the house. I was going down the twisting, hilly road to get to the main highway to go to work when I scooped up a deer on the grill of my Jeep. I had hit that buck about the same time I was applying the break going up a hill. He tore the front of my Jeep up but I didn’t kill him. I had damaged his back legs and hips pretty badly and he was floundering around in the road.
I called David, who was at home getting ready to start laundry (he hadn’t started his new job yet) and told him what had happened. He was on his way to help me. I then called the state police and the insurance company. I was just about at the village (town) limits when I hit the deer. There were a lot of cars were passing by, mostly parents taking children to school. Only one truck stopped to see if I needed help.
There were two men inside the truck, you could tell they were just good ole country boys that loved to hunt. After I told them help was on the way, they wanted to know if they could finish the deer off and take him for meat. My response?
“Yes, please get rid of him, I do not want to see that deer any more!”
I was really upset. I loved my Jeep and it was so messed up. The radiator and transmission cooler was leaking fluid all over the place. I couldn’t even drive it. The insurance company arranged to have a tow truck take it to a nearby body shop to investigate the damage. By the time David arrived the men had already taken the deer away. We waited a long time for the state policeman and tow truck to arrive. Needless to say, I did not go to work that day.
On the first weekend of December 2009, David and I had gotten tickets from a good friend of mine to go see our first NFL Football game at FedEx Field. We were so excited. I probably was more excited than David, because I was going to see my favorite team play. The game was on Sunday, so we had all day Saturday to wait.
They were calling for snow that same weekend. On Saturday morning, it was beginning to flurry. David and I decided to run to the grocery store to get some groceries before the snow started to get worse in case it really started to set in. The closest grocery store was about 20 minutes away. We hopped in the truck and were as giddy as school children about the falling snow. I said I hoped we’d see some snow when we were living in the mountains. I was getting my wish!
While in the grocery store, the snowstorm intensified and by the time we were ready to go back home the snow was sticking and had already started sticking to the roads. Earlier in the year, we had driven around a lot in the snow, when we were living at the Rent-A-Barn. That snow was much deeper. David was pretty seasoned and had practice from all that snow. Besides it was just a little bit of snow, we could get home before it got any worse. Or so we thought…
We headed home down the twisting, hilly road that led to our mountain. It was the same road that I had hit the deer on a couple of weeks before. For the first mile headed out of town, the road was hilly. In fact, there were a series of hills almost like there would be on a roller coaster. David had just maneuvered the truck gracefully up and down a series of hills just fine, but that last hill was much steeper than the others and it did us in!
As the truck started down the hill, the back of the pickup truck started to shift around and the truck started to turn sideways. David tried to get it back under control and straightened it up. He tried the brakes, but the truck started to slide faster out of control. It didn’t seem to matter how he turned the steering wheel or mashed on the brake. The truck was still sliding and all we could see ahead of us was an old tree on the edge of the ditch bank… It was getting closer and closer… closer and closer…
David shouted to me,
“Hold on baby, hold on!!”
I closed my eyes and braced myself.