As the kids got older our expenses grew and it became more and more difficult to make ends meet. Finally the dentist told us that Ben needed a palatal expander and if we didn't take care of it right then, the roof of his mouth would become more and more "bony" and it would require surgery to fix it if we waited too long. If we did it right away it could be fixed with braces. That is when I decided to take on a second job to pay for Ben's braces. After much consideration I decided I would throw newspapers. I didn't want to miss out on my kids lives and since newspapers are delivered at 3:00 AM I figured there would be little conflict with a job like that. I had no idea how to get a paper job so I made a few calls and learned where the paper distribution center was. I got up in the middle of the night and walked into the center. As it turns out, the area is divided into several "districts" and each district has their own manager. It is up to the individual managers to hire people so I found all the managers and finally found someone who had a carrier who wanted to downsize their route. I took part of the route and after a few days with no "errors" I was given a full route.
At first it seemed like the job would work out well but I soon realized that with my life style I just wasn't going to be getting enough sleep. Sundays were the toughest days, the papers didn't arrive until late, they were huge and if they weren't delivered on time people would complain and complaints are not well tolerated by the managers. I finally started taking the older kids with me to deliver Sunday papers. I paid them well and for a while it turned out to be a lot of fun. It didn't take long however for the kids to get tired of being woke up in the middle of the night and before long it was only Brandon and I throwing papers on Sundays. We have a lot of fond memories from those nights.
One day I asked Brandon how much money he had saved. I was quite surprised to learn that he didn't have anything. I was paying him quite well but every week after I paid him he would take the money to school and spend it in the school store. I pointed out that if he had saved it he could have paid for a brand new bike but he didn't seem too phased by that. He had really enjoyed his weekly treats at school and that is what counts in the end, right?
The other problem with throwing papers is that you have no breaks. Every single day the papers have to be delivered. Probably the toughest night for me was Christmas. I couldn't go to bed early because I didn't want to disrupt our Christmas Eve traditions and then I had to be up early because what young children want to sleep in on Christmas morning?
Before long I began to feel trapped. I was constantly exhausted, a couple of times I even found myself asleep at the wheel stopped at a traffic light (that was scary), I never got to talk to Lisa and we never went out or did anything. Perhaps the worst part was that I was so exhausted I was no longer saying my prayers. That is when I made a wonderful discovery, there was an area on my route where I had to get out of the car and walk through a small apartment complex. It was beautifully landscaped and as I walked among the trees it was extremely peaceful. I decided that if I was too tired to say my prayers before I went to bed or when I got up I should probably say them right there in the middle of that peaceful park. The combinatioin of the quiet of the night, the beautiful surroundings and a very troubled heart made for some of the most spiritual and meaningful prayers of my life. Before long my prayers in that park became the highlight of my existence. During that time I felt like I came to know my God like I have never known him before. I was pleading for a way out of my desperate situation and while no immediate solution was given to me I was given peace and I was assured that a path would be shown to me.
Over the next few months I quit my paper route (after almost exactly one year), I started a masters program at UCSD (paid for by my employer) and I went in and talked to my boss about a raise. To my dissappointment he told me that I wasn't worth the money I was asking for. That is honestly how he said it but what he meant was that an engineer doing what I was doing wasn't worth what I was asking for. I showed him some data that showed that in California engineers doing what I was doing made much more than what I was asking but he blew me off telling me that in those surveys people exaggerated their responses.
At school there were a few students who worked at Qualcomm. Qualcomm was growing very fast and hiring a lot of engineers. Through one of my class mates I got an interview and was offered a job making much more than I had asked for at Hi-Z. After much prayer I realized that this was the right decision for me and I gave my notice at Hi-Z. That was very difficult for me because I loved my work at Hi-Z and I would much rather work there than at Qualcomm but that wasn't to be. Of course Hi-Z offered to match my offer from Qualcomm but I realized that if I stayed on there would be resentment on both sides and in reality it would probably have been a burden for them to pay me what I was getting at Qualcomm. I did offer to consult for them as much as I could and as it turned out that was a really good situation for us both. We stayed friends and I entered a new phase of my life.