More Places to Visit – Day 17

2013-01-12 22.01.02
After my sea days, I was a prime employment target for civilian federal security agencies.  I was interviewed by all of the three-letter agencies.  One had me visit a guest lobby in a hotel for an interview – they wouldn’t tell me who they were or where they were coming from.  Of course, it was pretty easy to figure it all out but playing Secret Spy was kind of fun.  All of the agencies except one – the one we decided to go with – would have had me moving to and working in Africa or the Middle East for “the first ten years or so”.  This would mostly have been isolated or unaccompanied duty.  Well, I had been at sea for almost five years and it was taking a toll on our family.  As much as we both wanted to see the world, we knew that more separation was not the thing to do.  We really did not want to separate from the Navy either but the Navy wanted more sea time from me and that was unacceptable to us, as well.  We wanted to be more like a normal family – growing up and growing old together.

So in the end, I opted to go with the agency that had an F, a B, and an I in its name.  I ended up working for them for about 21 years.  After hitting a glass ceiling at that place, I then worked for another nine years at a place with a D, an O, and a J in its name – doing mostly the same kind of thing I did at the first place but in a much broader and comprehensive way.  My 30 years in civilian federal government and my seven years in the Navy were awesome, rewarding, fascinating, and completely satisfying.  (I can say that now but there were times when…)

The FBI was an amazing adventure from beginning to end.  In the spirit of my last post, I enjoyed the many places that we lived (not many) and worked (many, many!).

We started out in Columbia, SC.  More of the South but a bit different than Charleston.  Columbia was home for several years – we had our two little boys with us and it was really special.  Career and little ones started to slow us down just a bit, but we were finally able to be together in the evenings most of the time, the FBI was a good employer, and I was still very much dabbling in some fascinating stuff.

After Columbia, we made our way to northern Virginia where I worked for an FBI Headquarters organization.  And I did this the rest of my time with the FBI – I was able to spend many trips and days with the excellent FBI employees in the field. What they were and are accomplishing every day says a lot about their tenacity, creativeness, and determination.  Working for the FBI was a ride that I will forever cherish.

I can’t begin to think of all the places I worked, but let me try:  Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Portland OR, Salem OR, Reno, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Denver, Albuquerque, Cheyenne, Boise, Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Sun Valley, Billings, Butte, Denver, Grand Junction, Dallas, El Paso, Austin, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Little Rock, Des Moines, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Chicago, Jackson, Biloxi, Birmingham, Knoxville, Nashville, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Columbus, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Key West, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Atlanta, Charlotte, Charleston WV, Camp David, Baltimore, Philadelphia  Pittsburgh, New York City, Newark, Trenton, Long Island, Brooklyn, Boston, Hartford, Albany, Buffalo, Hartford, Boston, Lewiston, Portland ME, Bangor, Honolulu, Anchorage, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  And so many more little towns and spots on the map – along the Rio Grande in Texas, on huge ranches in Montana, on a stallion farm in Washington, on the cold and barren northern U.S. border with Canada across Washington, Idaho, and Montana, and countless tops of building and mountains where our ‘equipment’ was often located.  All these to name a few.  I can remember, I think, a story from almost every one of these places.

And while I certainly am not in a contest of any kind to figure out who has visited the most places, I can say that I have visited enough interesting places in the U.S. to have a pretty good opinion about geography, climate, people, food, customs, local sports (Montana has five-man football teams!), and so much more.  I have truly been blessed to have been able to work in and visit these places during my FBI career.

At DOJ, I visited many of these same places – I was in some of the places multiple times.  I got to where I carried a coffee punch card for a special coffee shop in Bellingham, WA because I visited there so often.  I actually was able to obtain free coffees there every few months because I was such a regular visitor.  Each time I stayed at a hotel in Renton, WA the nice people at the front desk always gave me the same room – a quiet corner room in the back on the fourth floor.  The proprieters at a hotel in Salt Lake City also tried to give me the same room every time that I visited.  How nice.

I, of course, collected air miles – Regina and I were able to take a few trips together on free air miles.  And hotel room points – that was a nice benefit, too.    This all isn’t much, but I was able to collect miles and points as a federal employee and it made the travel just a little bit less painful.

We visited and worked in and advised at “off-sites”, command centers, field offices, border crossings, points-of-entry, resident agency offices, “points”, “covert locations”, roof tops, surveillance centers, operations centers, and all kinds of interesting places.  I did what we would do in vans, trailers, buses, hotel rooms, tinted-glass vehicles, four-wheelers, some donkeys down on the Mexican border in Texas, small airplanes, subways, abandoned missile silos, the top of the Superdome in New Orleans, Cold War blast shelters, state police facilities, and so many more.  It was most always a long day or week or month, but it usually made for a good story.

I’ve enjoyed my career with the federal government.  Professionally, yes, but also because of what I’ve been able to see, who I’ve been able to work with, and where I’ve been able to go.

A memory…

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