20 Years Ago…A Great Adventure Took Place 3…09/05/2014

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United_States_Antarctic_Program_logoThings got busy at the house and I was on nights so I forgot about this.

The interview…That was quit the day. It took only one day, but it was long. The reason it was so long was because of a bit of controversy, but more on that later.

To start with ASA flew me from my home in Grand Rapids, to Denver. There was something about this flight, as I flew the first leg from Grand Rapids to Chicago. I remember seeing the southern end of Lake Michigan with a Lake Carrier on it, and thought that it might be one of the last times I see a sight like that for a while. That little voice inside of me was telling me you got this. So I went with it.

I flew into Denver in a whirlwind, as I followed the directions that they gave me. Onto a SuperShuttle, to this hotel in Englewood. With the flights and the shuttle ride, it took me about 6-8 hours. I relaxed in front of the TV, ready for the next day.

I think I was scheduled for around 9am, so I got up around 730 am and got ready. I had to catch a hotel shuttle to ASA headquarters. I found out that this was one of the main staging hotels for ASA, so I wasn’t alone that morning going to the ASA. I was greeted by the receptionist who, page Kathie Sharpe who had interviewed me over the phone. I spent about half an hour with her, going through my qualifications and what it was like to winter over (Kathie had wintered over a few years before). Next was John Gress. He interviewed me for about an hour on some of the same things. It was then that I met J.P. (Jon Parlin) winter over station manager. J.P. had wintered over 2 or 3 times before and was doing this for the money. We talked about life at the South Pole in the winter, and the question came up how do you handle being depressed/being isolated. I think I said something like I lean back on my Christian faith. It was a natural answer for me. However, that set off alarm bells. I don’t remember getting grilled more about it from JP, but a some point, JP, John, and Kathie had a meeting. I went to lunch with Kathie and John, and I felt the probing of the questions about my faith. How important, how do you interact with non-believers. It seemed. Odd, and I was naive enough to not realize the scope of this.

After lunch I met the 4th player in this day, “The Mayor” of the South Pole aka the Area Manager, Jim Gardener. The two of us had a talk. I remember him being a large guy, mild mannered and soft spoken. I don’t remember the conversation, but it was cordial, and went well. Then I was in an office waiting…

Obviously, I got the job or I wouldn’t be writing this memoir. However, much later (like during the winter later) I would find out something about the day. It seems that with my raising my faith, that JP was worried that I would be some “Holy Roller” in your face. Those of you who know me that I’m not an in your face type, and while I might disagree with peoples’ choices, they are there own. Kathie actually fought for me, I found out later, because she too was a Christian and she reminded them that I could sue for discrimination based on religion. In the mid 1990s, I probably could have.

However, there were some things that needed to be done that I had missed out on. A full physical, and a psych evaluation. The physical could be done by a doctor of my choosing at home. The psych eval would be done on the “ice.” Everyone else on the winter over team had their’s done. I would have to wait.

One other thing, though, I was on double secret probation, which I found out while wintering over later. It was all due to my faith in Christ.

They had me sign papers and begin the process of preparing to go south. By 4:00 pm, I had a job in meteorology, and I would be living for a year that few people still have yet to venture. They called the Super Shuttle (I had my bad with me), and they got me out to the airport. I called my folks, and my roommate, had supper, and boarded a for plane home.

I still use this interview story as a part of my testimony, how God puts you where you need to be if you are in His will. I believe that He was there through the whole process.

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