In 1985, I needed to find a real job. I was finishing my third year in grad school at UT-Austin. I was starting on my dissertation. It was time to grow up.
I got invited to an interview at a college in Fort Wayne. I flew up from Austin. I spent the night at the academic dean’s house and then spent the day talking with students and faculty, teaching a pretend class, and looking around town. It was a pretend class because it was finals week and there weren’t any real classes to teach. Some students and some faculty showed up in a room and I lectured.
Then I flew back to Texas.
I got a call from the dean. Richard said that some people wanted me but some weren’t sure. I understood that. The classes I was going to teach were in communication. The part-time faculty member they had was a stereotypical deep-voiced formal speaker. He was impressive. My style, on the other hand, was pretty relaxed. Rather than impressing students with my speaking ability, I was concerned with helping them overcome their fears and improve their abilities. And I’m odd sometimes.
Richard said he was flying to Austin to learn more.
It was a great visit. He met Nancy (which let him see the one normal person in our marriage). After one of my classes, a couple of students came running across the campus to thank me for a wonderful semester. He heard me teach at church.
I got the job.
Richard was willing to take a second look, to give me another chance, to spend time on getting to know the person rather than judging by an artificial performance. It cost him some money. It changed our lives.
This post is part of Robert Hruzek’s group-writing project.