Butterfly Effect Part 2…

Gentlemen, Stoker and I Thank You!

The Federal Government is shut down this weekend.  People are wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth. The alleged reasons are DACA and a big wall, but perhaps the Cosmic Cause is Karma for a lucky couple. Consider the case of Stoker and me: if not for a similar shutdown in 1978 we would have never met.

Shutdown #5: Jimmy Carter vs. the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier

When did it take place? Sept. 30 to Oct.18, 1978
How long did it last? 18 days
Who was president? Jimmy Carter
Who controlled the Senate? Democrats, 59-41; Robert Byrd was majority leader
Who controlled the House? Democrats, 292-143; Tip O’Neill was speaker

The details of why this particular shutdown completely changed the course of our lives are far too complicated to relate here. Back in 1978 I had just graduated UC Davis, and a federal “agency” was very interested in hiring me. So interested, that after some preliminary interviews and tests in California, they were willing to spend money to fly me to the DC Area for final interviews and tests. The scheduled date was in early October, 1978. After the shutdown my interview was deemed ‘non essential’, which it obviously was, at least for them. For me, getting a job was pretty ‘essential’ at the time. The “agency” called to postpone and said to be patient.

Eventually the shutdown ended and I finally flew back east in mid November. The delay allowed me to make some contacts for other job leads. The interviews at the “agency” went very well and I went home 98% sure that my first office would be in Langley sometime in 1979.

Surprisingly, one of the leads, the president of a 7 person private (i.e. non government) agricultural consulting firm, called me a week later and offered me a job. I was stunned. I had really enjoyed meeting him but was pretty sure that my skills and inexperience were not a good fit. I thought about it for a day or two, then decided I would rather work with a small company instead of at a huge “agency”. So my first office turned out to be on the second floor of a bank in Georgetown. Stoker was one of the 7 employees there.

No government shutdown, and I would have ended up in Langley. Stoker and I would never have met. I almost certainly would not have returned to California. I would probably have gotten married, had kids, gotten a divorce (odds are about 40% for first marriages) and stayed in the white collar bureaucracy work world. No return to the farm, no pet goats, no tandem cycling. No 35 years of very happy marriage. A prospect too dismal to dwell on.

So while the politicians argue consider that Fate may be arranging some surprising consequences for some lucky couple.

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