Houston, Hello!

added 4/18/2011 by Bob Hulsey

As many of you know, I was laid off from my cable company job of 19-1/2 years back in November. It's been an unsettling time but I am happy to report that I've found a new employer in Houston and successfully moved most of my belongings last week.

I won't be touching much on baseball in this column so if you are waiting around for some point about the Astros, I have none other than to say that there are highs and lows in job-hunting just as there are in a long baseball season and sometimes the steps you take expecting little pay-off do blossom into opportunities. Anyone who shrugged when the Astros acquired Wilton Lopez or Angel Sanchez should take note.

I knew I'd have to make sacrifices in order to get a new job. Leaving Austin was negotiable, but leaving Texas was not. For too many reasons, I'm just too tied to Texas to feel good living anywhere else.

My first good opportunity was in south Austin but I applied for work all over the state. As time went on, I thought I might land in Killeen, then San Antonio, then Houston, then Irving, then San Antonio again, then Georgetown and finally Houston.

This past week, I said goodbye to several friends and family members who I hope to stay in touch with but, realistically, much of it will now be from a distance. However, I wish to publicly acknowledge them for they did much to keep me going the past four months that have felt like four years.

My niece and her husband, Erin and Paul Denson, offered prayers, emotional support, free meals and the antics of their newborn twins to keep me stimulated. Other family members also gave their prayers and advice for which I'm deeply grateful.

Former co-workers Joe Ott, Rich Reardon, Christopher Gonzales, and Travis Waggoner stayed in touch, offering their advice and encouragement. My apartment manager showed flexibility in keeping a roof over my head during the transition.

The recruiter for the job I landed, Shanna Wright of Comsys, stayed on top of this opportunity every step of the way, even when it was delayed for three weeks by a hiring freeze.

For several years, I had become a regular at Sam's Boat in Austin and many there became constant sources of encouragement, including managers Mike and Lesley, numerous waitresses, hostesses and bartenders. They went out of their way to help me through my emotional roller coaster of a winter. I haven't received the same vibe from the Houston locations I've tried but I strongly recommended the Austin branch if you get the chance.

Darrell Pittman and Bill McCurdy have helped me on the Houston end when asked. Darrell has kept Astros Daily humming while I've run through this exhausting gauntlet of moving and starting a job.

I'm still getting used to some changes. At the new office, security is so high that you must know the door code to enter the restroom. And the code is different for every floor of the building! Trust me when I say knowing that code ranks as high as knowing what codes to enter to get back to my desk.

As a new career begins, I bid adieu to crickets, bike lanes and burnt orange. I'm saying hello to cockroaches, potholes, smoking inside restaurants and high humidity.

One fringe benefit to this is that I'll be able to see and hear more Houston sports than I did in Austin without the Spurs and the Longhorns pre-empting them however I'll have to deal with more NFL blackouts. I hope to get a chance to see the Astros in person more often now than I did while in Austin.

I'm thankful to have this platform to express my appreciation but even more thankful for the warm thoughts I've received from so many. I grew up in Houston and graduated from Aldine Eisenhower way back in the mid-70s. Houston and I have both changed a lot since then and it's time now to get re-acquainted.

Feel free to pass along your recommendations for restaurants and sports bars, particularly on the Southwest side. I'm still looking for a good fit to be my regular “hangout” for when I'm off work.