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FIELD NOTES: Not so much the heat as the humility

Five years ago this week, I interviewed for the job as economic development director for Anson County. It was a hot day in Uptown Wadesboro, even for late July, with the temperature sneaking into the mid-90s and an unrelenting sun beating down on the asphalt of Wade and  Greene streets. 

My interview was scheduled for late afternoon, and I arrived in town 30 minutes early, not knowing for sure how long the drive would take, and determined not to be late. Since I had a little time, I parked on Greene Street in front of Lacy’s and strolled around town, ducking briefly into H.W. Little Hardware and Parson’s Drug Store. I was wearing a dark blue suit, which was great for an interview, but a little uncomfortable pounding the pavement on a sunny July day. I was just a little sweaty by the time I crossed the street to the Chamber of Commerce for my appointment. 

The interview was conducted by what seemed like half the population of the county. I brought six copies of my resume, which I mistakenly assumed would be plenty. For such a large group, the interview was well organized and concise. They knew what questions to ask, which frankly isn’t always the case with economic development interviews. The most complicated question for me to answer was also the one I knew they were sure to ask: Why was I leaving what appeared to be a pretty good situation in Statesville? I took a deep breath, prefaced my comments with the acknowledgment that I took no joy in airing Stateville Regional  Development’s dirty laundry, and proceeded to give them the honest answer to that question. My boss had run afoul of a couple of elected officials, and they wanted him, and everyone associated with him, gone. In a twisted mirror version of the common phrase, it wasn’t business, it was strictly personal. My job/life/career was merely collateral damage, an afterthought. 

That was a humbling confession to have to make, but it was also freeing in a way. The months preceding it had been filled with sleepless nights, bouts of anger and depression, and above all, the feeling I had been betrayed by people I considered my colleagues, and maybe even my friends. That simple admission was the first step on my road to healing. A route I am still traveling. 


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