A Tale of Two Cities: From Milligan College to Muncie, Indiana

I’ve recently wrote about my first two years at Kentucky Christian College and my one semester at Milligan College so I thought it would be appropriate to share how I spent the year 2001, the year everything changed.

Life at Milligan was better than at KCC, but it wasn’t as different as living in Muncie, Indiana. It wasn’t just the location that changed. The world was changing all around me. There was a new President in the White House. People were just getting cell phones for the first time. And then there was September 11th.

My best friend got married. I moved into an apartment for the first time. I began dating someone who would eventually become my wife and my roommate did the same. We both worked at Old National Bank. It was our first professional job outside of maintenance or factory work. We all went to Ball State, but it didn’t start out that way.

The Big Move

I was home from Milligan on Christmas break and I was working at Franklin Power, a factory where Derek’s dad helped me get a temporary job. Derek was living up in Muncie with Jason. During Christmas break Jason and his girlfriend, who had just graduated high school early, announce to their parents that they are getting married in the Spring. That meant Derek would have to find another place to live. When I heard that I decided not to go back to Milligan, but to move to Muncie with Derek instead.

There was just one problem: all of my stuff was still down at college in Tennessee. I had to drive 8 hours down to college to pick up my stuff, tell the college I wasn’t coming back (they didn’t care), and apologize to my friend, Ben, for not gifting him his own room. You see, he had been my roommate and had he not switched roommates, he would have had a room all to himself. I helped him decorate his new room before I left, but as soon as his roommate got there, he promptly tore it all down.

I moved to Muncie with $400 I had saved from working at Franklin Power, but I didn’t have another job lined up. Derek and Jason both worked at Chili’s in the kitchen and although Jason got me an interview with the manager, I decided I didn’t want to work there and so I didn’t have that opportunity when I moved there. I worked for a couple of weeks as a vacuum cleaner salesman before landing a job moving furniture for a furniture retail outlet called Stout’s Furniture.

The Big Changes

I applied to get into Ball State, but it was too late to get into the Spring semester so for two months I worked 7 days a week moving furniture for $5.25 an hour. It was here that I got my Chauffeur’s License and began driving a 30-foot straight truck 10 hours one-way down to Tupelo, Mississippi to pick up furniture from the manufacturer. Instead of paying me overtime, he would give me $150 in cash for each trip despite getting 2 hours of rest (includes packing) before heading back.

Eventually mowing season started and I used my experience mowing at camps for both summers to convince a local landscape company to hire me full-time. I was now making $6.50 an hour. I got a second job at Old National in July, but continued to mow until school started in August. Old National paid $7.47 an hour. After school started I started selling books on Half.com until November when I got a second job as a maid at a local hotel making $5.25 an hour.

I met Suzanne, my wife, on AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) the same week I started at Old National and on Thanksgiving I cleaned rooms and made beds at the hotel in the morning before driving out to Tipton to have dinner with her family for the first time (in the house I own now). I also worked Christmas day and New Years day. I didn’t know how to quit the hotel until Old National told us they were closing the Muncie facility, but offered me a job at over $10 an hour if I would work instead in Indianapolis, which I did.

The Muncie, Indianapolis, Greencastle, and Franklin Connection

I asked Suzanne (MusicGirl158) to marry me in September and by August of the next year we were married. We’d take trips down to Tennessee to see her grandparents over the weekend. She went to Depauw University and would drive from Greencastle every day two hours one-way to come visit me in Muncie. When I chose to move to Indianapolis I chose to move back in with my parents until a few months before I got married when I moved to Greencastle, where I lived alone for the first time in my life.

Ben did not return to Milligan after his second semester there and so I helped him get a job at Old National with me. Eventually Derek moved from Muncie to Franklin and also got a job with me. Derek, Ben, and I all worked at Old National in Indianapolis at the same time until Ben got the tip of his finger cut off in a mowing accident and decided to go back to school at Johnson Bible College. I eventually left Old National after I was passed up for the managers position and every other lateral move I had applied to at the organization.

While Ben was working mornings mowing I was working mornings repairing computers and while the businesses were the hardest to deal with, there were a few homeowners that were equally as hard. I once had a woman scream in my face, “Every other person in the world can print wirelessly!” when I was having trouble setting up her wireless printer. It turned out to be a problem with the Subnet Mask address, which I didn’t understand at the time, but had to figure out that day. She later called to say she didn’t have an icon on her desktop. At least she paid.

It’s All About the Community

It’s not all about the money, and it’s not about where you live, it’s about who you know and who you choose to spend your time with. I had a core group of friends from Fair Haven that I ended up going to college with at KCC, Milligan, Ball State, and IUPUI. I went to KCC and Ball State with Derek and Jason and I went to Milligan and IUPUI with Ben. I worked with Jason, Derek, and Ben at Old National. Together we spanned 6 colleges in 3 states over a period of 8 years.

Jason and Derek graduated from Ball State in Muncie after first attending KCC. I graduated from IUPUI in Indianapolis after first attending KCC, Milligan, and Ball State. Ben graduated from Johnson Bible College after first attending the University of Indianapolis, IUPUI, and Milligan. Jason, Derek, Ben, and I are all now married with children. We are all active in our communities and our churches. We owe a lot to our early mentors and our contemporaries who showed us a path forward and when the world was literally changing around us, we stood strong.