Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lone Star State lures Steve Hammer

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 8:00 AM

The State of Texas Lone Star Flag, courtesy of Paul Orear.
  • The State of Texas Lone Star Flag, courtesy of Paul Orear.

On Jan. 16, I received a phone call and an email I had been looking forward to for months. It was from a hiring manager at the large telecommunications company where I am employed, making me a formal job offer for a senior technical support position that I, and 700 other applicants, had applied for in November.

I accepted the job. As a result, this weekend I will board a plane and arrive in San Antonio, Texas, leaving behind Indianapolis, my beloved hometown, for a few years at minimum.

click to enlarge hammer.jpg

I've signed so many non-disclosure agreements and deal with so much proprietary information at my job, some which would expose me to civil and even criminal penalties if disclosed. As a result, I'm not sure what I am legally allowed to say other than I will be a high-level technical support analyst in the network operations division of my company and, with overtime, could be looking at as much as a $70,000 a year raise over what I earn now.

I'd turned down two such job offers in the last year. But with President Obama safely re-elected, and the economy picking up steam, accepting the offer and moving to Texas seems like the best move for me and my family at this time.

As a result, after consultation with my NUVO family, I will cease writing this column by the end of March, at which time I hope to return to Indianapolis to celebrate my new life at a party with my friends, family and you, the readers who have meant so much to me over the past 20 years.

Columnists of any kind rarely have a 20-year run in print media. Either they get fired or they take better jobs or they simply get burned out. I am proud of the fact that only a few writers in Indianapolis have equaled my two-decade stint in print — all of them legends.

That degree of longevity puts me, by that measure only, in the same league as Dan Carpenter of The Indianapolis Star, Deb Paul of Indianapolis Monthly and my mentor and hero, the late Tom Keating, whose daily columns in The Star from the 1960s through the 1980s inspired me to become a writer and have my own voice be heard.

When I started doing this column in 1993, there weren't very many unapologetically liberal or progressive voices in the local media of Indianapolis. And there certainly weren't any outrageously provocative figures ready to challenge The Star's conservative coverage or mock the Hoosier State's pompous politicians.

Sometimes my outrageousness cost NUVO readers and, just as importantly for any newspaper, advertisers. It is to Kevin McKinney's credit that, as editor and publisher, he has never once censored any of the nearly 1,000 columns or 3,000 stories I've written for this newspaper.

I still have eight more columns to write for NUVO, so this isn't a goodbye. It's just an announcement of breaking news in my life. I'm very excited to see what challenges San Antonio and my new position have in store for me. Being selected over so many applicants is humbling to me and I'm eager to start my life over in a new state, albeit a very scary and Republican one.

I've watched the Zapruder film of JFK's assassination enough to know how they treat liberals in Texas so I am rightly concerned for my safety. Since I'm no Jack Kennedy, I'm pretty confident that there are no Lee Oswalds laying in wait with the back of my skull visible in their rifle sights.

Prior to my departure from the Indianapolis office of my company, I sent a lengthy email to my coworkers, some of whom are discouraged by working in an ever-changing environment for not a whole lot of money. To answer their most frequently asked question, I told them I don't know why I was picked for this lucrative new job and they weren't.

I concluded the email with this thought, which, despite its excessive capitalization and boldface type, honestly reflects my views, not only about my job but about America — still the greatest country in the world in terms of freedom and opportunity:

"If you play by the rules, act with integrity and show up to work every day, you WILL get a shot at a better life. Whether you make that shot depends on how well you've prepared for it. You are here because you were selected over of hundreds of other applicants who also wanted to work here. The company believes in you; it spent thousands of dollars training you. Your manager believes in you; his or her own job is dependent upon your doing well. Your friends, family and coworkers believe in you; they love you and want you to do well. The only other thing is to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF."

I'll have much more to say in the next eight weeks, but I'll be doing so from San Antonio, Texas, where I'll be busy at my new job and trying to turn the state Democratic.

Until then, as always, thanks for reading and may God bless you all.

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