September 13, 2010
I took a job at a local factory ten years ago.
I hadn’t been married long. My wife and I had just bought our first house and were planning on filling it with a child or two. Her teaching job at a local Christian school wasn’t far above minimum wage, and the job I had at a local gas station didn’t pay much more. Going to the factory was a choice based much more upon necessity than desire. To me, the thought of having to spend forty hours a week cooped up in noisy rooms with questionable air didn’t seem the right career path. But no one around here went to the factory because of the work conditions. They went there for the money. And so did I.
I was thinking about the future when I walked through those iron gates. I suppose that’s where my trouble started; we spend a lot of time thinking about the future, much of it at the expense of the present. Like everyone else there, I adapted to the working conditions and the shift work. It’s amazing what you can get used to if the money’s good.
Things were okay. Not good or great, but okay. For five years I chugged along in the noisy rooms with questionable air and repeated to myself the words the plant manager told me my first day there: “Show up, do you job, and you’ll retire a rich man.” My daughter was born. Then my son. I tried to picture myself sticking it out for another thirty years or so until retirement, but that was an image I could never really form in my mind. I soon found out why.
Recessions are like volcano eruptions—there are plenty of signs before the big bang. One of the first signs is a slow in manufacturing, and that’s what happened in 2005. Orders coming into the factory began to slow, then stutter, then stop. And in December, I was told I would likely lose my job.
I had a wife, two children, a mortgage, two car payments, school loans, and a thousand dollars in the bank. By then, all the local job market could offer was part-time positions either flipping hamburgers or delivering pizza. Not even the gas station could hire me back.
It was in many ways the worst period of my life. A man wants to work, wants to support his family, and I couldn’t. The faith I had in both God and myself waned. Dark thoughts crept into my mind. I thought my life was over.
That’s when I began writing. Not for publication or distribution, not for anyone’s eyes but my own. It was therapy, a means to try and make sense of what was happening to me and find what I’d lost. The memoir I started became the novel I finished, and through more miracles than I can count, what was once meant just for me can now be shared with you.
Snow Day will be published by FaithWords on October 11, and I can now officially announce pre-sales through just about every online retailer I can think of. Feel free to click on the Snow Day tab above to see the new and revamped book page, thanks to both Katdish and Peter Pollock.
Snow Day is the story of one day in the life of Peter Boyd, a husband, father, and factory worker who lives in the small town of Mattingly, Virginia. He, too, faces a job loss during Christmas. He, too, has a crisis of both faith and purpose. When Peter wakes on one December morning to find a sudden snowstorm has struck his town, the thought of schlepping off to work is too much for him to consider.
So he takes a snow day. Peter calls in not sick, but well.
But Peter’s plans to spend the day sulking about his job are quickly put to rest by the grocery list his wife hands him. Peter has to go into the storm after all—both the one outside in the world and the one inside his heart. What he finds there will not only bring him comfort, it will bring him healing as well.
Snow Day is an easy read for hard times. The truths Peter discovers are the ones I managed to stumble onto as well, though it took me a little longer than a day. If you’re a fan of my blog, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s full of small-town wisdom and colorful characters who will touch your heart and offer you hope.
The Billy Coffey Collection