By the year 2000, Tammy had transitioned away from the branch and was working in the back office of the same bank as an analysist. Her job included setting up the rates for new products and researching problems which were discovered after a product had gone live. In the banking industry, products are what they call savings and checking accounts, credit cards, personal loans, etc. Anything that the bank offers as a service is a product really.
Earlier that year, we received some potential devastating news. The bank that she had worked at for almost three years was being bought out by a much larger bank. We had some considerable uncertainty and angst so we prayed that things would work out for the best – and things certainly turn out for the best. I had moved to West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resources in the middle of 1999 and was working as a Database Administrator. Combined our income was just above the poverty line but we were still managing. Through these times of financial struggle, I found out very early on that not only is Tammy gorgeous, but she is also a financial genius. This would help us out greatly later on in our lives.
One afternoon, while sitting at my desk in the old Diamond building in downtown Charleston, I got this call from Tammy.
“So honey, how would you feel about moving?”, she said.
“OK? Where too baby?”, I replied with some extreme curiosity.
She answered with, “Well, the bank has offered me this opportunity to relocate to Wilson, North Carolina. They have a position open similar to what I am doing now but we would have to move. The alternative is that I would have to go back to the teller line.”
The teller line was where Tammy got her foot in the door, so to speak, at the bank. After having worked in the analysist position for a while she had no desire to go back to the teller line. She is not a sales person and as a teller, there was almost constant pressure to sell products to customers. Knowing how much she disliked the teller line, I almost immediately replied with “Sure! Let’s do it!”
I started immediately looking for a job in North Carolina. With Tammy’s job moving to Wilson North Carolina, we decided to make our home Wake Forest with the idea of me finding a job somewhere where our morning and evening drives would be the same. I was very fortunate to find a job quickly working as a contract programmer for a manufacturing company in their Information Technology team. This meant I that would be stepping away from being a Database Administrator and transitioning into another programmer role as I had done before when I was at the WV Treasurer’s office. The change would not be too difficult though being someone who likes to be in control, not being able to have full access to the database was going to be a bit challenging for me. This move also gave us the opportunity to once again be on our own. We would be moving away from friends and family in WV but this time the distance would be much greater than when we were newlyweds. As honeymooners we were only 30-40 minutes away from our parents. Moving to NC would mean less frequent trips to visit our family since our new home would be over six hours away. But the move also came with a huge benefit; our combined salary increased threefold in just a few short weeks. Though the cost of living is higher in North Carolina than it is in West Virginia, we finally had a little bit of money and the monthly financial uncertainty had gone away. An example for the cost of living difference, in WV, our monthly rent for a two-bedroom, two car garage house was $400 whereas in NC, the rent for a two-bedroom apartment with no garage increased to $850. We also needed to pick up another car payment because out commute to work was going to change.
My new found job actually came too quickly. It turned out that Tammy’s official move to her new position in North Carolina would not come until after the bank conversion. Unfortunately, I had to move into our apartment over the weekend of July 4th, 2000 while Tammy remained in West Virginia for three more months to finish out her job there. We took turns driving back and forth over those three months to see each other but the time away from her was nearly unbearable. There were many nights where we would both ask ourselves if the move we had made was the right one. We often cried ourselves to sleep while holding the phone to our ears. We managed but it is not something either of us look back on fondly.