Mixsonian Larry


Working at CCI

On Monday I show up to work at CCI where I first meet with the personnel person to fill out the standard paperwork for a new job and then Cynthia, the technical director shows me to my new office. CCI occupied the entire sixth floor of the office building at 11490 Commerce Park in Reston.  A modern red brick office building, it was only a few years old, as was most of Reston which was founded in 1964.  As a team lead and project manager, I was assigned an office to myself which had a nice window view looking out over Reston.  After getting settled into my new office, I met with Cynthia which told me more about CCI and the project I would be working on, some of which I had heard at during my interview but she provided more detail.

CCI had three main divisions, a computer division in California that made their own line of mini-computers, a telephony division in New Jersey that made telephone switching equipment and the OfficePower division in Reston where I would be working.  OfficePower was a suite of office automation programs which included word processing, spreadsheet, email, and database applications.  OfficePower had a good reputation and was used by a number of large law firms.   OfficePower used smart (but not PC) based terminals connected to a CCI Power 6 super mini-computer.  This was something I was familiar with as it was basically the same architecture of the Harris Composition and the Harris word processing systems that I worked on, which was what helped me get the job.  This should have been a sign to me but didn’t occur to me at the time, such systems were being replaced by network PCs.

The first week I still had the rental call which made it convenient to get to work, a drive of maybe 12 minutes on bad days. The main factor to getting to work was crossing the Dulles Toll Road. Reston is bisected down the middle by the Dulles Toll Road which splits Reston into a north and a south side with only two bridges over the Dulles Toll Road connecting the to sides which became congested during rush hours.  Even so, on good days I could drive from my rented room on the north side to the CCI building on the south side under fifteen minutes.   Well, that was with a car which at the end of the first week of work I no longer had.  Julie had kept our Volvo back in Florida and I had sold my old ’76 Chevy van as it was becoming too unreliable so I was left without a car and, being out of work for three months, I couldn’t afford to buy one.  Well not a problem I thought, Reston had an excellent bus system with routes on all the main roads with extra buses during rush hour.  I would just ride the bus.  I got brochures for each of the bus routes in Reston that listed their times and stopping places.  There were several options for me to get to and from work, there was the regular bus route that ran all day and on weekends but had longer wait times as the route meandered though both the south and north sides of Reston with a stop right in front of the CCI building.  During rush hour there were several bus routes that had 15 minute wait times, but the closest they got to CCI was the park-and-ride parking lot on the north side across the bridge from CCI.   So I could take the regular bus which took 45 minutes to get to work and be dropped off in front of the office or I could take an express bus which took 30 minutes to get to the park-in-ride then walk a half mile across the bridge to the office.   Either way I would have to walk two blocks from my rental room to the bus stop.  I just had to remember to bring enough quarters.

I generally took the regular bus, even though it took longer it had better pickup and drop off times and a stop right in front of the office was considerably better in bad weather when it was raining, or later when for the first time, I had to commute in snow.  The worst was the freezing rain, I would walk the two blocks to the bus stop under the darkness of early morning in the freezing rain, the sidewalk slick with ice, then wait for the bus to come. I had never been so cold before, I longed to be back in Florida. After several months of taking the bus my boss, Cynthia would several times a week pick me up or drop me off as my place was on her way to work.  

On some days some of us would go out for lunch, but there wasn’t much selection in Reston with about the only places to eat were the McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell on north side and a Chili’s on the south side.  If we had more time we might drive to Herndon and go to a Mexican restaurant there.  Most days I would bring my lunch, usually a sandwich but sometimes leftovers.

Updated: 10-14-2023