Real Men Work

I’ve had a lot of gigs. Everyone has, but it wasn’t until a night a few weeks ago when the kids were quizzing me about my jobs that it hit me how many I have actually had.

The first of course is a cliché and now non-existent but I had a paper route. I inherited it of course from my older brother and had to deliver The Press up and down Pembrook road after school everyday. That it was an afternoon paper was strange but it was a good gig in that I could do it after school.

Towards the end of it’s life The Press decided to switch to a morning paper. I don’t recall how long this lasted but I know it was near the end, Cleveland could not support two newspapers. So there I was in the morning darkness before school, walking up and down Pembrook because at time you still put papers in front doors and milk boxes and mail boxes, not lying at the end of the drive-way. I was just a few houses into my rounds; just dropped a paper into an old ladies front door and was headed to the house next door. It was a side door drop off but as I came off of the front porch a massive wolf tore toward me.

It was terrifying and I was sure this suburban beast was going to maul me to death. Thankfully it stopped half a yard away from me to terrorize me before going for my neck and ripping out my throat. It was that brief moment that brought me to my senses and I realized this was in fact the dog from the next house I had to deliver to. It was a dog I was very familiar and friendly with but not on these particular terms or in this time frame.

“Pepper,” I said to the border collie. “It’s me.”

And that was all it took. The wolf was gone in a second and Pepper closed the remaining distance so I could pet her and she walked me over to her house so I could complete my delivery.

As I mentioned the paper didn’t last too much longer so I was forced to find other venues for gainful employment.

Upon graduating from Christ the King School in East Cleveland I told myself that I would never be back here again. Two weeks into summer vacation I was offered a job to work with a couple of other graduates to prepare the school for the next school year. Scraping and waxing floors were the primary job function. I think it paid two dollars an hour and we would routinely travel down noble road to purchase lunch which would wipe out the money we earned in the morning.

Toward the end of that job I was going in alone on Saturdays to wash windows and play with the hamsters. I think I was only being paid for one of those activities. I would also mow the entirety of the grass which was no small job. There was a ton of blacktop but also a lot of grass to be mowed.

Early on in high school I acquired a best friend who worked at a library and he encouraged me to explore the same job. So I applied at a couple of branches near home and soon enough landed a job as a Page at the Noble Road Library in Cleveland Heights.

It was a great job, working around books for a few hours every day. The main function of a Page is to return books to their proper location on the shelves. But a Page could easily lose himself exploring a section for awhile without any fear of reprimand. I must have worked there for two or three years, I know I was there until the end of high school because the Librarians bought me towels and let me go fifteen minutes early my last day there. The towels were for college.

At some point during high school a very close friend of our family opened a restaurant in the Hillcrest Plaza across the street from Richmond Mall. The part owner and family friend, Tom Weiss, is a musical genius and was wholly responsible for my grade school life in theater. Mr. Weiss used to sing the national anthem at old Cleveland Stadium and was the choir director and Christ the King, and other churches. But I’m not sure how sound he was as a business man.

So I worked there as a service attendant, the nice term for a busboy. This was back when I smoked and there was a smoking room in the restaurant where I would go back and liberate cigarettes. At one point I found a entire pack of menthol cigarettes and decided to take them all. A few minutes later I was working in one of the stations when one of the chef’s came out and patted me down, located his cigarettes and retrieved them from my front pocket without a word.

I don’t know why that particular memory sticks with me from the restaurant so much. Possibly because, upon further reflection, I realized that my life was possibly in danger in pocketing that particular pack of smokes. The owner of them was a large individual and not known to be kind person.

Rossini’s didn’t last very long. But there were always other jobs to be had. I got wind of some under the table work at Cleveland Stadium. I must have learned about it through Tom Weiss again because his relatives and daughters worked there with me for many events.

The way it works in Food Service for venues like Cleveland Stadium is the company that runs all the concession stands will bring in volunteer groups to work all the stands. The reward for working the stands is that the group would get some percentage of the money raised from the stand.

Well the St. Malachi group was working the system on a whole extra level because they would pay us kids thirty bucks a game cash to come down and work a stand. I worked a lot of Indian’s games, froze my feet off during Brown’s games and had to suffer through The Who concert when it was so cold all the Kegs in the whole place froze and we couldn’t get enough beer poured.

During many of the Indian’s games in the late Eighties the attendance was so bad that Bill, the guy in charge of the whole racket, would offer most of the workers a half game, where we would be paid fifteen bucks but could leave after the second inning. This led to me watching a lot of bad baseball games because even when working a half game we still had access to the concession stand and the beer fount.

I worked at the stadium until the end of high school too, I know this because near the end I was working a hot dog stand and had already been accepted to college. I must have gotten a free tee when I went to orientation and I was wearing this Wright State University tee shirt while working when one of the manager’s pulled up to accost me.

“Where did you get that shirt?” she asked me.

“I’m going there in the Fall,” I responded while wrapping hot dogs.

“I’m going to be the General Manager at the Nutter Center,” she replied. The Nutter Center was the new huge sports complex that Wright State was building. “How would you like to be one of my Supervisors?”

These kinds of connections seem to pop up in my life more often than they should. When I look back and consider the improbability of all the factors leading to that particular conversation they are unfathomable. That I had decided to go to that particular school, the the GM of the same food service company was working at the Stadium until the Nutter Center was built. that I wore that tee shirt that day, that I was even at work that day. Improbable is probably an understatement, there are so many other factors that all could have missed each other.

The General Manager’s name was Linda and I accepted her job offer and worked for her for four years while I was in college and would later become life long friends with her.

Working at the Nutter Center was an unforgettable experience. I’m sure I learned much more in the evenings and wee hours working at the Nutter Center than I learned in any of my classes on campus.

My freshman year the Nut was still being built but Linda brought me in to help with the hiring. I was nineteen years old, living in the dorms, but interviewing people two and three times my age who wanted to work for us. There was one particular interview, an air force officer came in and I was supposed to interview him. It was the most bizarre work situation I had been in my entire life. Here was this career military guy coming over from Wright Pat because he needed from part time work to make ends meet. The whole conversation didn’t make sense to me at the time. Why would an officer in the military need to get a part time job? It was surreal, but I would learn that it was reality.

By sophomore year the Nut was built and we were hosting events. Almost all of the events were in the evening and weekends so it fit my college schedule well. I worked a ton of hours but by then I had changed majors from an unrealistic pursuit of a degree in Computer Science to a much more manageable one in English. I did harder work my senior year in high school than I did in any of my first three years of college.

I was in college and engaged in the affairs of college students. That being said I was two hours late for the first event at the Nutter Center, and I’m not sure how I even made it in that time frame. Hung over and head spinning I put on my red work shirt and drove over to work. Thankfully the first person I ran into was the Assistant GM and he offered me sage wisdom.

“You smell like alcohol, chew some ice.”

He and I would have an strange relationship but I learned a great deal from him.

So I worked a full time job all the way through college. Most of the events were uneventful. I recall Nine Inch Nails coming to town on a Friday the thirteenth and Trent wouldn’t go on until after midnight, the rumor was because he didn’t want to play on Friday the Thirteenth. I hated him no matter what the reason, I worked until four in the morning and had to be back at eight the next day.

We had many great times over those four years. Anyone I knew at the time that wanted a job could come work at the Nutter Center. They ran the same deal at the concession stands that Cleveland Stadium ran, but you still needed some staff to work with and train the volunteer groups.

And I learned the folks in Food Service work hard but they play hard too. Some of my most vivid memories are the “parties” we had sitting on the concession stand counter while the open beer tap flowed. Everyone in the building was invited and everyone would occasionally attend with the only exception being the Director of the entire building.

Working there taught me many things, not the least of which was my first real introduction into networking and computer networks. All of the concession stands had cash register nodes and they were all wired up to a computer in our back office. Invariably something would happen to the cabling or one of the cash registers and I’d be called in to figure out the issue. I liked that aspect more than counting cups or cleaning grease pits.

I worked there for four years, I graduated there and had my graduation party in the company suite. I interviewed for a job in the box office and considered staying there and making a career of it in Food Service but I had seen enough to realize that it was an unforgiving career at best. Probably because they didn’t offer me the box office job.

I logged my BA and decided to pursue a career of real college life in Athens Ohio. I’d been accepted to their Linguistics program and would leave life in Dayton behind me to learn in Appalachia for a couple of years.

To say I was an average student may have been complimentary. To say I was a lazy student would be frighteningly close to the truth. I was smart enough to be the top of my class in Eighth grade and get into a High School that you had to take an entrance exam for. There I wallowed near the bottom of the pack, nearly in danger of flunking out my sophomore year because I was lazy. But going to a good high school got me into any state school I could have chosen and when I got to college I found the basic classes simple, high school level stuff. Unfortunately I had decided to major in a science and to major in a science you had to be good in math and math, for me, was hard and took effort. Needless to say majoring in any of the sciences and I didn’t get along and once again I almost flunked out my Sophomore year. I finally came to my senses and switched to a nice liberal arts major where I could do things that came easy to me and not really have to work on it. On top of that I could minor in film and take classes where we would sit and watch John Ford and Woody Allen movies.

My senior year of college it all fell into place when I took my first class in Linguistics. If ever there was an aha moment in my academic career that was it. It was my two favorite things, language and science, combined together in one field with no math. I don’t know how I never found it before but once I did I was all in and saw a clear path in front of me.

The path was to Athens to pursue my MA in Linguistics and live the real college life for a couple of years. I had a few of my English Professors write some recommendations and shipped off my application. I specifically recall the Dean of the College trying to talk me into staying at Wright State and getting my Gradual degree there but I knew I had to get out, get away, go.

I was accepted to OU into the Master’s Degree program in theoretical linguistics. I’m not really sure how but I did. There were no perks, I would have to pay for tuition and rent and when I say I would have to pay for it I mean my parents would have to pay for it. I was the last of the children and as it so happens your parents tend to make more and more (or did back then) as they move along in their career, so my parents were basically only supporting me and agreed to set me up in graduate school.

Chris, my best friend from high school who I had visited every other weekend at OU it seems, was leaving OU to go to graduate school at IU but we had enough connections that I was able to secure a roommate slightly off campus and begin the next phase of my education.

Graduate school, however, proved to be a bit tougher that undergraduate school. I went in Gung ho my first quarter signing up for classes above and beyond what was required of me. Further, our apartment required driving to and from campus and this was unacceptable. Thankfully, my roommates girlfriend was over every single night which meant there was an extra car in the driveway every night and this drove our landlord who lived in the house right next door, nuts. He asked us to move out after a couple of months.

That was great because one of my fellow linguistic graduate student’s had an opening at her place which was in town and within walking distance of everything. Finally I had what I had wanted all along. A real college experience in a real college town, walking uptown to the bars, stumbling back down with your liver being the only thing in danger of being hurt.

It was the most outstanding two quarters of college of my life. I was living with three women, two of whom I became very close to and would hang out with, well, all the time. We went out every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and many of the other nights of the week as well. Uptown to Night Court to play pool, or to The Pub, or to any of the other bars on main street. We were graduate students so we didn’t have to worry about getting busted, and we lived two blocks for the best party street in all of Ohio.

Academically I got a job working in the Mac Lab, my job was basically collecting ten cents per print out. I can’t even recall what or if it paid me, there certainly wasn’t a tuition waiver. But that didn’t really matter to me. This time in my life was all about the experience outside of school and working at the lab let me hone some more computer skills and burn up some time in the afternoon before I could head back uptown.

As far as in the classroom went, after the first quarter I settled in and took the classes I needed to without going overboard. Unfortunately I got a grade in Phonetics which was too low to pass as graduate credit my first quarter and I knew I would have to retake that class. This hung in the back of my mind but I was still able to settle in and crank out by B’s and actually enjoy some of my Professors and classes. Historical and Computational linguistics particularly excited me.

So toward the end of my first year I met with my advisor to discuss my second year and what was going to happen and he actually said this to me:

“A Master’s Degree in Linguistics is a doormat.”

A professor and adviser in the Linguistics department told me that the degree I was working on was effectively useless. I was aware of this of course. I had a degree in English, which is in the top ten of useless degrees. But hearing this from this particular person was very deflating. On top of that I knew I was going to have to go above and beyond the two years of graduate school because I had missed a B- by about ten points on one written report my first quarter.

It was thoroughly depressing. I was looking at another six quarters to finish up my Masters and then another four years to get my PhD because my MA apparently was useless.

I had had a good run and theoretically was going to return in the fall but in my mind I had already checked out. I was done with school.

Looking back, while everything worked out and I’m extremely happy with the way things turned out I still maintain that in my life I have only two regrets, and one of them is that I didn’t finish off that degree. I was one year into it, my roommate was pushing hard and finished hers in two more quarters, I could have buckled down and finished mine in three or four more and then I would have always had it on my resume that I had a Master’s degree instead of just Master’s work in Linguistics.

At forty it is easy to look back and second guess yourself on that kind of decision but I regretted it fairly quickly. And not because things went wrong, they always seemed to fall into place for me, but because I was close enough, so close, and then it would have always been something that was mine, but I couldn’t finish it.

So I went home and got a job in a warehouse. My best friend’s Mother worked at a place in Cleveland and they hired me on as summer help welding and bending metal. The particular department I worked in was called High Tech which I though was cool but it was the high tech of low tech. I did learn how to use a spot welder though which was neat.

I told my manager my situation and he told me in no unclear terms, most of them short and monosyllabic, that I should return to school in the fall. At the time I was officially undecided, but internally resolved not to go back. He also told me that if I didn’t go back to school I could stay there and he might be able to find another couple of dollars an hour for me. I really respected him for telling me both things, but knew that going any amount to a couple more dollars of any amount in a warehouse wasn’t really were I wanted to end up.

Fortune found me again and saved my from the warehouse and I landed myself an extremely non-traditional teaching position. I would travel the mid-west, staying at colleges for three week stints to teach improved reading skills to student’s unprepared for the rigors of college life. I would hop in my car in the fall and drive from college to college, live there for three weeks and teach my class, and the jet off to the next place that my Manager sent me.

It was a really cool job, the most nerve racking bit being with the administration at the beginning and end of each gig. But the teaching was fun, I did four or five classes a day of the same content. I could relate to the students because I was just marginally older than them. Most importantly I got to see some spots I would have never had a chance to visit. I started in central PA which was familiar to me but would travel to Virginia and Georgia and Illinois and Kentucky to teach and explore.

I highly recommend it to anyone who is young and has a sense of wanderlust.

But after eight months of that I was done with even that. I remember getting back to my apartment after my last meeting at my last school and completely ready to head home, the car was packed. And as I got back to my car I had a right front flat tire. So I unpacked my trunk, popped on the spare and drove from Illinois to Cleveland on it.

That I would not highly recommend to anyone who is young and has a sense of wanderlust. But I really wanted to get home.

Summer found me at the temporary agency and they placed me at the Cleveland Clinic to do data entry. More computer experience. I knew far more than the ladies I was working for as we tapped away on our terminals. We had Mosaic by then and since I was a temp I had to work wherever there wasn’t somebody which sometimes put me in with the software developers. They seemed to be rarely at work or often ducking out early to play golf or head to Coventry.

I may have been able to make my niche there and stay but it didn’t really feel right to me at the time.

One of the local mammoth law firms was hiring and I took a job with them as the lowest of the lowly. I was making less money than I would have been making had I agreed to stay at the warehouse but I was wearing a tie to work and working with lawyers. Although I was so low on the totem pole very few of them even acknowledged my presence. I tried to move around at the firm. There was a very small writing department, but nothing there to support a full time position. There was also an IT department but the were more snobby than the lawyers and wouldn’t even let you visit their floor let alone talk to you.

After a fall and winter there I was looking around again. The law firm had great perks, even for us lowly minions, but finding the first year attorneys the morning after they had been up all night asleep at their desks, and knowing that they had spent so many years at law school to get this treatment had me turned off to this particular line of work.

In the spring I saw a help wanted ad in the paper for an Assistant Webmaster and it was the same kind of aha moment that I had in college when I found Linguistics.

A company called Book Stacks Unlimited was looking for someone to help support the Webmistress do her job. I  worked up a new resume, sent it in, and was called for an interview. I remember walking into the office and thinking this was _IT_. This was where I needed to be. There were cardboard movie standups all over the place, books stacked floor to ceiling, while everyone was working at a PC and I was 16 floors above public square in downtown Cleveland.

I have no idea what I said at my interview, the main thing I recall was the Webmistress telling me that my main job responsibilities would be checking email, reviewing and posting book reviews, and reading magazine’s like Wired that she couldn’t keep up with. Her main concern with me was that I shared the same name as her husband.

When you open a very large lock, I used to do this at church as a trusted altar boy, when you get the dial in just the right position there is a very slight but very satisfying click and couplers fall into place. And when you have finally turned the dial to the last digit and crank the big metal bar from the closed to the open position there is an extremely satisfying sound and sensation of things falling into place.

That is what was happening in my mind during my first interview. I could potentially go to work for a company that sold books on the Internet. Back then that was radical. There was no Amazon at the time, there was just barely a World Wide Web; yes there is a a big difference between the Internet and the web. But here was a company in downtown Cleveland that was so far ahead of the curve they weren’t just sending email’s or mudding they were ready for the next big thing, Internet commerce. And I was interviewing with them.

A second interview was setup for meet the founder of the company. After several misses, apparently he was a busy man, we finally agreed on a time to meet.

Real Men go to any interview in a suit. This is one of the things you do, there is no arguing or deliberating this fact. So I suited up and went into my second interview to find myself sitting across a desk made of a door from a guy wearing jeans and a tee shirt.

I didn’t wear another suit to work for the next fifteen years.

The guy across the door from me turned out to be a technology visionary. He probed me a little bit about technology and the Internet but I had emailed and surfed enough at the time to convince him that I knew what was coming. We spent a longer time actually talking about computational linguistics which was a nice change of pace for me, not many people could keep up with me in that topic but he could see the potential future of computers interpreting human speech and we would discuss this many times as we worked together and software wrapped itself around the most intriguing problem that is the English language.

“So, do you want to work here?” he finally asked me.

“Absolutely,” I quickly replied.

“How much do you want to make?” he asked.

I must have had the same discussion with him ten times over then next fifteen years. Not whether or not I wanted to work for him, I was sold, this was the career for me; but how much I wanted to make at that particular point in my career.

Resigning from the law firm was easy. My supervisor was jealous of my new job.

I was late my first day but my first day was great. I quickly realized there were some really extraordinarily intelligent people working at this tiny company, trying to invent Internet commerce and make a buck off a book on the Internet.

We played the first iteration of LAN games at lunch, went out after work, went back to the office for LAN parties afterwards. They invented it all and I was there to ride along. They sold books on the Internet before there was a world wide web. A little shop in Cleveland opened open the first store on the Internet and sold books years before anyone else and I was there as witness.

These were heady times and I didn’t look back. The dot com boom came and we grew and grew. Out little company was bought by a bigger company which was bought by a bigger company and we all rode along. There is a group of really really smart people the I was so lucky to help move some of the the pieces along.

/////MOVING OFFICES ASS_WEB to WEBMASTER////

Somewhere along the line in the late nineties I was traveling to conventions on the east coast and west coast and money was flowing in and we expanded. But then there was a turn, and now we had a lot of competition and the web was becoming more and more common.

Investors were throwing money all over the place but we were well ahead of the curve. We had already been bought and paid for and we were about to be the precursor to the dot bomb.

/////GAMES @ WORK//////

We couldn’t keep up with the amount of money that Bezo’s was willing to lose and I knew the end was near. Our founder and the Webmistress had left the company which had bumped me up to Webmaster; second in command with an office next to the corner office of the President. Additionally we had hired and extremely inept Systems Administrator which meant I had to learn all of his job function as well. This was actually a blessing in disguise and suited me very well.

///////MOVING INTO AN OFFICE//////

/////FIRING VICTORIA//////

Systems Administration is exactly what I liked about computers my whole life only now it was job and had a name. I didn’t have to sit in front of a computer and write code for twelve hours a day. I had to manage mail servers, maintain backups, install service patches. I learned about phones and networks and Oracle and Exchange and knew I would never want to be a DBA or a coder but had found my path, the sys admin.

This career path was fortuitous because my place of employment was ending and we all pretty much knew it so I sent out a resume and had some bleak interviews at a local insurance companies. I’m pretty sure at one point while I was farmed around from manager to manager at the company one of them actually fell asleep asking me a question from the prepared script of questions.

My wife was pregnant at the time, we had just purchased our first house and I was set on finding some stability in a career no matter what. Even if it meant going to work for the insurance company.

So I was offered a job and accepted and then took the long walk down the hall one office over to the corner to talk to my boss and tell him the news. This was not fun,  my boss had become a very good friend of mine but the whole time I was telling him I was leaving he had this shit eating grin on his face. It was almost like he was glad I was telling him I had decided to jump off the side of the dying ship.

It turns out my suspicions were right in the first place and the company was being shut down in a number of months and I had forced his hand. I agreed to stay on to the end and the insurance company agreed to wait for me until everything was worked out.

////////THIS SHOULD BE DIALOGUE BETWEEN ME AND ADAM////////////

Closing down a company pretty much sucks, but you get to buy things at really good prices. Keep that under your hat. It sucks much less when you know exactly where you are going next.

So I checked out of the start up business and went mainstream at the insurance company.

I’m not sure of the exact timing but I’m pretty sure I can get two to three people to attest to the fact that I was worried near the end of my first week.

“I think I made a big mistake,” I believe is what I said exactly at the end of that week, quoting Seinfeld as usual after I had finally figured out how to hack around their network and get to our mutual online chat forum.

I was used to be in charge of all kinds of technology, networks, phones, emails, databases, backups, everything. Me, in charge of lots and lots of things. This is where I live and want to live. But I had landed myself in a job where it was us in charge of one thing. Instead of me managing all of these myriad technologies now it was a group of us in charge of one single technology and on top of that there was bureaucracies that prevented anything at all from getting done with any sense of speed.

We were in the age that an Internet year was a month, and a month at the insurance company was about a quarter of the amount of time that you needed to get a new server online. I was trying to work at the new Internet light speed while working at a company that was so huge that it took forever to get nothing done.

But it was close to home, they paid for my first son to be born, and I helped them through Y2K. I asked for all the assignments my Manager could give me. He told me I was one of his senior guys and I told him to give me everything he could. I was bored and uninterested in it all. There was no facet of the job and no place in the company that I could find solace.

Shortly after Y2K I knew I had to move. I thought I needed stability and a company that was around and would be around but I was completely wrong. I needed to be the big cog in a little wheel instead of the other way around.

Thankfully the founder of Book Stacks had started up another company and it was far enough along at this point that they needed a dedicated systems administrator. I interviewed and got the job.

I was back into the fold, back among some of the smartest people I would ever know. Back to the small company mentality, fixing phones in the morning, fishing wire through the ceiling in the afternoon, editing email white lists in the evening. Back downtown, back to a startup, I was home.

And we went through the cycle again. We were a little company, at times just hours away from shutting down, and we were consumed by a larger company.

I was told that we were being consumed by a larger software development company and that we would have to combine our network with theirs. Their corporate and network security experts came in to audit our systems early on in the game and I was stressed.

Thankfully they found our network to be as or more secure than their network and the transition of our systems to their systems should be easy.

Well before our purchase I had planned a vacation to a cabin in Virginia for the family. It turned out to be the worst possible week to be away from work but the cabin was booked and we were going.

I generally don’t really enjoy going on vacation and the work stress that was on top of this vacation made it one of the worst ever. We had a lovely cabin in Virginia and my wife got to meet a dear online friend and her family, plus I was finally close to my best friend but it was all over shadowed by work.

This was the week of serious planning for the borgification of our network into their network. All set security and physical changes that were going to happen were being planned out this week.

So inevitably every morning I would have to drive up to the highway because there was no cell phone coverage at the cabin to join a conference call to discuss such things.

And the most terrible of it all was not that I had to do this on my vacation, it was the fact that I was planning and facilitating these invaders to take over all of my job responsibilities and effectively take away 50% of my job and put it into their hands.

My father was a Federal Mediator, he went to work when Unions and Management could not get along and needed a third party to mediate the issues. He always said that he wanted to work himself out of job, meaning there would no longer be strife between labor and management.

I felt like I was working myself out of a job that week and it was in the good sense that my father spoke of.

Here is how we will migrate our website to be your website. Here is how we will convert our mail system to your mail system. I felt like a prisoner of war, sitting in my mini-van at the top of a hill in Virginia, planning for the invasion of impostors while my family played croquet in the back yard of the cabin waiting for me to return.

I feel sorry for my family because we were in a great spot and around great people but I feel like I was totally used and abused on that vacation. Some day we will go back to that cabin and do things right.

Although I traded away a large portion of technology that I was responsible for I made myself useful in the larger company and things turned out not to be that bad. Our division of the company was a very important one and there was still a large farm of servers that needed to be managed, even if they weren’t mission critical anymore.

Quality Assurance is where I officially found myself but as little fish get eaten by big fish even those fish get eaten up and it was only a year or so until we were once again getting eaten up.

We were all now a part of one of the biggest software companies in the world and we would all find out fates via email on some Friday. I sat in my office waiting for the email to slip in via a server I no longer had any control over. I sat looking west over the lake, sixteen floors up, in the building where I had worked for the past decade waiting for the email to arrive.

Finally it did and I read it quickly the first time and was happy. I was now and employee of one of the largest companies in America. But then I read it again and found the tone of the letter much darker this time and found the dreaded line which read something like: You will be employed for six months with the anticipated exit date of November 25th.

Anticipated exit date? This didn’t sit particularly well with me.

I’m not sure if I formally entertained everyone around the office with my displeasure officially, but everyone knew I was going to be moved and we were a pretty close knit group. Essentially, I was given six months to look for a new job with the blessings of my superiors which is an exceedingly rare situation. Normally one must run around the backs of one’s current bosses while pursuing and out, but this was not my case.

My direct report heard of a job and thought I might be suited for it. He sent me the job description and as I read it I felt like this was the job description I would have written for a job the I wanted to get. I quickly sent along my resume.

Time was a luxury I did have. I was in the rare space of knowing that my position was going to be eliminated and having six months to figure out what I wanted to do as the new regime swooped in and assimilated us.

///ANOTHER CLICK   LAWRENCE SCHOOL CONNECTIONS//////

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