So long, and thanks for all the fish
In May of 1998 I was laid-off. It’s the one and only time in my life that has happened, but it did, and I expected it. I was working in the semiconductor industry and lay-offs happened on an 18 month cycle. I was fortunate at the time to have very few bills, outrageously low rent and was able to survive quite nicely on my unemployment benefits and my severance. By the end of July I was bored – bored, bored, bored; and my unemployment was close to running out. It was time to find the next job, so I started the job hunt in earnest instead of just applying for the required 3 jobs a week and spending the remainder of my time reading in coffee shops, playing around on my favorite BBS, and drinking beer with friends over a game of billiards. At the time I had a friend that had been working for this jewelry company in town – they were a mail order place, with a call center and warehouse and they were always hiring… He liked it, but was moving on to something else, and strongly suggested I apply. Worst case they paid decently for the area and had amazing benefits, and the CEO wished every single employee a good morning, every single day.
Needless to say I applied for a call center position – I had done call center work before, and the pay was okay – not as much as I had been making in the fab, but certainly more than unemployment and at this point I needed to get back to work.
After the strangest pre-employement assessments and interview process I had ever been involved in I eventually got a call that they wanted me to start at the end of August.
On August 24, 1998 I started my next job in my short history of jobs as an adult. I really thought it was just a job – something with decent hours, a set schedule, low stress – I mean, even the most upset customer had to admit that no one ever died from a jewelery emergency! Looking back now, I couldn’t have been more wrong about the path I was taking that late summer day.
I did a very short tenure in the call center, and was pushed by my business coach to apply for an open position with the Information Systems Operations team. I’ve written about that before, so won’t rehash it again here. I will say that if it hadn’t been for that one single push, my life would be very different today, and I can’t thank my coach enough for it.
Today – after 14 years and a handful of months I am turning in my keys to that building, and I am pulling out of the parking lot for the last time, and I’m likely shedding a tear or twelve while I do it.
I’ve turned over the systems I’ve managed and supported for the last decade, I’ve dumped as much historical and technical knowledge as humanly possible to my teammates, and said my good byes.
While I was technically an adult when I started my tenure at Rio Grande, I can honestly say that I grew up inside those walls. I learned that I can stand up for myself in the face of sexism, I learned that I can excel at any damn thing I put my mind to, and I learned that I am the only thing standing in the way of my happiness and success. I have struggled to live a principled life – sometimes succeeding, and sometimes falling flat on my face. I learned what it means to be really, truly, on the hook for keeping the system that runs the business up and running. I learned how to give and receive feed back in a positive manner regardless of the content of what is said. I learned how to have fun while working harder than I’d worked before. I learned how to trust that everyone had the same goal in their sights. I learned how to admit that I don’t know an answer, but would be happy to find it. I learned how to crimp CAT5 very late one night in Tuscon AZ because of Rio. I learned that I can – if needed spend 5 straight days at work to fix a critical problem. I learned that I enjoy making things work, and making them work better than they did before. I learned that no matter what I know now, there is always something more to learn. I found my community with #SQLFAMILY I learned who I was and who I don’t want to be inside those walls.
I made more friends than I can count while working at Rio – some of those friendships fleeting, and others are life long, and I can only hope that I will work with the same caliber of people again in my life.
So, why leave? Because all good things must end and it’s time I took my career into my own hands. ExactTarget offers me experiance that I can’t get anywhere else. I will be joining Eddie Wuerch and the rest of his highly intelligent, super cool DB Performance team on Monday to learn the ropes of high volume, high demand performance tuning. ET’s set of 8 principles mesh well with the principles I’ve worked under previously, and the work excites me in a way that I can only compare with the high I get when I get together with my #SQLFAMILY. It’s time for a challenge, and ET offered me that & the icing on the cake is that I don’t have to relocate to get it.
Now, almost 15 years later, I find myself unemployed. For the first time in more than a decade I’m not on the hook for a production system, and I’m only carrying a single cell phone. At least this time it’s only 48 hours or so before the next chapter starts at ExactTarget. I sure hope they are ready – ET has big shoes to fill after Rio!