I work for a software company, testing their software. The fact that I am still employed, while they have shrunk from 16,000 employees to about 300, is no small miracle. It is probably, mostly, a result of having some good friends in the company, who have helped me out in a pinch on so many occasions. I won’t mention their names, even their first names, for now. But I know who they are, and know that I am lucky to know them.
When I first took this job in 1997, I had found my dream job. Ok, perhaps my dreams are meager, but still. I was hired to be a trainer on a product I had never seen before. They just needed people who knew their way around large computer software; didn’t mind traveling; and didn’t mind delivering standup training to a roomful of people they had never met, every week.
My motive for seeking and accepting the job was that my wife and I had decided to move back closer to where the rest of our family was, and the reasoning was that if I was in a traveling job, it didn’t matter where I lived, or when I left there, as long as I had access to internet, phone, and an airport. One year after taking the job, we actually moved. The kids tolerated it; what other choice do kids have? (Sorry, R and J.)
It was probably a good move for my daughter; she needed a social reset, after having endured hell in middle school. But I still feel mixed emotions about doing that to our son. He’s an amazing person, a far better person than I will ever, ever be. But he had lived in the one house for his 11 years, and had always gone to the neighborhood school, and seemed to really like our life in Texas.
Our daughter has the toughness that is only imparted by walking through the fire. And regardless of the friction that we lived through, she is, to some extent, my kindred spirit. We always understand what the other is thinking. We share the same sense of humor.
My wife and I had a Move Planning Meeting , and dinner at Vincent’s Restaurant in suburban Dallas, in May of 1997. We were plotting our move back east, decided it would be in one year; and I figured I needed to start a job search immediately, thinking it would take me some months to find the right job. Shows what I know. Within 10 days I had not only found it, but been technically screened and offered a job.
Which brings me back to the job: delivering training, a lot of talking, a lot of travel. It pissed off my old boss considerably; not so much because I left, but because she had been pushing me to express and project myself, but I hadn’t been able to accomplish it. After I took the new job, I had no choice: 9:00, Monday morning, 15 people I have never met before, and I have to talk to them. It’s like a crash membership in Toastmasters, and it’s one of the best things I ever did. I was almost like Rain Man about public speaking, up until then.
After we moved to NJ, my travel actually intensified. More time at corporate.
But it came at a price. Yes, there were weeks when I would be at home, my time basically unstructured, and I could attend my son’s baseball games and at least socialize with my daughter. But there were many weeks when I would have to travel. I’d try to schedule my return trips on Thursday or Friday so that I could get back home to see the games or whatever was happening. That was often thwarted by crappy weather, causing flight delays. Those delays pissed me off profoundly.
My wife was tolerating all of this without complaint. She was having having to deal with friction with the children, temporary housing (more about that in another post), and not having someone there to share the burden, or even talk with.
Life went on. When I would come home on Thursday or Friday night, we would always go to a local diner/bar, and catch up on the week. I still miss that place. Then, usually, we would stop by to see her parents, whom I miss as much as I miss my own. Loved them both. Life wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t the same as it had been in our prior home.