I’ve been in a bubble of secrecy for a while. A long while. The company that moved me to Tampaland was bought by a bigger company. We were acquired. My position in the new company was uncertain. My (lucrative) Tech Writer position at the old company was always a bit odd. I was the only Tech Writer in a company of 3000 people spread over 40 states. My job title wasn’t anything close to “Tech Writer.” They just found the job title that scaled closest to what they wanted to pay me and gave me that title: Project Manager IV. Uhm. Okay. Whatever. The man who hired me at the old job had no idea what to do with me. He knew that writing was not his strength, so he placed an ad for a Writer, assuming that I’d spackle all the gaps where his workload was suffering. Together we kind of made it up as we went along. It was sometimes rewarding but always odd. I wasn’t never certain where I fit into the larger enterprise. There was no career path. No next step. If my boss ever left the company, I wasn’t sure what my role would be for a new boss.
And then, with an eight month countdown timer provided by the FCC (as it was technically a telecom “merger” that had to be approved by the gubment), I found myself counting down to that proverbial new boss.
There was a chance I’d be beamed into the mothership by our new corporate overlords. There was also a good chance I’d have to drive to Orlando every day (2.5 hours each way) to the closest office of the new corporate overlords.
I got several offers from local companies for Tech Writer jobs, but the pay cut was just too brutal. I was spoiled. Finally an offer crossed my desk where the work interested me and wasn’t too much of a salary snub.
The weird part is this: Old job did not want to let me go. They kept me on for almost nine weeks as a consultant. That’s nine weeks of double pay! Whoo-HOO! The strange working arrangements lead me to keep radio silence for a long time. I did not want my dual agency to be misunderstood by either employer, and one can never be certain who reads this blog.
It was a good ride while it lasted. God bless double paychecks. The extra cash really helped feather the nest upon which we are scheduled to close in a couple weeks.
We sold almost all our Earthly possessions when we moved to Florida. I don’t want to understate that. I mean, we sold damn near EVERYTHING. Every stick of furniture. We don’t have a microwave. We don’t have a toaster. One of The World’s Greatest Mother-in-Law’s Florida friends loaned us a toaster oven. We have dishes somewhere, but they are in a storage locker. I sold off almost all of my clothes (90% of which no longer fit or had not been worn in the last 15 years). It was symbolic: Leave the past behind. Start over together.
And so we did. And so we have.
I bought an entire wardrobe of tropical shirts. Fuck it. Why not? They are cheap, comfortable, and Fatboy doesn’t have to tuck ’em in! All I wear now are tropical shirts. Because Florida.
After living seven months of a very Spartan apartment lifestyle (knowing anything we bought is just something else we’d have to pack when we moved again) the missus and I have shifted into Acquire Mode; weekends spent power-shopping for furniture and furnishings. Buying lots of stuff and leaving it behind at the various stores to be delivered once we have the keys to the new house. Crock pots. Knife blocks. Dining room tables. Acquire. Bar stools. Lamps. Acquire. Couches. Sofa tables. Acquire. Acquire. Acquire. Fill that new house with shiny new Acquire, Ese!
Sigh. The new house.. The new house is small. Suh. Mall. That was the plan we hatched when we moved out of our four bedroom ranch with a giant basement back in St. Louis. Downsize! That’s what we did. Small house. Small yard I can probably mow in 12 minutes or less. There are no basements here in Florida, of course. Your garage is your basement, and our new garage isn’t very big. Some nagging evil angel inside my head kept urging my ego to buy as much house as we could afford. Something spectacular. We were tempted. But nah. Downsize. Double down on our retirement dreams and retirement savings. Maybe buy a boat.
My new company is okay. My office is nice. My fellow employees are friendly. My boss travels 80% of the time. Deadlines are reasonable. Ninety minutes have dropped off my daily commute (at least for the moment; before we move to the new house development out in cow country.) I like the job. My issue with this job is completely within my own head: It’s virtually identical to my very first job. Same manufacturing environment. Same rookie mistakes playing out in Operations as business starts to take off and revenue outstrips managerial oversight. Same communication disconnect between the guys in the offices who design the product and the guys out in the hot, unairconditioned plant who build it. Same uncomfortable détente where the guys in Engineering don’t want to come down too hard or too aggressive with the guys out in the plant, so nobody is assuming any responsibility for any ongoing problems. One of my responsibilities is making training videos, which I have not done in 27 years, but I’m still having PTSD flashbacks to the old days when my camera weighed 80 pounds more and my editing studio of specialty equipment cost $30K more than the downloaded software I use now.
It’s déjà vu. My brain tells me I’ve somehow moved backwards in my career. But that’s not true. Yngwie Malmsteen still has to play Stairway to Heaven every once in a while. It’s what he does. 30 year career nurses still have to stick hypodermic needles into asses. It’s what they do. I have to crank out repair and programming manuals. It’s what I do. Five years of writing policies, RFPs, and industry whitepapers for Congress left me thinking that I was somehow more than just a Tech Writer.
“Insert Part A into Slot B at a 45° angle.” Rinse. Repeat. Cash check. Be happy. STFU. Acquire.