Saturday, June 18, 2005

Retrospectives - pre Nevada

First in a Series.

July, 1988

I was working in an engineering firm in Boston, which later moved to Kendall Square in Cambridge when we endured yet another corporate/departmental reorganization that i was not happy with. My then boss had quit, only to return two weeks later with a complete personality transplant. Up to then, I had enjoyed my job and endured enough office bullshit to qualify for combat pay.

Being a 'bommerang', ie, someone who leaves the firm only to return at a higher position was quite common in my company at the time. Having been there a few years, I had witnessed it on a number of occasions. The office politics (pollution) was so thick you cut it with a knife. The bullshit gradually made it down to my level and when Trevor quit and came back again it was like having a guy I liked to work with and for morph into Linda Blair, complete with rotating head and vomit.

Now I became the scapegoat for all that was wrong with the world and I found myself behind the eight ball in a variety of situations, but while I was being condemned and I was also being told how valuable I was. Its not a good idea to can someone if you have value to you even if your ultimate goal is to get rid of them eventually. But I was naive and I thought that showing up and doing a good job was what one had to do to get ahead. Despite everything, I really enjoyed my job and the people I worked with, so what was going on was a life changing event.

In the summer of 1988, the economy in Boston was going gangbusters and I could have written my own ticket. I was constantly getting calls from recruiters and companies who wanted me to jump ship and work for them, but I was complacent and comfortable. But with all the crap going on a put on a suit jacket one day went to work with it and started looking for another job. My boss saw me with the jacket on and asked me what I was up to. I told him I was looking for another job. "Where?" I pointed out the window and said "Out there".

I went for the first interview during lunch on a Wednesday. It went well enough that I was asked back for a second interview on Thursday at lunch. I interviewed at one of world's most renowned hospitals and I was 'gang interviewed' by a bunch of doctors. My potential boss to be said to me, "You know, you're underpaid" as if I didn't know that. I was offered the job as a systems manager by Friday at lunchtime.

By then rumors were flying that I might jump ship. I made an emotional decision and not a practical decision to stay based on the written agreement that I would take on additional resposibilities and a boost in pay. I really wanted to stay because i would have missed my friends, which is a stupid reason, especially since I was only one subway stop away from them at the time. My bosses previous to this kept on giving me the line that they were going to hire 'consultants' that would reorganize people's responsibilities, job titles and pay. Of course this meant a tax break for the company since they would write off the cost. I said to them, "Just go to any decent emplyment agency and they'll tell you what I'm worth on the open market, so why should I wait 6 years for you to do the obvious?". It would LITERALLY take 6 years (after I was long gone) for them to do this, but bosses got nice raises and bonuses every year. See how little has changed?

Another side agreement would be that I get sent to an Intergraph Users Group (IGUG) in Las Vegas. Since Vegas was on the list of cities I had yet to visit and was looking forward to it, I took the bait and stayed. I do have regrets about turning down the hospital job, but we can't turn ack the clock, although I always wondered in which direction my life and career would have taken if I had gone the other way.

After accepting the counteroffer, I went down to Mass. General, spoke to the guy who offered me the job and told him the situation. It was never my intention of using it as leverage to a promotion ot raise as the assholes in my old company often did. I felt I owed the guy a thanks, an explanation, and a face to face man to man talk. He appreciated my coming down and although he was disappointed, I think he respected me for doing that in that way, rather than just calling him on the phone and saying 'Never Mind'.

Next Stop - Las Vegas


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