North by Southwest
The flight(s) up were catastrophic in a lot of ways.
The first one was hours late. Then, the pilot decides to head north to get out of the way of some weather – adding another entire hour to the flight. Then, after running through the airport like a fucking marine, bag over my head, knocking two people down on the people-mover (yes, I really did), and almost getting arrested for breezing through a checkpoint, Southwest decides it suddenly reveres punctuality – my flight left three minutes ago.
To my displeasure, the guy at the counter, he was an optimist. To his displeasure, I wanted nothing more than to destroy an optimist right then.
My next flight was also delayed a bit more. Finally, I made it in with enough time to say “hi”, undress, have mind-blowing sex with H, and go to sleep.
I wake up, dress, and get shuttled over to the building for my interview. It feels like old times, S at the wheel, me cracking jokes in the passenger seat. That nostalgia ends when I get dropped off at the building, when I realize that I’m actually in Austin, actually about to interview for a job in the IT field, with a company who’s entire purpose is the IT field, filled with employees who’ve focused solely on the IT world to make money.
I feel very, very out of place all of a sudden.
Luckily, I don’t have to talk much for the first part of it. I don’t actually talk at all for the first half hour. I meet with the VP, and he tells me all about the company and shows me the product they’ve built. I sit there and let the palms of my hands sweat. The intro talk goes for so long, I’m honestly not nervous any more at the end of it. I’m actually sort of impatient and bored – it’s early, I didn’t get enough sleep, and I’ve just been informed that I’ll definitely be here by 11:30, when they take me to lunch.
After I talk to three more guys and get thrown in the Pit, that is.
Yeah. That’s right. The Pit.
Weird as it is, I perked up a lot at the mention of the Pit. It was what I was looking forward to while sitting and talking to the other three dudes, all of which asked me pretty much the same things. The first guy, who currently hold the only position in the department I’d be working in, I really liked. I don’t dislike the others, but I seem to be able to talk to the first one more easily. (I still know what his name is, if anyone can believe that.) The questions and people go on for hours. I sit in a room, they shuffle in and out, looking at my resume, asking me stuff.
Finally, the Pit.
I am led to a room in the corner. There are four people here, in different corners of the room. They set me up a chair in the middle and against one of the walls. They are the geeks – the developers and QA of the actual product itself. I know this crowd. This is the sort that all go back aways, and speak with each other without words. The sort that we used to be at the R&D department of EBI.
One of them pipes up with “Please, have a seat. By the way, do you konw what the air-speed velocity of an unladen…”
I cut him off, instinctually, with a rapid fire “African or European swallow?”
I do this before I realize what it is I’m actually saying.
Everybody laughs, I can see that “Oh, really?” look in the pitkeepers’ eyes, and they all swivel the chairs completely around to face me.
In my opinion, we actually got along more or less fabulously in the ol’ Pit. I’m sure I didn’t answer some things to their specs, just like I’m sure they just threw shit at me to figure less about what I knew, and more about how I’d respond to that which I didn’t know. It just felt good in that room, and at the end, I got to ask one of the devs how Quake 4 was.
Lunch was more or less uneventful, and less formal. There were a few Q’s thrown at me to make it seem like I was still under the microscope, but mostly they just wanted to know what the whole hurricane business was like. I indulge everyone with many stories, and they hang on my every word. I forget I’m interviewing, at points, which I probably shouldn’t've, but fuck it. They pretty much had an idea of whether or not I’m what they wanted, at that point.
After lunch, they took me up to the building, figured out that the guy who was supposed to do the closing bit was busy, so I got shown right back out where I stood and waited for my ride.
I was upset and depressed from here on out – it was closing in on two o’clock, meaning I had time to smoke two cigs, pack my shit, and get back on a (late) plane. I want to hug H, and tell her everything’ll be okay, but I’m not really around long enough. I was way less stressed – the work was over, and I’m not sure what the outcome would be, and more than a little intimidated by the job itself. I held her on the way home, I got to the Park’N'Ride, drove to Houma alone, and went to bed without dinner.
The Keg of Glory
I work mindlessly most of today. I field a couple more interview calls. I am thinking about what I want, and if yesterday was even fruitful. People call and ask me how things went, and I answer, honestly, with an “I don’t know”.
Then I get a call. Its the VP. He’s makes me an offer. We get around to money, and he throws a figure at me. A big figure. Bigger than I’ve ever made. Significantly.
Up until this point, I had been spending countless hours on the phone with TG, and he’s a Genius when it comes to this stuff. Yes, with the capitol “G”. He outlined exactly how this would all go, blow by fucking blow, and so far everything was a carbon-copy of what he said it’d be – even in the correct order. To that end, I had something of a “script” to go by – and a very intricate and detailed script when it came to the monetary argument.
So, while holding my breath and hoping to $diety that TG is as right about this as he has been about everything else so far, I follow the script to a “T”.
I stonewall the guy.
That’s right. I said nothing for about twenty of the longest seconds that exist. After which, I reply with the next heavily scripted answer: “I think I might be able to make that work.”
To my absolute fucking amazement, he begins talking. It’s like I turned on a faucet. He’s talking to me – I think – but he’s also very much alone in this conversation. He raises the figure no less than three times while I just stay on the line, saying nothing. (I’m silent because I actually can’t really breathe, but in retrospect, I think he was under the impression that I was still haggling.)
We get to a point where I’m at a hell of a “bump”, as it was called, and decide I don’t want to push my luck. I tell him I’d like time to think it over for a few days. I did this to try and give myself some time to hit that other interview I’ve got scheduled, but now that I think on it, it must have appeared to be another haggling technique. I didn’t think about that ’till later, so I’m surprised as he tells me he’ll see if he can’t squeeze “a couple thousand more” out of HR when he sends me the official offer letter.
I went to lunch immediately after. Which was good, because I can’t go back to work if I can’t breathe. I had all the symptoms of being kicked in the balls: the lack of breath, the dull ache in the pit of the stomach, the clammy hands and lack of blood to the face, and the near inability to remain standing.
Which leads me to now.
I’ve just quit my job, and the very next thing I will do once this hits the webwaves is print out that letter, sign it, and fax it in. The VP already knows its on its way. $Boss already knows I’m out, and I’m writing exit and future strategies right now.
I stand at the edge of something incredible, drinking from the Keg of Glory, and seeing an end to my Exile.
And it kind of feels really, really fucking awesome.