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Triumphant Return

So, I was finally home for a few hours this weekend and I plugged us back into the internets, so TCB and Exploded Clown are back online.

Where have I been, you ask? What have I been doing? It’s a long story, but here it is.

I was in Dallas for most of last week, and then in Omaha, center of the universe, on Wednesday and Tuesday. No lost luggage this time, but I have better news.

On Wednesday, I got The Call. Unfortunately, I was on a plane from Chicago to Omaha (yeah, Dallas to Omaha via O’Hare; awesome), so I didn’t get the call until almost 8pm PST, so I couldn’t return The Call.

The next morning, I set out to find a Borders to find something to read. I made a wrong turn on the way there, crossed an innocuous-looking bridge and ended up in Iowa. I didn’t notice that I had crossed state lines (and thus breaking the agreement on my rental car, I believe) until I saw a map later that day; that’s how excitingly different Nebraska and Iowa are.

Once I grabbed a book (The Hero With a Thousand Faces; review forthcoming), I hopped back in the car and headed back to the hotel. A Taco Bell caught my eye (as they always do) and I pulled over to get a drink. Large Mountain Dew no ice in hand, I noticed that it was now late enough to call the west coast, and so I pulled out my cell phone to return The Call.

Answering Machine. Left a ‘call me back’ message.

Back to the hotel. Joe is still asleep, getting a few hours of rest in a foreign bed on the road because he never does in his own bed at home, because he’s always working. Joe, who I admire for his absolute dedication to his job, is exactly why I’m trying to escape this job: I could see myself doing what he’s doing, and giving up sleep and all other normality for the company. I don’t want to do that.

Ring Ring. The Call Returns.

I walk out into the hall to answer it. Mary-Lou on the other end informs me that the drug test and background test that I was subjected to went fine, and that ACS is now willing to offer me the position. I accept, confirm a start date of the 23rd, and hang up.

An aside about the 23rd. I got The Call on a Thursday, while I was on the road. I knew that my schedule had me in the office that Friday, out again Monday through Thursday of the next week, in the office for another Friday, and then on vacation for a whole week, and then back in to work on… the 23rd. So agreeing to this was agreeing that I would go to Parasoft two more times. It was a little bizarre.

Sonja gets the first Bragging Call. She rejoices with me.

My Mom gets the next Bragging Call. She starts off with chitchat despite the fact that I called her. My Mom does that. I wrest control of the conversation from her and let her know, and know full well that my entire family will know within the day.

I call Rudy, but there’s no answer.

And then I head back to the room and get ready for our First Data meeting, which is why we’re in Omaha to begin with. I offer to take Joe to the Chipotle that I saw on the way to Borders, which happens to be a block from where our meeting is.

At Chipotle, I tell Joe. He completely expected it. I was amazed; I had prepared for yelling and guilt. He says he doesn’t blame me at all, and even though I know that he’s a salesman through and through, I believe him.

We do First Data after a seemingly interminable wait. Joe offers to let me run with it, and hit one out of the park to end my ParaSoft run. And I do. I don’t think I’ve done a better presentation in my entire tenure here. The fact that I was talking in front of an audience of high-level executives with divisions of people under them didn’t occur to me until later, when we all went out for drinks. Yeah, it went pretty well.

I hop on a plane and head home. One of those tiny planes with no middle row (and only 19 people) from Omaha (with only 21 gates) to Phoenix, and then a half-empty 737 from Phoenix to John Wayne. And my car even started when I got there, courtesy of my new battery.

I burrow my way into the apartment, moving boxes to locate some new pants to wear on Friday, and off I go.

I go tell Brian, my unshakable English boss. Of all the people I’m telling, I expect him to be the one who expects it most, and who will take it best. I am apparently a horrible judge of such things; he doesn’t expect it at all, and it shows. I offer to stay after the 23rd if needed, and he says that it’s fine.

I call Adam, the CEO. He’s disappointed, but he takes it well. Again, a surprise, because I had expected more yelling at this point in the narrative. He actually tried to dissuade me from going. In fact, he even offered me my position back if I decided I didn’t like ACS. When I saw him today, he tried again to convince me to stay, and I told him I’d think about it.

I then started telling everyone else. The entire day ranks number two on my Surreal Days At Work Index, right after the Layoff at Miramar that I survived. On that occasion it was all you could do to focus on the task at hand; on this occasion I were sprouting new tasks-at-hand every moment, when I realized that I wouldn’t be around to handle things that people were asking for. Bizarre.

But seeing Adam today sowed some seeds of doubt in my mind. He has a few good points; Parasoft is a great experience-getter. I see huge company’s development processes, and I get to work with great tools and great people, and I get to play with lots of interesting technologies.

But I don’t get to own anything. I don’t get to have my project. I don’t get to understand a product inside and out; I don’t get to intuit solutions when something breaks. I don’t get to inhabit the development process, to suck out the marrow of it; I only have a passing relationship where Development and I see each other at the grocery market and fumble around for new things to talk about. And I’m tired of that. I need to get down to it; I need to break out of Sales and move back in where I belong. And I’m going to go do that at ACS.