Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Landing Safely
I can see that the key to landing in a parachute is careful planning. Pulling the strap at a good time will ensure that your chute has time to open, and you will come to the ground softly. Having your chute strapped on, and checking all the various loops and buckles is equally important.

So I was laid off. I'm not sure that my metaphor spelled that out entirely. Here, I will tell the whole story.

Moneday I came to work to sit in another Novell course. My employer (past employer that is) had been eager for me to teach new Novell courses involving SuSE Linux. I was obliged to do it, because I was not looking forward to weeks and weeks of teaching Windows XP and Server 2003 courses. After having passed a couple of exams I was offically blessed by Novell and ready to go. However, after teaching the first of three courses it was obvious that I had no stories to tell about production use of this product as it was entirely new stuff ... and nobody was using it yet. Because Novell had been filling the courses with students without much help from the training center, they decided to send out their own instructors to deliver the course. There haven't been many of these courses taught, and the trainers so far had been Novell veterans who had actually sat around and wrote the curriculum (which by the way, isn't very good).

After sitting in the second course as a student a few weeks ago, I could see that it wasn't the instructor that was a problem, it was the awful curriculum. In fact, the instructor that came out seemed to have less experience with Linux than I did, and made several mistakes in explaining material to the students (which they corrected him on). And so this past Monday was the third course to be taught, and it was delivered by yet a different instructor (another Novell veteran of 12 years). This guy had it together pretty well, but was obviously struggling with the lack of material.

Novell did something awful with these three courses that are supposed to flow together like buttah'. The first five day course could be taught in two days (but was five), the second course should have been more like 8 (but was five) and the third course seemed like another two day (but was five). At any rate, the first day was VERY slow, and seemed more like review of the first two courses (only lighter) even though this was supposed to be the most dificult. Blah. Halfway through the morning, my IQ hadn't been risen and all I was getting bored. So I decided to invest my time in studying for my CISSP. At some point in the afternoon, I saw one of my colleagues standing outside of the classroom waving me out. He looked a little nervous.

"About what time do you think class will finish today?", he asked.
"Probably around four I think".
"Okay", he said, "let's meet for a few minutes if we can".

Let me tell you something about Matt. He is completely opposed to meetings. He believes any metting that runs on more than half an hour is a waste of everyones time. He also believes that having a meeting, for the sake of having a meeting, is the worst business concept EVER. I tend to agree. So the fact that he was wanting to get together, and he was noticably shaken was a sign that I may not be back for class on Tuesday. When I returned to the classroom, I checked the clock. I thought, "if I start formatting my laptop's hard drive now, it will have passed at least one low level before I have to return it". But maybe I was being silly. I waited.

After class was finished I came to grab Matt. "I finished early", I said, "you have a few minutes?". To which he replied, "I'm not really ready yet, can you give me until four?". Now I was pretty sure of what was to come. At four o' clock I stepped into a conference room to meet with Matt, the "CIO" guy, and the HR woman. I dropped my notebook on the desk, smiled, and said "Well?". I knew what was coming. They knew I knew, and I think they were probably a bit more shaken by laying me off than I was.

It seems as if it had been raining for days. I mean DAY's. We actually had floods here in Ohio from the horrible cold rain and snow mixture. But Monday afternoon, I stepped out into the light and the sunshine about blinded me. With the sun on my shoulders, a box of my laptop bags contents, and my lunch container kicking along I waltzed to my car feeling like a freed prisoner. These past few weeks I have wondered how I might escape this company to do something different. How could I go work for myself, and not be sued under my non-compete contract with that prison? Laying me off was probably the greatest thing to happen to me in years. While I still have to abide by my non-compete contract, my previous employer has expressed their "understanding" in this matter. They would like for me to call them about work that I get, and clear it with them first. I understand. They don't want me competing with them in this area. That's fine mby me. I can travel!

Before I walked out the door I tried unsuccessfully to get my wife on the phone. So once I arrived to Best Buy to work my second job I got on the "Free Phone" inside. "Remember when I asked you how you would feel about me working for myself?" I asked he. "Yeah", she said, "I'll support it. Why?". "Well ... because from today forward, I work for myself!".

"You were fired?".
"Fired is a strong word. More like ... laid off".
"Are you serious?"
"Oh my God"
"Yeaaah ... but it's all good, right? I didn't like that job anyway".

Sounding a little broken spirited, she replied "we'll figure it out ... we always do". And then I went to work doing my usual Geek Squad stuff. Tomorrow will be a new day, I thought.

The following morning I hopped out of bed, dashed to the basement and got right to work on my resume and bio. In fact, I wouldn't finish it until late that night. But by Wednesday I was shooting it out like a madman to anyone that would take it. By Thursday I had made contact with two training brokers, and landed a job with (of all people) my OLD employer. Yeah, crazy isn't it?

I don't like to burn my bridges. In fact, I doused this bridge with water, and sprayed it down with a flame retarded coating. When I was laid off, I shook hands with the HR woman and CIO guy before slipping away with Matt. Matt and I were co-workers, but also good friends. Being appointed the "training manager" he had his first duty which was to lay me off. I felt really bad for the guy, becuase I could see that he didn't agree with the decision, and hell ... we were buds. He extended an offer of writing me a letter of recommendation, and I offered to send him my resume and keep in touch.

Just a day later, I was e-mailing everyone I had been working with on various projects to keep them moving. After all, these people knew me, and I do good work! I could probably get some return business with them rather easily. And I did. I have booked an A+ class on the 18th, and I will be getting paid contractor rates. Let me tell you friends, those rates are pretty respectable. If I work two weeks a month at what I will be making in a week from now, I will only have to work two weeks a month (and actually make a little more).

Sure there are downsides to this "working for yourself". Like, "paying your own taxes", and "coming up with insurance". My wife has all ready worked to find the same insurance I had with my previous employer for a little less cost. Amazing. I called my father (the CPA) who says "keep a quarter of every dollar in a savings account, and you will be fine".

It's all working out! Really! Now, I have to get back to work. Being unemployed is like ... a lot of work and stuff! More to come.

Current Mood: The Glass is Half Full!
Musical Inspiration: No Music! I might miss a phone call.

Historic Comments
Well I am gald to hear that things are looking up for you. I remember you from thebroken and a lot of guys still talk about you once and while over a computerhelpforum.org.

I don't have your nack for writting but reading your blog made me want to start my own. Thanks and again congrats on landing on your feet. Not a lot of people can do that after being laid off.
Bobo | Homepage | 04.05.05 - 12:12 pm | #

Now watch the beauty of the flaming plane crashing into the ground. Just remember to put money away for taxes. Taxes are hell.
Poe | 04.05.05 - 6:51 pm | #

This makes sense. If you flipped out when you got layed off then they might have presed charges if you set fire. It's like when somebody calls you an asshole and you say ok thanks your your input.
Bird603568 | 04.05.05 - 9:45 pm | #

Hey, I haven't been avoiding you about the webhosting stuff, but not to long ago I was laid off as well. So, lately i've been trying to setup a business, as well as lay the ground work for another. I apologize, my friend is being a dick about it... but i'll convince him!
Apex | Homepage | 04.05.05 - 10:15 pm | #

Hey dude - you completely skipped over the bit where the HR Girl and CIO give you the bad news! Come-on, give us the detail . . . jumping straight to a weather report at the crucial moment was insensitive.
Anonymous | 04.05.05 - 10:20 pm | #

Thats great Ray, now you can finally be happy with what your doing and make some money! At least your happy thats all that matters.
magikgrl | Homepage | 04.06.05 - 12:24 pm | #

Good to hear that things are going well for you Ray. Ol' Uncle Phrighty knew you'd pull out in time and deliver. Keep the faith brother and remember you come from a family of the best phreakers to have ever existed.

If anyone out there is ever looking for work do check out local Credit Unions and their IT department. Sure, the pay isnt top notch but I will tell you that you can NOT fuck with the benefits. They pay for themselves a million times over. Plus, Credit Unions never get bought out, they are just "acquired" so there is never a fear of losing your job due to a corporate merge/takeover.

Just my two cents. Kiss the wife for me.

- Uncle Phrighty - Credit Union Sys Admin
Uncle Phrighty | 04.07.05 - 3:49 pm | #

That is great news dude! I wish I could get laid off from my job too. I am glad to hear that you are a free man. Good luck!
Mogwai | Homepage | 04.08.05 - 2:33 pm | #

Good luck on your new business ventures.
JT | 04.08.05 - 9:37 pm | #

Er ... hello? Twenty three days since the last post. Way to treat your readers!
Anonymous | 04.28.05 - 1:44 am | #