Sunday, February 25, 2007

Happy Trails
I finally got that job offer. It wasn't as high as I was hoping for, but it was only about 5,000 less than my target. I accepted, and with that we went to work on the final stages of the hiring process. The first of which - was to talk to my current boss. I was not looking forward to this part. I still needed to sit down and talk to the guy myself. He was completely in the dark about what had been transpiring. It was Friday afternoon, and perhaps late on a Friday would be as good a time as any to break the news to him. But alas, he would be in meetings all afternoon, right up until 6:00PM when I was leaving what would be my last 7:30AM to 6:00PM shift (don't ask).

Monday morning I waited for the boss to come in and get settled in. Moments later, I attacked. I walked in, and shut the door. "You know it's important when I shut your door", I said. He was all ears. I gave it to him in one sitting. "I have been made an offer ... one that I don't think I can refuse". I went on to tell him a little about the position, and why I was taking it. "How much did they offer you?". I told him it was roughly 10,000 more than I make now. He nodded, and that was about it. No counter offers, no trying to talk me out of it. He was all right with my leaving. I told him "I don't want you to think I am leaving out of here because of you all, I'm just doing whats right for my family ... and my career". That wasn't entirely true. I have about had my fill with the boss on a couple issues, one of which is how he deals with our complaints about after hours support (for which we are not compensated), our suggestions on new business, and process in general. He just ignores us.

I will not miss my work, or my boss. But I will surely miss the guys I work with. I worry that they will be under-staffed for a long time coming. Even when they get someone hired, they will have to spend weeks training that person to bring them up to speed (like they did me). But I didn't have a start date yet. Perhaps I could give them some fair warning. In the mean time, I had some work to do to get hired.

On my first of two required visits to the hospital, I met with a nurse. She put on a pair of thick glasses, and pulled out a clipboard. It was a questionnaire of sorts that started with "when was your last tetanus shot"? Uh oh. I wasn't really sure. Wrong answer. "Have you ever been tested for TB"? I had, but it was at least 5 years ago. Wrong answer. "Have you ever been vaccinated against Hepatitis B"? I didn't even know there was a vaccination for that. I'm not very fond of needles, but I could see that I would be getting quite a few of them shoved into me in the very near future. Sure enough, I was given a video to watch while the nurse went off the get my shots ready. I got to learn about how to deal with spilled body fluids, and how to properly wear a respirator mask. When she returned, there was a tray of needles. We got right to work. Ouch.

When I was done there I was sent to the lab for some "blood work". This is the part I really hate, having a needle pushed into my arm and held there while I am bled out. I guess it's a phobia. I have always feared having needles put into my skin. But I tried to calm myself, I didn't look, and it was over pretty quickly. Two days later, I was back. This time I was given a true physical. I had to stand in awkward places, have a doctor punch me in the kidneys, and do the old "turn your head and cough" thing. And then I was given the golden ticket, a "right to hire" signed by the staff. With this I was able to go to human resources and get my paperwork together. And following that activity, I was sent to the IT director to get my start date established.

She was rather quick with me, as I could see she was pretty busy that day. "When would you like to start? Do you have to give notice?". Technically, I don't. My contract is a "work at will" deal, where I can quit (or they can fire me) any old time. "I would like to give two weeks, but I'm not really required to". "One week", she says, "you will start on the 5th, yes?". I agreed. And that was that.

I took the news back to "the men", and I could see that they were both happy for me and disappointed all at the same time. They are far too kind to give me crap for leaving. They know why I'm leaving, and they want to see me succeed somewhere else. It makes it that much harder to depart. They will be missed.

Tomorrow I will start what will be my last week with the old crew. I have about 30 service tickets that I need to have cleaned up and completed by Friday, or I will have to hand them off to someone else. Throughout the week I will need to take down my pictures, ditch some old paperwork, and just wrap things up. Next week, I will get to start a new job. New faces, new challenges, greater opportunities.

Pa Passes On
Last week I had been talking to my mother about my grandpa. He was in lousy shape, and she wanted me to know that he may be on his way out. He's had Alzheimer's for several years now, and his condition went from mediocre to just plain awful in a short period of weeks. She told me that she thought I should be prepared for bad news, but that I probably wouldn't be interested in any final visits. Partly because his mental state was pretty bad, and also because he wouldn't know who I was. A few days ago I got the call from her. Pa had passed away.

I didn't spend a lot of time with my grandpa. I barely knew the guy. For that matter, I have never known any of my grandparents all that well. But I had a strange bond with my grandfather. People were always telling me that I looked like him. Namely my mother. She brought me a photo one time of him when he was young, and had just enlisted in the Navy and it was frighteningly like my high school senior pictures. It was clear that I had been practically cloned from his DNA. We had many common traits. Pa was a gentle, caring guy. Never one to start fights, or create static. He loved carpentry, and would spend countless hours in his shop building various things. For many years he built clipper holders from plexi-glass for barber shops around the United States. This was a process he had perfected over the years using an assortment of hand crafted templates, heating devices, and glues.

It was a shame to hear that he had passed. I knew this would be hard on my mother. Yet, it was relieving for the family. Pa had simply gone to sleep one night, and didn't wake up. It was a quiet and peaceful ending to what could have been a bitter battle with life.

Saturday was his funeral. We were asked not to dress us, although I couldn't resist wearing a suit. It was a respect thing. Pa had asked that he buried in a collared shirt, no tie and with a sweater if it was cold. It was a Catholic service. Those are always awkward for me, not being a Catholic myself. There are all sorts of readings and scriptures which are supposed to illicit a crowd reaction such as "and God be with you". I just tried to keep my head down, and nod when appropriate. I wasn't the only non-Catholic in the house. A good part of my family is atheist, and Pa had some good Jewish friends too (one of which stepped up and read scripture at the service).

They had some pictures of of my grandfather from various stages of life. Everyone kept looking at the photos of him in his thirties and then looking back at me as if they had just seen a ghost. When the service was over, I came over to hug my mother. She said that she will always remember her father when she looks at me. She told me that Pa gave me some of his best traits. For that I am greatful.

I wish I could have known the man better. Perhaps everyone felt the same way. At his funeral, they kept referring to his life as a "mystery" which was a little weird. I hope when I die, they won't consider my life a mystery. But then, they will have years of obscure Blog posts to refer back to.

Historic Comments
Grats about the new job, and sorry to hear about your 'pa
apex81 | Homepage | 02.26.07 - 5:15 pm | #

Hey hey dude,

Long time no read! Still up to no good I see!
Im living in the UK now, so I just wanted to let you know that when you eventually post that T-Shirt you should send it to Bristol not Johannesburg hehe.

Hows things? Im sure the last time we spoke you had been making babies?

Mike "Rattor" H | 09.30.07 - 7:33 am | #

Where'd he go?
eco | 12.30.07 - 8:55 pm | #

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