Working Two Jobs
You know it is funny. Working in IT, I was earning a pretty good wage, but four teenaged daughters can be expensive! At the same time that I was doing the IT gigs, I was also resurrecting Anderson’s Music as a home based business. Mostly, I did work for other music stores, but I also had a few customers who came to the house. I actually had more business as a home based business than I did when I had the full service shop. As the business became more successful, it began taking over my life. Jeanie handled the pickups and deliveries to schools. Kat helped disassemble and reassemble instruments, but I was the technician, and I was tired. The business didn’t produce enough money by itself to support us, but it was producing more work than I could keep up with.
In 1998, I went on an IT business trip to Charlotte, NC for a PowerBuilder programmers convention (a real geek-fest). There were a few vendors in the hall giving away information (along with the silly squeeze toys that we really wanted) and settled amongst these vendors was a conservatively decorated booth sponsored by by First Union National Bank. I wandered over to the First Union booth and inauspiciously asked the lady behind the table, “Why does a bank have a booth at a Nerd Convention?” Yes, I really did ask that! She replied that they were recruiting for PowerBuilder programmers. While I thought the idea was interesting, I wasn’t actively in the job market, so I stayed long enough to hear her pitch and then politely excused myself for the next presentation.
During the presentation, I couldn’t stop thinking about her description of the job. It sounded really good to me. It would pay as much as I was making with both jobs in Charleston! Like I said, I was tired and the thought of having some free time sounded too good to be true. I went back to the table and got some information to take home. Over the next couple of months we worked out the details. One beautiful spring day, I walked out of the SPA office and down the sidewalk. I wondered to myself if I had lost my mind. I was leaving this location and a job where I had an office with a door to go to work in cubicleville. However, the prospect of making enough money to support my familiy with only one job was singing very loudly and clearly to me. I resigned from the State Ports Authority (SPA) and made plans to move to Charlotte.
Move to Charlotte & First Union
When I took the job at First Union, our oldest daughter had only one year to go in high school, so we agreed to let her finish there. During that year, I would stay in Charlotte during the week and come home to Charleston every weekend for the first year. Even with that concession, the decision was far from a family concensus. Jeanie and I were not winning any popularity contests. The thought of moving was much harder for the girls than I imagined it would be. They were upset that we were taking them away from their friends. The younger ones weren’t as upset, but saw it more as an adventure. (I’ll let them comment with the details that they really felt).
It was a particularly difficult year for the girls and I hated placing so much of the burden on Jeanie. We had some real crises to deal with and I spent a lot of my evenings talking on a pay phone with Jeanie. We didn’t have cell phones and I didn’t have a phone in my apartment. In June of 1999 the family joined me in Charlotte where we still live in the same house.
I will have been with the bank for ten years in May, 2008. This is the longest I have ever been with a single company. During that time, First Union merged with Wachovia and took its name. I have changed roles a little over the years and I do not do as much programming. However, I still support the programs and frameworks that I helped write when I first joined the bank. The way technology changes, it is remarkable that they are still around at all. The life expectancy of a computer program is not very long, if it even makes it into production. I am proud to say that one of the programs that I helped write has been in production (with hundreds of users each day) for over five years… unchanged! It has passed audits and reviews that were not even in existence at the time it was written.
Writing these posts about my job history has been cathartic for me. I expected it to just be fun to recall some silliness and some thoughts and feelings about my jobs. I didn’t expect to feel some of those feelings as deeply as I did. There were so many more stories than the ones I told. (I think I got all the jobs though). I tried to stick to the ones that were more important to defining who I am today. My jobs don’t define me, but the things that happen at my jobs (and everywhere else) are part of my journey.
I have received a few encouraging posts, emails and phone calls along the way and I want you to know how much I appreciate them. Hearing that my words matter helps keep me writing. Who knows what topic will be next?
Workin’ for the Man Series