The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

March 1, 2012

When You See a Fork in the Road, Take It

Filed under: Random Stuff — Brian Lutz @ 11:31 pm

When I lost my job back around the middle of January, I was admittedly a little bit disappointed.  Not so much about the fact that I suddenly found myself to be unemployed, but because I was really enjoying the project that I had been working on at the time, and the end of my employment at Motricity meant that I wouldn’t get to see it through to completion.  Well, that and the fact that in all likelihood I would be losing my easy three-block walk of a commute, but that was just gravy.  Over a career that had consisted mostly of contracts at Microsoft prior to this, I have had all sorts of various experiences with being shown the proverbial door with little to no warning.  That said, I’d have to say that the process was handled about as well as could be expected given the circumstances (I was far from being the only person in the office making an unscheduled departure at the time,) and when all is said and done, I really don’t have anything to complain about.  The time I spent there definitely had its ups and downs, and it’s unfortunate that the ever-popular “Circumstances Beyond Our Control” happened to conspire to bring this to a not completely expected close, but this was definitely a good opportunity while it lasted.  I got to work with good people, the benefits and vacation time were nice, the projects were interesting, and all in all I consider the time I spent at Motricity to be a very positive experience.  But as with quite a few other things in life, it was time to move on, whether I intended to or not.

Fortunately, years of Microsoft contracts with the tendency to end either expectedly or unexpectedly have taught me well to save up for a rainy day and generally avoid going overboard on spending money, so fortunately when these particular circumstances came around, I was well prepared for them, which left me (somewhat unusually) in the position of not really needing to be in any particular hurry to get back to work at the time.  On top of that, I also happened to have a nice little vacation scheduled (and most importantly, completely paid for) just a bit more than two weeks later (I still have a Blog post or two I need to get out from that trip,) which is always a nice thing to have regardless of the circumstances.  It was definitely a nice trip, although it wasn’t without its share of ups and downs (mostly a result of rough seas and an outbreak of Norovirus on the ship,) but I’m thinking that the next time I take a trip like that I should seriously consider having someone at or near my own age to bring along.  But as things do, the trip came and went, and ultimately it was time to return back to dry land and face reality once again.  But thanks to the aforementioned planning and saving, it wasn’t quite so much the usual cold hard crash back to reality I usually seem to end up with when this type of stuff comes around.

Another thing that has come with years of contracting at Microsoft is the fact that for better or for worse, I seem to have accumulated a fair bit of experience with job hunting during that time.  To be honest, it’s really not the type of thing I’d necessarily like to have as much experience with as I do, but it does tend to come in handy every so often.  One thing in particular that’s stood out from this experience is the importance of not burning bridges unnecessarily.  It’s been said that the people you meet on the way up the proverbial ladder are inevitably going to be the same people you’re going to meet on the way back down.  While I don’t care to speculate too much about which direction in that equation I seem to be trending in, I’ve definitely found that having a good network of people who you’ve worked with or associated with over the years can definitely make things easier when circumstances head off in one of these semi-unexpected directions.  One of the more interesting phenomena I encountered during this time was the fact that I had to do hardly any job searching at all.  Quite a few things found their way to me via the network of people I’ve worked with over the years, and ultimately it was out of some of these years-old contacts that I came up with the job that I began earlier this week.

To make a long story short, I am now on another contract at Amazon, working on stuff that I’ll refrain from discussing here at this time due to various non-disclosure agreements.  Although I have spent time (sort of) at Amazon before, this is the first time I have worked at their still relatively new South Lake Union campus, and even though it does bear at least some superficial similarities to Microsoft, there’s some notable cultural differences involved as well.  Perhaps the most noticeable one is the fact that most Amazon buildings permit employees to bring their dogs with them to work.  Not that I plan to try this anytime soon though.  I suspect that trying to bring Imola and Minardi to the office would somehow turn into a recipe for disaster…  Well OK, maybe Minardi might be OK, but you hardly ever see one without the other, and I’m pretty sure Imola would be sure to be on her worst behavior the whole time, and I don’t think trying to separate the two would work out too well.  But I digress.  Of course, working in Seattle again does mean that I had to give up the cushy three-block walk to work I had at my last job and join the 96% or so of the working population that actually has to commute to work, but the job over at Motricity was just one of those situations where all the right circumstances fell into place to make for an unusually easy commute.  That said, the commute isn’t too bad (the fact that Amazon provides their own shuttles from the bus tunnel certainly doesn’t hurt) and I’m sure I’ll get used to it soon enough.

As I have frequently noted here on this Blog and to people I discuss these things with, I find that one way or another things always seem to work out for me.  In my case, it frequently seems to happen much more in the “or another” category, but I suppose that’s still better than things not happening at all, right?


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