When I decided, as an adult who already had a family, to go back to school and get my degree, I decided to go blindly into the information technology arena. I mean, hell, I had done some programming in Basic on an Atari 800 when I was 10 years old and I enjoyed that. This would be the same, right? Plus, the IT industry will be around forever, in some form or another, so it seemed like a smart decision to get my degree in IT.
Somewhere there probably still exists a 5.5-inch floppy disk with the best damn number guessing game on it written by a ten-year-old yours truly.
I never asked myself if I would enjoy working in IT for the rest of my life. Sure, a job is a job and I have been grateful for every job I have ever had, but as the years wore on, I was getting burned out and becoming less and less happy with the choices I had made to get me here. And I couldn’t figure out a way to shake me out of the growing funk.
Unless I could find a company or a cause I truly felt passionate about even while staying in the IT field, someplace that was about the arts or humanity or charity or something along those lines. Could I use my IT skills to make the world better in some small way?
What Would You Say … You Do Here?
Then one day the opportunity came. The Wife was finishing school and perusing the interwebs for a place she could use her new Master of Arts Administration degree.
“Hey,” she said. “Look at this job. Isn’t this what you do?”
Not being in IT, she doesn’t really understand what it is I do. No biggie. No one outside of IT really does. I sighed and looked over her shoulder at her computer screen, ready to tell her for the millionth time, no, no that isn’t really what I do.
But this time it was. It was exactly what I did. And it was for a major non-profit arts organization … on the other side of the country. To take a job like this would mean sacrificing a lot of things, the biggest being living thousands of miles away from my children. But it was what I had been wishing for: a job that, in my stupid opinion, “mattered.”
I applied, knowing that it would be beyond a long shot, and quite frankly forgot I had done so. A few weeks later, I realized I had missed an email from them. They wanted to talk. One phone interview became a second, became a Skype video interview, became more phone calls, became a job offer. All before I had even decided if I could ever truly move.
After hours and hours of conversations with The Wife, The Ex-Wife, The Wife’s Ex, my kids, The Wife’s kids, parents, and friends the decision was made that taking the job and moving across the country was what was needed. Well, what I needed, to make it through the next decades of working while counting myself among the number of men living lives of quiet desperation.
We bit the bullet. We walked the road less traveled, took a leap of faith, did the thing that scared us … basically all the crap you are told will pay off for you.
“So, how’s that working for you?” you ask.
Happily Ever Aft – Goddamnit, COVID-19!
Two years later I am sitting at home in the middle of the workweek writing on a blog, drinking rum and Coke, and eating Reese’s Pieces for lunch. That’s how it’s going.
Could it be worse? You bet your ass it could be … I guess. I mean, of course, it could be. Right?
Yes, both The Wife and I were placed on furlough and are currently unemployed. Yes, we both work (worked?) for a place that relies on large, non-socially-distant crowds meaning that even when the country is open again, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean, our industry isn’t just going to be able to snap back to normal.
There are industries for whom it may take years to actually be “open”, no matter when Orange-45 mistakenly says we are through the woods on this.
But at least my family is finally getting some unemployment. We have received generous gifts from friends and colleagues and family. Yes, most of our creditors have been able to help by letting us delay paying for a month or two or three. Mortgage is still up in the air, however.
So, yes, things could be worse, but that isn’t the point.
The point is I am angry and scared and extremely depressed. Basically, all the shitty stages of grief and loss, but in one ever long stage all at once. I sacrificed living near my kids for something that I have now lost due to no fault of my own. And since I just bought a house, I just can’t pick up and go back to them.
When do I let it go? When do I let myself believe I will never work there again, and go find another job for, most likely at some shitty corporate covid-proof entity? How close do I get to the unemployment and generous gifts running out before I accept that the dream I sacrificed so much for is over?
When do I give up?