September 20, 1999
Bright and early Monday morning, the alarm went off and I jumped out of bed as if I were a teen-ager again, getting up to get ready for school.
I was showered, brushed and dressed by 8am and sitting across from my Dad at the breakfast table munching on a donut as if no time had passed at all since the last time my father and I were up and sitting at the breakfast table together.
But of course, it's actually been several years since that happened. In fact I believe it's been just about ten years. Scary thought that, that anything significant in my life could be ten years distant. I'm so used to thinking in single digits. That is probably the curse of almost any twenty-something, who still looks over his/her shoulder in wonderment at making it this far: still alive to see him/herself becoming a grown-up at last, and finally realizing why the grown-ups envied you as a kid.
I finished my donut fairly swiftly. I was under the impression that we really needed to get going as the state of traffic on the Blue Route can't be depended upon during rush hour. But Dad seemed relaxed and unconcerned, flipping through the newspaper and rambling about all and sundry in his usual dad-way.
I began to get fidgety around 8:30 and reminded him of the time. We finally got out the door at about 8:35 and talked all the way there. There was some minimal traffic due to an exit being washed out by flooding; the handiwork of good old Hurricane Floyd. But we still arrived at the interview location with plenty of time to spare.
I was amazed to discover that the building is literally, brand new. A work crew was still laying in the tar on the driveway, and upon entering, saw that half the ceiling was unfinished and the floor uncarpeted. I interpreted this as a sign of a company newly on the way up as every article I'd read about them seemed to indicate.
A hot, hot company in the process of expansion -- this could be a good bet for me. If only they weren't in BFE Willow Grove in a location that almost requires driving or living down the road, to be gotten to. I lifted my chin and strode breezily up to the receptionist after asking for directions -- the signs pasted to the walls weren't overly helpful. All around me I saw dozens of young people in jeans and nice shirts. Memo to self: casual dress code, another bonus.
I sat in a too hip to be square red chair in the lobby, gazing out at the bright, geometric-patterned carpet in wonder. The whole place literally reeked, of "new," "hot commodity," "nineties business philosophy." That part wasn't so reassuring -- I like my places of employment to be a little bit more on the funky side.
About ten minutes later, the HR recruiter came up to me and shook my hand warmly. She was very kind, efficient and with-it. After twenty more minutes I was swept off into the supervisor's office and having a very serious, very direct and to-the-point discussion about web design, my capabilities and what I thought of their web site. Critique was invited and I let myself cut loose a bit, saying what I liked, what I didn't like. I met two of the other guys on the team, both very nice and easy to talk to. One of them invited me to ask him questions and make him do the talking. So I did. In fact I grilled him on the interdepartmental dynamics, the personal dynamics of the team and what he thought of the company.
I liked just about everything I heard and only had one reservation about the place: the position was in user interface development and that was it. No graphic design, no real programming, just layout and interface.
All of a sudden I was feeling distinctly over-qualified for the position.
Then the same thing that happened to me on Friday, happened again. Just before lunch, the supervisor made me an initial offer. We went last to the HR recruiter and she set about drawing up the paper-work while the supervisor took me out to lunch.
That's right, you heard me, they took me out to lunch.
I've never been taken out to lunch by a prospective employer before. It was an odd, but gratifying experience and I wanted to take that job by virtue of the supervisor alone. He was that cool.
I called my Dad and he came to pick me up about twenty minutes later and we drove home, discussing the pros and cons of all three of the companies that I'd interviewed for.
My head was spinning and I was exhausted. last at the apartment, I gratefully changed out of the blasted interview suit and shoes and relaxed a bit before we drove off to catch a train last to Washington.
The ride home didn't go as smoothly as the ride up as my mind continued to spin with the weight of making a decision. Two offers on the table, both good, one better than the other and the prospect of moving to Philly a definite reality. I couldn't stop going last and forth over the ramifications of each and which might be better not only for my career but for my relationship with Sabs.
When I arrived at home, I just didn't want to talk about it. I wanted to put it out of my mind for a while. But that was not to be as Sabs was eager to discuss what had happened, and time was very short for making a decision.
Sleep was long in coming that night.