Giant steps forward, no turning back now.
My lack of posting lately has been for the simplest excuse…I’ve literally had no time. And I mean, literally.
I have taken on a second job, one that I am very excited about. For the first time in almost five years I’ll be putting my programming and database skills to the ultimate test. Not only am I forcing myself to learn new languages (VB.NET 2003 for instance), but I am on a considerable time crunch to deliver the goods. It’s nerve-wracking, exhausting, but altogether the most wonderful career choice I’ve made since my early days at Sprint Canada, forever known in my psyche as ye lost me a thousand bucks in stock, ya bastards!. When I started at Sprint, I was already fairly competant at using databases, but I had very little programming experience (beyond my 20+ year old Commodore Basic skills). From day one, I learned everything I could, and became pretty good at automating all of the old databases we with VBA, but then the challenge was gone, and I wanted something new.
Then it happened. Our one resident staff member with programming knowledge was being transferred to a special projects area. The role he was leaving behind included administration of two large Customer Care applications, two SQL Servers, and a Pager to be left on 24/7 (adding one hour of pay per day to the holder). The managers were going to offer his gig to somebody else in the department. So, I went completely against my own character at the time, and took a chance. I marched into my bosses office, and literally DEMANDED that I get the job. I got it.
The next couple years were spent playing, for lack of a better word. I experimented with VB6 and SQL Server 6.5, and if I learned some cool trick, then it usually found its way into my programs (which grew steadily from the solely mandated 2 apps to around 7).
I was in my glory, until after a department shuffle I found myself suddenly a member of IT, being forced to follow SDLC guidelines and having a boss who did not care for my excitement over programming and need to actually make customers happy. It chafed like no tomorrow. I decided to stick out my thumb. And someone bit.
And I promptly fell directly into the pits of hell. It took awhile to notice, but there I was.
The job required a move all the way out to Cambridge, Ontario. I would be working in a huge industrial facility as the sole VB programmer. At first, I loved it. I’d stick my hardhat on, and walk through the factory, sparks falling around me. going to this meeting or that. In a short period of time, I seemed to have the respect of many around the plant. However, one person seemed to not be a fan at all. Unfortunately that one person was my boss. I’m not sure if it was because she was threatened by my take-charge attitude to my programming, or if she just missed my predecessor, who was a consultant called away by his parent company. No matter the reason, she browbeat me fairly regularly, and my morale began to drop.
Suddenly I was finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Not depression, exactly, but I was physically having problems getting up…my legs weren’t responding as they used to, and my joints all hurt. Even though I lived only 10 minutes from the factory I was chronically late. The shouting matches soon began between my boss and I. So, after 3 months and one loud word too many from both sides, I suddenly found myself with a lot of time on my hands. Her second in command was almost in tears when he walked me to my car.
Problem #1, I had a one-year lease on my condo. So, I looked for more work. And then Nortel happened in a big explosive fireball of doom, and there was a big glut in the market of technical people looking for work. Plus I lived practically next door to one of the largest technical universities in the world – Waterloo. What chance would there be for a college dropout like me; having recently left a job after only a short time frame, plus someone who was experiencing ever worsening physical problems all of a sudden (by this time I had lost my ability to run, walk fast, or even ride a bike).
It was dire. I lost almost everything in my mad scramble to retain my lease and to stay in Cambridge. But then I found a job, back in Newmarket, where I had just moved from. Soon enough, I found a new place to live, with a roommate who was destined to be my wife. I packed up my place in Cambridge (rather poorly, as my friends are want to inform me of often), and made the trek back.
I was still programming in the next job, by my heart just wasn’t it. I was still wrecked financially and my body was so stiff I looked 80 years old when I walked. I did have some fun though, and am still proud of what I acheived there. And yes, I was shocked when the company was suddenly bought out and my job became redundant after one year, but it was a good thing two. I took a year off, began fixing my financial burden up and investigating my health issues. I volunteered in non-profit sectors to get my confidence and morale back, and after that year was done I was ready to go back to work.
My current full time job has been good for me and bad at the same time. It has been a wonderful provider. However, my programming skills have been left in dark to rot. Pretty much, if I ask for a tool, I won’t get it. I’ve been given MS Access and told this is the only corporate tool I’ll need. No problems, but so 10 years ago for me. No challenge in any way, shape or form.
You may ask yourself, why don’t I just program at home to keep myself in practice? Simple answer, same reason that a mechanic drives an old beater – no ambition to keep working on it at home. Add that to my theatre hobbies and family life, and there you go. I needed something specific to get me back in the game again.
I’ve found it. Or, it found me. But no matter what, I am inspired to be a full time programmer again, and if this new gig works out, pretty soon that is exactly what I may be – a FULL TIME Programmer. Hence one of the two jobs will need to go away…it’s pretty obvious which one.
I’ll update soon….