Tuesday, January 01, 2013

And that, friends, is how we fly across the country.

(Title reference can be found here.) 

This is actually my 250th blog post, so it seems fitting that I'm finally getting around to telling this story.  I'll be writing up my year in review post soon, but in order for it to make any sense, I need to tell you this story first.



So early last year my husband was working for a company which we'll call Calypso. Calypso is owned by a mega company, which we'll call Command. One day in early February, Shallow Man was sitting at his desk when his boss, his boss's boss, and his boss's boss's former boss (if you got that one, you're good) all walked into his office and closed the door. 

Shallow Man said he lost about ten years off of his life. 

But their offer to have him leave Calypso didn't come in the form of a firing or a layoff, but a transfer to another company owned by Command. A big wig of this company—let's call it Extant—was Shallow Man's boss's boss's former boss, and had gotten to know Shallow Man during his stint at Calypso. He explained that Extant's last attorney (they'd had three when they acquired the company and had whittled the team down) had just given notice and would Shallow Man like the job? 

The catch: Extant was based in Florida. 

Now, those of you who have been around for awhile know both where I'm going with this and that Shallow Man grew up in Florida. For the past several years every time it started snowing in Utah he would grumble about "the enemy from above" and start looking for Florida jobs. 

He'd also, at this point, been looking for a better job than Calypso for a little over a year. He'd had lots of interviews, several callbacks, and no offers, which meant that he was more than a little frustrated and discouraged. The chance to move back to his home state while getting away from Calypso AND getting a pay raise (the driving reason for his wish to defect from Calypso in the first place) was very appealing.

My heart knew, about three seconds after Shallow Man called me to tell me the news, that we needed to go. My head took more convincing because I happen to love Utah, having been born and raised here. Mountains, snow, family, etc.—in the Florida vs. Utah battle, only one state had these features. Unfortunately, and trumpingly (is that a word? It is now), the one thing that did NOT seem to exist in Utah was a better job for Shallow Man. 

I didn't WANT to go. But I knew that we should. No, that we NEEDED to. 

So we packed up (amid a lot of adventures, like Shallow Man flying out two weeks early to start work and find us a place to live, while I did most of the packing and spent a night in the hospital with the Little Guy due to an unexpected RSV case eight days before we were supposed to fly out) and moved to Florida. 


* * * 


At which point those of you still hanging around this blog didn't hear from me for five and a half months. 

This had to do with several factors, like the fact that moving and blogging don't really dovetail very well, both requiring at least 90% of your attention and time (I'm an English major, but I still know enough math to tell you that I don't have 180% of my time to give); writer's block; depression; starting a new work project that kept me pretty busy; and the fact that I was, essentially, a single mom at the time. 

See, the reason Extant's last lawyer had quit was that it was just too much work. He was overwhelmed, constantly at work, and missing time with his young family, and also not really getting paid enough to give up the rest of his life just for a job (and I should mention here that, as a mega company, Command doesn't value the time and talents of most of its employees as highly or lucratively as it probably should). 

And Shallow Man walked into the same situation (although for significantly less money, as he later found out, but that's getting a bit ahead of ourselves). He was the only lawyer for a company of hundreds of employees. He was working long hours from the get-go. He got sick at the beginning of April and had to take a half-day off and just that small break put him so far behind that he had to work 12-plus-hour days for the next week and still wasn't catching up. (There went our plans to hit up Disney World for our anniversary in May.) We lived 12 minutes away from his office but he still spent more time away from home than when he was making the over-an-hour-long-each-way commute to Calypso while we were living in Salt Lake. Even with the overall raise in salary, if you worked it out to an hourly rate he'd taken a major pay cut. They kept saying they'd be getting another lawyer in soon to help with the load, but never really started moving on it. 

With all this, I was essentially a single mom, and mostly carless to boot. We only had one vehicle, and when we first got to Florida I'd drop Shallow Man off in the morning and pick him up around dinner, and have the use of the car for the rest of the day. Once the length of his workdays increased, though, he needed to take the car because he'd be getting home late enough in the evenings that the Little Guy had been asleep for a few hours, and sometimes I had already gone to bed, too, and he didn't want to wake us up to come get him at 11:00, 11:30 or (a few times) midnight. 

Which is not to say that Florida was all bad. On the weekends we'd go out and explore. We got a membership to the Tampa Zoo (best zoo in the nation, seriously). We'd hit up the beach (although the first time we tried to go over to Clearwater beach was, unbeknownst to us, the middle of spring break. Forty-five minutes into the twenty-minute drive but less than a quarter of the way there, we gave up and came home, still fighting traffic. The round trip took about four hours; longest beach trip ever with no actual beach involved). We'd eat pizza from the Mellow Mushroom. Life on the weekends was really not bad at all. 

Too bad we had to get through the weeks to get to them, and that on some Saturdays Shallow Man was still just trying to recover from the previous week. 

It was getting to be too much, and fast. By early May, Shallow Man had also discovered that the previous attorney, working under the same conditions, had been getting more than $60,000 more a year than they'd offered Scott. He didn't think he was worth quite that much since he didn't have as much experience as the previous attorney had, but he did go in to talk to his boss about getting a raise to cover the [many] extra hours he was working and the lack of any kind of support staff or backup. 

His boss didn't even say he'd think about it. He just said no. (Okay, he did say that they liked Shallow Man and would take care of him in the future, but that didn't do much to ease the blow.) Pretty much what Shallow Man heard is "Nah, we'd prefer you to work yourself to death for cheap first. Then we'll see about taking care of you." Demoralizing to say the least. 

* * * 

All of which sets the stage for May 7th. 

A couple of weeks earlier, the people renting our little town house in Provo had let us know that they would not be renewing their lease when it expired at the end of June. Around noon on May 7th, Shallow Man sent me an email on his lunch break going over what we would need to do to find new tenants, and we said we'd start discussing it that evening. 

And then at about 4:15 p.m., Shallow Man called me. 

"Um," he said. Pause. "So." Pause. "Uh…." Longer pause; he was clearly slightly in shock and trying to figure out what to say. As per our usual routine, I told him to spit it out. 

"I just got an email from a headhunter/recruiter. She says she'd like to talk to me about a new employment opportunity." 

"Really? Just out of the blue like that? What kind of position?" 

Longest pause yet. "It's in Salt Lake." 


* * *


I think I inhaled all the air in the zip code, but couldn't say a thing. 

"Should I call her?" Shallow Man asked after a minute. Another employee at Extant had recently been fired when the higher-ups found out the employee was looking for another job, and Shallow Man was already paranoid that the axe would drop at any minute, just because the Command folks could be capricious like that.

I pondered this for a minute. "It couldn't hurt to get more information. See what she has to say. You don't have to apply if it doesn't sound good." But really, I thought to myself, could it be much worse than what you're going through here?

One more pause. "Okay. I'll talk to her. Can't hurt."


* * *


Let's just say the pitch was more than intriguing. It sounded wonderful. Even taking into account the perspective we were coming from, it seemed to be right up Shallow Man's alley. A Fortune 500 company (let's call it, say, Versal). A small legal outpost in a low-cost center. A brilliant and experienced team leader and mentor. Ground floor opportunities. Also, did I mention it was in Salt Lake?

And—do you believe in signs?—the starting salary was exactly the amount that Shallow Man had requested for a raise, and had been turned down by Extant.

There was a lot more behind-the-scenes drama that went into the final decision, which, frankly, I don't want to relive. Let's just say that former-Calypso-current-Extant-guy-who-brought-Shallow-Man-over didn't really decide to go with "gracious" or "supportive" as his adjectives of choice. But in the end, we made our decision, Shallow Man gave his notice, and I started repacking all the boxes.

And that, friends, is how we ended up on an airplane back to Utah exactly three months and five days after I moved to Florida.


* * *


Things worked out well. We ended up in a hotel for a couple of weeks while our tenants' lease ended—another major bright spot in the proceedings had been the moment we realized that we wouldn't have to try and find new renters—and then moved back into our little Provo townhome on July 5th. (Yeah, the day after the fourth of July. There was some fist-shaking when I realized that our nice Cabela's lounge chairs were going to still be on some truck where I couldn't get at them for fireworks time, but we lived.) Versal paid for the move, which was great.

We had packed up the truck in Florida in what amounted to a monsoon, and we unloaded the truck in Provo in nearly the same weather, only less hot and humid. The state had been going through a drought and a rash of crazy wildfires, so I like to take credit for causing the rainstorm that solved some of those problems.

It's been wonderful to be back in our little green house, as I call it, and to be back in our old neighborhood with old friends.

Most of all, though, it's been wonderful to see the change in Shallow Man. Going from the mental strain of feeling physically ill and cringing away from going to work in the morning (think me at my job right before law school) and being overworked, underappreciated, and having no mentor or real colleagues, to basically stepping into his perfect job. Versal appreciates him, recognizes his worth, and makes it known. They support him and give him good assignments. They help him learn what he needs to know rather than just saying, "Eh, you'll figure it out." They provide actual training. He has a mentor. He's learning a specialized practice area. He's getting a good paycheck. And, best of all, even with the commute back and forth (about an hour each way), he's still home waaaaaaay earlier than he ever was with either Extant or Calypso. It's a rare day that he's not home before 6:30, and he's so much happier when he does come home.

In short: best job ever.

The interesting thing is that Versal had been looking for someone for his new position since October of last year, seven months before we moved to Florida. I wondered at one point, why couldn't they have called him up earlier? You know, so we could have avoided the two cross-country moves in three months (I so do not recommend trying this under anything resembling normal circumstances). But it turns out that the clinching factor for them, what made them really decide they want him and what got him this job, was the work he'd done in Florida. The fact that Command liked him well enough to move him across country from Calypso to Extant made Versal want him—you know, when it rains, it pours.

Which explains the prompting I had felt immediately about going to Florida. I see the hand of the Lord so clearly in the proceedings as a whole, and in a lot of little details that I'm not going to be sharing in this public forum, that it would be foolish to deny it. We're exactly where we need to be, and we couldn't have gotten here any other way. In order to stay in Utah, we had to leave. In order to get his dream job, Shallow Man had to have his worst job first.

Like I've said before and elsewhere, you need the dark first before you can appreciate the light.

So. That's the story of how we flew across the country and moved to Provo.

Crazy? Yes.

Exhausting? Absolutely.

Miracle? Yeah, I'd say so.



And if that much packing and that many cross-country moves don't entitle me to some slack for my blogging laxity, I really don't know what does. Oh, wait. Yes, I do: Flying cross-country twice with two cats and a toddler. Boom.

6 comments:

Lost in Translation said...

I say this in all tenderness, but this read like a seriously messed up civ pro hypothetical.

It's interesting to read all in one place how the whole darn thing went down, although I think I knew most of the pieces of information told at random different times.

I'm glad the crazy times are over.

MJG said...

So glad you guys are back, though we don't hang out nearly as often as we should! I am sincerely hopeful that our likely cross-country move does not turn into two moves in such a short time. Sub out one cat and add a newborn... yikes.

KES said...

Thank goodness the awful job didn't last long and a quick escape to something better appeared.

elliespen said...

LiT, it kind of felt like a bad civ pro hypothetical at the time. I thought of it again when half of the Christmas cards we got this year were actually sent to our Salt Lake address—two addresses ago.

(To further confuse the Civ Pro issue, though, I should mention that the person who took over our lease in Tampa has a strikingly similar last name to ours. As in, add one letter to the beginning of our last name and that's his last name. And one of the people who moved into the house in Salt Lake has a first name that's strikingly similar to our last name—the only difference is the last letter. So with the Postal Service being what it is, we've gotten mail for BOTH of them forwarded to us here in Provo by mistake.)

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