An uneventful month and a half at AltaGas in Leduc was notable only for the fact that Jeff, the guy at the golf course who was solely responsible, in the first summer, for ensuring that the trees had enough water, was working an internship in the office. We laughed over old times and played crib over lunch hours. But there are more exciting times ahead. I will provide, for your edification, education, and enterntainment, a tasteful montage. It will get you through the next couple of yours until my next noteworthy job.
Scene 1 (set to the research music in CSI, Bones, House, and all those brainy shows)
Liam, returning to the basement suite, opening a computer science textbook and knuckling down to study. He reads one page, turns the page, then throws the book over his shoulder, and turns to play Madden football.
Scene 2 (the research music turns more tense, almost frantic)
Liam, sitting hunched over a test, sweat pouring from his forehead. Zoom out, and it’s a classroom full of students writing their finals.
Scene 3 (intense, emotional music, like on a show where there’s an important part and they didn’t want to write the dialogue, so they just put music in)
Liam, standing in front of a professor who is wearing a stern face. Liam is pleading his case. The professor is unmoved but Liam gets down on his knees, a supplication. The teacher shakes her head in disgust but waves Liam off his knees. She holds her hand out to shake but Liam grabs her in a hug and spins her around.
Scene 4 THE FINAL SCENE (80s music denoting victory — maybe Survivor, maybe Triumph)
Liam is driving home down Highway 2, tears streaming down his face. He is laughing and crying like Jesse on the Breaking Bad finale.
I’m very proud of this montage. It comes the closest to adequately describing how I felt about my last couple of years in university.
I’d do another montage about meeting Kim, finding true love at long last, and starting a healthy, meaningful adult relationship for the first time in my life, but I don’t want to synopsisize those early days. That’s the subject of its own blog series, some other day.
The reason Kim and I is relevant to this post is, Kim made a comment about the employment state of her previous boyfriends and how she’d never started a relationship with a guy who had a job. Granted, I could have said something witty about how her men needed to dedicate themselves to her and that they just had the right priorities, but I don’t have a suave bone in my body. Instead of going that route, I said, “I’ll have a job by Friday.” Come Friday, I had two. I only accepted one, though, and a week and a half later, I started at Halliburton.
I won’t pretend that I treated Halliburton as much more than a place to earn a pay cheque while I applied for programming jobs. Oh, I worked at the job. I did my best with the tasks that were given to me.
The timing of my graduation was a little unfortunate as far as immediately finding a programming job. I worked as a temp for six months and just about quit when they said they weren’t going to hire me as a permanent employee. I’d actually gone home and was looking for programming jobs with a growing sense of futility when they called me back into the office and offered me the permanent position.
Things went pretty smoothly after that. I worked to get all of the data moved over to the new database. The first six months of my job were spent filling up a spreadsheet that was supposed to be used to automate the data conversion, but after that time, they deemed that the spreadsheet was not sufficient to the task. The new database did not give me scripting access and the spreadsheet option was the only hope of automation. As I said, though, it was horribly broken. So, I went ahead and entered the data through the … ugh … web interface.
When I finally finished work with the data conversion, I started on a different piece. Like other jobs, this was very process-driven and I didn’t do a great job of it. But I was much more effective at it than I had been at the other jobs that were much the same. Something about a mortgage payment and a wife and kid made me work to get better at it rather than moving on.
Then my boss quit. He had his fingers in a lot of pies, and one of those pies — namely the running of the document office — got handed to me. It was on an interim basis for the first four or five months, and HR dithered and dragged their feet, but right around the time that Lily was born, my promotion went through.
I was in charge of my department and getting paid well, but I wasn’t happy. I wanted to be a programmer, not a boss, so I kept applying for entry-level programming jobs. That’s not strictly true. There still were no entry-level programming jobs, so I sent out a pile of resumes, cold-calling in the hopes of landing something.
Eventually, Victor, who had invited me out to Saturday morning soccer, suggested that I apply at Intuit. I was skeptical, but I applied anyway. In the upset of the year, the best company I’d applied to, the one that I’d thought I had the least chance of landing, was the company that got back to me. I was terrified, but I read some books on job interviews, and learned how to do an interview. I did well and got a job offer.
Before I left Halliburton, though, I had a couple of “boss” things to do. One girl was far too slow at her job and I had to fire her. It was hard because she’d been my first hire. I know it was for the best and I think she knew it too, but I had nightmares about that.
On the other hand, I got to interview and hire her replacement who seemed like a really good fit and, as far as I know, she might still be there.
I got a speech from my boss, telling me that if things didn’t work out at Intuit, I could come back. It was a relief, but when I left Halliburton, I knew I wouldn’t be back.