The Company Move
Toward the end of the year, SoftwareCompany suddenly announced that, in an attempt to save bucks, they’re moving the support division from San Francisco to a lower cost area in Denver, CO.
Employees are given an option. You can either take a 2-month severance package and say goodbye to your beloved current employer, or make the move. If you go with Plan B, you get a free week of vacation that is intended to be used to help the physical relocation, plus a bit of money to help cover logistics.
In my next 1:1 with Mr. Data, I tell him I’ll take the package. Without a single emote, he clicks a box on an electronic document loaded in his laptop, asks me to sign a form, and we’re done.
The next day, the director of support calls me into his office. He says he’s going to be very disappointed to see me go. I’m a senior guy and a strong contributor, yada yada.
Here’s where it gets interesting. He asks if there’s any way I’ll change my mind, and I say yes.
A position needs to open up for me where I’m no longer taking tickets from customers anymore.
I go on to tell him I’m completely burnt on tickets; over the years, our wonderful clients have worn me down. I don’t stop there, adding that the volume and flow of unstoppable tickets as delivered via conveyor belt is stupefyingly, soul-crushingly depressing.
Yes, I know, he says. It’s a sisyphean task that never ends. The frank admission from management (from the Director, no less!) remains one of the most satisfying acknowledgements I’ve ever received.
And truthful exchanges like this are the beauty, by the way, of your employer knowing that you’re planning on leaving the company. All bullshit gets dropped. I can suddenly afford to be bluntly honest in a way that is not possible when you’re both pretending that you’re loyal and you’ll both be with the company for the next sixty years, cradle to grave. In short, I don’t have to pretend that I’m happy and everything’s perfect.
Here, something unexpected happens. Mr. Director says that there’s an opportunity to be a team lead in Denver. This would be about 20% ticket work and 80% management. There would also be a 15% pay increase.
I tell him I’m interested but I need the offer in writing. He says no problem and sends me an email.
To my own surprise, I find myself making plans to go.
On my first day in Denver, I discover that Mr. Data relocated to a different office.
This means that I have a new manager.
And this new guy is incredibly nice and personable, actually. He behaves like a real human being, reminding me a bit of my Year 1 manager, Paul. It’s terrific. He’s able to convincingly pretend that he really cares about his employees.
The second week I’m there, I mention to this guy that I’m really looking forward to being the team lead and ask what we need to do prior to me assuming the position. Like, do I need training? What are the next steps?
He’s confused. They already have a lead. There’s no open position.
I ask if our director talked to him about it yet. You know, because maybe he didn’t.
Here I get a news flash. Our director is no longer with the company. Turned out, he didn’t want to relocate his family.
OK, no problem, I think. I have a statement in writing. So I forward my new manager the email with my director’s promise and we look over it together. Although he agrees that the email is legitimate, he’s not sure what he can do. He’s already got a team lead. There can’t be two.
I thought I was so smart for getting the promise in writing (after being burned by Friendface’s promises in Year 3, I’d learned my lesson.) But that statement was only worth something if my director was around to back it up. And he obviously wasn’t.
To this day, this whole episode confuses me. I don’t understand my director’s motives behind asking me to stay with the company, asserting that there’d be a new position available for me, and then immediately leaving the company himself. Surely he must have already known during our own meeting together that he wasn’t going to be with SoftwareCompany in the new location?
I have a hard time believing that he set me up to move and then be disappointed on arrival. He seemed to genuinely just want to retain me, citing my strong performance during my tenure.
Much to my astonishment, I wasn’t all that angry about it. Not even for a second. I took it as a sign that it was time for me to go. Oh sure, I could have called HR and tried to fight it. But to go to all of that effort, I would have had to really want the new position.
And I found that I simply didn’t.
So two months later, despite having moved 1500 miles for the company, I turned in my notice.
It was the least dramatic exit from a company I’ve ever made. If there was anything of substance to report, believe me, I’d report it. But I just sort of disappeared.
Given the circumstances, my new manager completely understood the reasons and couldn’t offer me any incentive to stay. He made one attempt to ask if a salary increase might help me change my mind, but I think he knew the answer in advance; I could see it in his face that he was just going through the motions.
This is the crazy truth about leaving companies. Most of the time, the only person that really cares is you.
Year End Financial Summary
Net Worth at Start: -10K.
Net Worth at End: +8K
Note: I don’t include any material assets in calculating net worth, e.g. my car is not part of these totals
- Real changes to my spending patterns were enacted this year — I cut over 2K/mo of discretionary purchases.
- I finally opened tax-advantaged accounts.
- Opened my 401(k) and got 8K in there (4K of my own contributions, 4K match from my employer)
- Opened a Traditional IRA and stashed another 4K.
- Paid off my 40K in student loans. Hooray!
- I had 30K in a savings account. I transferred 20K of that into my loans.
- Each month I took the amount I saved from cutting spending and dumped it into my loans. Close to the end of Year 4, my loans were gone. Just like that.
- I was only spending about 2.2K/mo at this point, down from something close to 4.4 the previous year.
- Bought a new car, a 2003 Honda Civic, for about 16K after taxes and fees. I thought I’d need one in Denver. 0% financing. I figured it’d last me at least 10 years. Not the worst decision in the world, to be sure, but still, I now had $500/mo car payments plus insurance/excise tax/inspection/registration/maint fees. Cars cost an incredible amount of money to own and keep up.
- I still had no idea what to invest in. I don’t honestly remember which funds I picked and my records of the accounts are gone. It wasn’t all cash, but neither was it indexed. I got my act together a bit more in this area in Year 5.