The universe flashed a neon exit sign at me this week, and my entire perspective has been shifting to a new reality the last few days.
I don’t talk about my Evil Day Job a lot here, other than the fact that I still have one. I’ve been with the same company and team (though the team members have shifted across various sub-teams several times) my entire 27 year career. My coworkers are my friends, even though we live states apart now. When I go up for work, we hang out every night that I’m there because it might be years before I get to see them again.
Of course with any job there are highs and lows. I’ve been unhappy with a lot of my job duties for the past ten years or so. Basically I was asked by a now-gone manager, “What would you like to work on next?” I said, “I don’t care as long as it’s not support. That’s the only thing I DON’T want to do.”
And guess what I’ve been doing since then? Yeah.
The late night calls. 2 AM. 5 AM. One night I was called THREE TIMES with only a half hour or hour in between calls. The instant stress and anxiety when my phone starts ringing because it might be work. Getting up from a deep sleep at 7 AM on New Year’s Day to work for a couple of hours because five other people were called first and didn’t answer their phone. The stress of having to make on-the-fly decisions that could cost the company a lot of money if I’m wrong — when I’ve been dead asleep.
But the people matter to me, and this many years in, of course the retirement benefits matter to me too.
Guess what That Man took 50% of though… So of course, that’s weighing on me. An early retirement means I’d only end up with 25% of where I could have been. But it’s been tempting over the years.
Especially when I’ve cancelled pre-orders or shifted book plans in the past because EDJ work needed to come first. A late-night or overtime week meant that I couldn’t make my writing deadlines. My time is so limited, and my brain power is often consumed by work instead of plotting or thinking about my next book. So when I do sit down to write, I’m slow because I’m still thinking things through.
This far in, though, you think, “I can make it a few more years. I can hit 30. And if I hit that, I can hit 35….” And of course the health insurance is important, both for me and my adult kids who don’t have careers of their own yet. My youngest still has two more years of college that I’m helping her with.
Plus, it’s less frightening to know that I have a constant salary with good benefits, rather than trying to be a full-time writer without any benefits at all.
Until on a random Tuesday in October you find out that all of that is going away. Just like *snaps* that.
The universe hung a flashing neon sign right in front of me. I have approximately 12-18 months left and my career and all the people I’ve worked with for 27 years this December will be gone.
Sure, there’s a chance that they could find a spot somewhere in the company for an old dog like me, but the reality is that my technical skills are limited to the job that I have been doing. I’m not well suited to move to another team with modern technology. I’m only GOOD at the programming language that we’ve worked on for 27 years and that’s going away. Maybe I could take a chance and find an entirely new area of the company to work for. It would likely involve a demotion and pay cut. Is it worth it to keep my benefits? I don’t know. Right now, my gut says no.
My gut sees the writing on the wall and the flashing sign. Exit now. Arrow here.
It’s time to go.