Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

Things had been looking up. Or, so I thought. The phone was ringing and finally it wasn't an annoying telemarketer. Job leads. A couple of managers actually had read my application materials and were expressing some interest. Maybe the economy really is turning around and hiring will pick up in 2011.

My wife and I have accepted the notion we'll most likely be leaving Texas. We're really not concerned about what part of the country calls us; just so that we can live comfortably and get some help moving there. How two people can accumulate so much stuff in so short a time is beyond me, but somehow we managed to run up a $7500 bill when we moved from San Antonio to Houston.

So the phone was ringing and I felt like I had won the lottery. Like Stuart Smalley used to say, "I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me." OK, it was a bit for Saturday Night Live, and Al Franken was a bit nerdy. Look where it got him ... all the way to the Senate.

I was giddy. I had three different job prospects at the same time. If you've ever fantasized about how you would spend your millions when you won the lottery, you know how Jane-Ann and I felt. We went through a thousand "what if" scenarios trying to determine which would be the best opportunity. Two were out of state; the other was here in Houston. Although it meant a serious setback in salary and responsibilities, we decided if the local offer was made, we were here to stay.

The local interview was by committee, and I thought I held up to the questioning rather well. We spent more than two hours in the interview, and that was followed by a "test.” Since the "test" was computerized, and I was sitting at a computer with Internet access, I was able to "Google" the answers I needed. They gave me the resources, I utilized them.

The next interview also went well. We talked shop; made jokes, and didn't spill our soup at dinner. I knew an offer would come. And while I waited for that offer, a third interview took place. If I couldn't stay in Houston, this third opening was the one I wanted. Great company, great manager, great team; all that was missing was me. We could fix that.

Now from the "thrill of victory" comes "the agony of defeat.” While traveling back from third interview, I got a call from the local manager. His message was bright, cheerful, and simple. "Hey Ed, please give me a call and let's talk.” Jackpot! No-one ever calls with bad news; least of all with that cheerful sound in their voice. Let the spending begin! I see an iPad in my future! Uh, hold that thought. The manager was actually calling to tell me they had filled the position with an internal candidate. Not the news I wanted to hear, but a classy guy.

After returning from my last interview, I immediately sent my thank you note. I expected a quick response, like: "I enjoyed meeting you, too.” After two days, I received a long, emotional response informing me he put the position on hold. He needed to give his staff a bit more time to respond to his plea to step up. If the timing had been better, I could have mentioned how that worked out for Wade Phillips. Two down-one to go.

The good news was I did get a firm offer from the first interview! But there were items that needed to be negotiated; certainly the earlier mentioned help with moving expenses. The manager was understanding and really wanted to put the deal together. He would go to bat for me and see how much more assistance he could provide. All other interviews took place while I was waiting for him to get back to me. But now that the first two positions had crashed and burned, I reached out for news. You don't need a magnifying glass to see this one coming: "Sorry Ed, the position has been eliminated from the budget.” It would seem I was fired before I was hired! Three down - none to go.

The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. And still no iPad.

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