That was our tree this year. Two days after New Year’s Day, we took it down and packed up the decorations. Normally I like to leave it up a bit longer, especially on years when we don’t go to Messr. Crankyface’s for Thanksgiving. His family owns a Christmas tree farm, and we like a fresh (free) tree and a chance to see people, revel in the holiday shop, be stuffed until our stomachs and pockets can hold no more. But after a long trip to my family’s in Indiana, another trip up north the following weekend never happens, and sometimes we can’t go the weekend after that, either, and the next thing we know it’s nearly Christmas and we still don’t have a tree.
I love Christmas; I love the trees and the decorations and trying to figure out what my loved ones will really like to receive on Christmas morning – if I have enough time, energy, and money to devote to the task. I love making cookies of all kinds – if people will eat them. I love reveling in the warmth and watching the snow and sipping my Hot Beverage Of Choice whilst ensconced in woolen knits crafted by my own hands, watch my family cavort (and not need me at all) in woolen knits also crafted by my loving hands, a cat warming my feet and a fire flickering brightly. This year, however, things were different. We sped through Christmas preparations, skipping as much as we could in the name of efficiency and thrift, a question hanging over our heads that colored our celebrations.
It was no secret to anyone (except, perhaps, his client) that Messr. Crankyface was unhappy with his job. Consultants have some say regarding the company for which they work, but not as much as one might wish. A job is a job, and good relations with important clients is important, and when one works for a smaller consulting company, one does not always get the placement one might wish. In this case, however, he was doing a job for which he had not been hired, programming in a language he was not very familiar with or fond of, for people whose idea of what they wanted was not only impossible given the limits of time, space, purpose and money, but seemed to change slightly at every meeting with the marketing department. After one week, he was annoyed. After two, he was fairly certain he hated the position. After three, he requested a transfer. They asked him to stay for three months, until they could find a replacement. He agreed. After that three months, he asked again. He wasn’t doing the very specialized job for which they had specifically hired him, he reminded them. His skills were worth a lot more doing his chosen specialty rather than filling this gap in their proverbial fence. They asked him to wait some more.
He waited. He asked again. They told him to wait until the estimated end of project. He waited. They extended the project and his assignment. Twice.
He took a job interview. He took another, and another, and another. Recruiters called him night and day for his specific skill set, asking him to move to Texas (NO), South Carolina (no thank you), Atlanta (fucking hell), Brazil (not legally?!); never places we wished to live, never for enough money, never for projects or companies that seemed likely to last longer than a year. It had become a joke between us, almost.
“Got a call from a recruiter today. They mispronounced my name AND the job title they’re recruiting for. Promising, right?”
“Eighth recruiter call from that company I blacklisted. That is, eighth different person calling from this contracting company. Heck of a turnover.”
“I can’t even understand what this one is saying. That is English, right?” (It was not.)
“I just talked to the King of the Brogrammers. It’s possible this dude just pimped out his administrative assistant as one of the perks of the job. Another was that he was willing to back me up with work excuses when I didn’t want to go home.”
“Do you want to live in North Dakota? Huh…what’s in North Dakota?” (Answer: not much we were interested in.)
So when he received a call about a company we had heard of, located on the east coast near other tech-related opportunities (in case it went quickly south and another job would be needed soon after), my hopes were not up. (They wanted to be. I didn’t let them.) He had a phone interview, and then they asked him to fly out for an in-person. It wasn’t an easy process, but he did it. And then, a week before Christmas, they made an offer.
It wasn’t enough. He re-negotiated. They gave him what he asked. It was a beautiful career opportunity.
So, we have moved from Ohio to the middle of New Jersey. Or at least, we will, once the house we’re renting opens up. At the moment, we’re staying with his aunt and uncle in southern Connecticut, and our cats are occupying the basement floor of a duplex in Queens that belongs to a college friend of mine (one I quite literally have not seen in over ten years). We’re here for two weeks. Our stuff is currently making the trek from OH to NJ. Messr. Crankyface has been on the job since Monday, despite the little blizzard and sub-zero temperatures, and the frankly desperate state of our finances. We are warm, we are safe, and we are waiting impatiently, but we are together.