As some of you (at least those of you following my Twitter feed) have heard, I was laid off from my job yesterday.
I have a tendency to do a lot of navel-gazing at this sort of event. Over the last couple of weeks I felt like I was going pretty slow, dallying on things that shouldn’t have taken me nearly as much time to complete. And I suspect I’m probably 3-4 months behind where I’d have been if we’d had a better development process, with a better bug management process, a formal testing requirements, someone with QA experience doing actual QA… basically, a somewhat larger team, rather than one and a half people and others finding bugs when they could.
Of course, a larger team would have meant more money, and according to my (now ex-) boss, money was the problem. The company’s primarily made income through consulting services, and this economy is, well, not very pretty for consultants. It’s also not very pretty, apparently, for starting up a fairly expensive business web service. The demos to prospective clients are apparently going well, but generally getting, “Come back to us in mid-2009” as a response.
While legally I was only an employee since the end of January, I’d actually been with the company full-time for over two years, a total of 26 months. It’s somewhat dismaying to realize that, in terms of my employment history, that makes this the second longest stretch of employment I’ve had. Ever.
So. Now what?
A bit over two years ago, after a permanent job in Palo Alto fell through, I wrote a bitter entry called “The hamster wheel” about possibly moving or going back to college or what have you, anything to get off the cycle. Which, of course, continued anyway. Ironically, at that point I wrote, “I’ve transitioned to technical writing successfully,” and then proceeded to end up having my most successful, enjoyable job out here back in the programming field.
My personal situation has changed markedly since I wrote that, of course; I’m no longer living with tugrik, which has good and bad points for job-seeking: Foster City is farther away from San Jose and the South Bay, but it’s more central to, well, nearly everywhere else. I’m less than 10 miles away from BART’s southern terminus, too. On the flip side, it’s a lot more expensive to live here. Naturally, part of me regrets not pushing for one of the cheaper apartments we looked at up here, but c’est la vie. Part of me’s also thinking, “Why did I buy that TV? That DVD player? That sofa? I didn’t need a living room!”
But the silver lining is that I have more in savings now than I did back then and very little debt; while I can’t coast indefinitely, I can coast a while if necessary. I suspect I’m going to go back to being something of a café bum again. I may drive to random locales a little more, although with gas prices as they are I won’t be too cavalier about it. Maybe I’ll splurge on some cheap flip flops. (One downside to being up here: getting to Santa Cruz, the best town in the area to be a beach bum in, is much harder.) Maybe I’ll apply for unemployment and actually follow through with it for once; I’ve applied twice but never actually collected it, simply because I got contract work before the checks started. I’ll try to resume cooking at home, since I no longer have the excuse of a lack of time.
None of which is to say that I’m intending to stay off the hamster wheel for very long; I’m just being realistic. This time two years ago I didn’t know whether I’d be staying in the Bay Area, and I’m still potentially open to moving, although realistically I suspect the only places I’d be willing to relocate to are either back to Florida (Tampa Bay or Orlando) or up toward Seattle. As much as I like some of the other areas I’ve been to—Portland, Oregon is very pretty, as is Santa Barbara—I’ve realized that having a social support network of the offline kind is important to me.
Now to shower, get lunch and possibly buy some flip-flops.