All entries in the 'Life Story' series:
The following 3 months were an emotional rollercoaster; at first, I was excited about the new job. But that excitement quickly turned into some serious anxiety.
The timeline is a bit fuzzy right now, but around that time, Laura made a reappearance – I don’t remember how or why but the point is we were talking again. We were even seeing each other frequently.
She would come to me saying things like “I feel sad” or “Can we meet for coffee?” and I would, of course, say yes every time.
I was a bit defensive though, I have had enough of her shenanigans in the past so I was being cautious and I wasn’t expecting anything to happen (anything good anyway).
The New Gig
When you are starting a new job, you’d think they hired you because they need your skills, right? Like, there is an almost immediate need for your skillset.
Well, not for these guys. I was immediately thrown into what they call a “Talent Pool”. So basically I wasn’t assigned to a project, and my tasks were to “study and prepare for whenever I was actually assigned to a project”. Well ok, it took me a couple of weeks to get used to that, and even then I still felt like a leech. It was uncomfortable. After my first paycheck, I basically said “fuck it” and embraced the free time I had.
To join a project, I had to have interviews with either the project manager or the client, maybe both. I still think it’s a weird process, but whatever.
At the same time, I was also applying to remote offers that looked interesting; I wasn’t too dedicated to this but I had a hunch about the current job, something was off and I was calmly looking for alternatives.
After two months had passed, I was finally assigned to a project. Finally, I was going to have something to do, or so I thought. This was a banking solution. And I hate banking.
They gave me a laptop heavier than my conscience and a PC monitor even though I insisted I didn’t need one – I had to pick it up and I never even opened the box. Oh, and they also gave me a neat backpack.
My Daily Tasks (Or the lack thereof)
I “met” the team on a call, this was all remote. They gave me access to a couple of repositories and a few shared docs, and then they vanished. No one explained to me what we were building, or what exactly was expected from me. It took me a couple of days to get everything set up because, again, it was a banking project and security was just a nightmare.
After asking for help, or asking about the project without getting straight answers I began to feel a ton of anxiety. The project manager on the client’s side would ask me “How are you doing?”, I would raise my concerns and they would say “Alright I’ll get someone to help you” and that just never happened.
A couple of weeks later I crashed during a call.
Context first: It had been two weeks where I had had all the imaginable issues finding documentation and getting things running. No one was clear about my tasks, priorities, nothing. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be working on – to this day I still have no idea what the project actually was about.
So imagine me, on a Wednesday or Thursday morning, around 8 a.m., joining a call with about five or six other people, where the first thing I heard was “Hey David, please share your screen so we can check on your progress”. PROGRESS ON WHAT?
I was lost. I had no clue. And I was exhausted of asking and asking and asking and getting no clear answers. And yet they have the nerve of asking for progress.
At this point anxiety bested me, I immediately left the call, closed the laptop, put my phone on Do Not Disturb, and went back to bed.
My Fight-or-Flight response was to just completely shut down.
A couple of days later they took me out of the project and back to the “talent pool” I went.
During this time, I was seeing Laura fairly often and we were texting daily. I told her everything that was going on and she was somewhat supportive – although I couldn’t help but feel like was actually judging me a little.
As I mentioned earlier, I had a bad feeling about this job from the beginning and I was still looking for good alternatives.
I had a few interviews and submitted a few technical tests. Most notably, I had interviews/tests at Shopify and Automattic (the makers of WordPress).
In the process with Shopify, I made a stupid mistake during a live coding interview (fuck those by the way) and they “decided to move on with other candidates”.
The process with Automattic was better. They assigned me a project to complete in around a week, and they added me to a Slack channel where I could ask questions or share my progress.
The project was… interesting; find and fix a few bugs and make a list of all the security vulnerabilities in the code. Well goddamn.
Fixing bugs? Easy. That took me about an hour. I spent the rest of the time doing research on WordPress security and going through all the code trying to spot problematic parts. I did find some issues, around five or six clear problems.
When I thought I was done, I submitted it and waited… and waited.
They finally got back to me, and turns out I had missed like other five security issues, and that was enough for them to decide not to continue the interviewing process with me.
While I waited on Automattic, I remembered this company I had applied to a couple of years prior, Awesome Motive. I checked their website for openings, found an interesting one, and applied again.
Then I figured I would reach out again to the person who had accidentally ghosted me that time.
I sent them an email letting them know that I was again looking for a remote opportunity, and I let them know that I had applied to an open position on their website.
They replied a few hours later saying “Excited to hear you submitted your application, thanks for that. I’ve flagged it, added more details from our previous conversation, and also pinged the hiring manager for that position”.
That’s the actual quote.
I was excited, and more than that, I was hopeful.
That same night, I received an email from the “hiring manager” with a few basic WordPress questions and a couple of others about my experience. I replied the next day with fairly detailed answers. Then I waited, anxiously.
A full week passed and I decided to reach out again with the classic “I was wondering if you had the chance to over my previous email” stuff.
I received a reply the next day with a few more questions, including salary expectations and availability for a call the following week.
This was a Friday. The interview was scheduled for the following Monday and I was incredibly nervous. During the interview, it was clear to me that I had sorted most of the technical aspects of the process, and this was just a culture-fit kind of interview. That helped me relax a little, especially once I noticed how chill the “manager” was. I actually had fun at this interview.
After the call, I had to send answers to a couple of other questions that came up during the call. I did that immediately, and got a “Thank you! We’ll be in touch as soon as we reach a decision”.
A full week passed again. Again, I decided to reach out and ask if they had an update.
Two days later they sent me a job offer. I had made it. This was literally a life-changing opportunity, and I had landed it. I was over the moon, literally crying out of excitement as I read the email.
The very next day I sent my resignation letter, effective a few days later. This was a Thursday, and I think I dated my resignation for Wednesday of the following week. I was done with these people and their anxiety-inducing mess.
That following week I drove over there to give them back the laptop, the PC monitor I never took out of the box. And, you’re not going to believe this… they asked for their crappy backpack back, these cheap
All I got from them was heaps of anxiety and insecurity. Well, and two COVID shots for me and my sister.
Aaaaand she’s gone
By the time I was starting my new, awesome job, Laura went silent. Out of nowhere.
I had a feeling that something was off, that we weren’t texting as often or as much as usual. And I noticed that if I didn’t start a conversation, there wasn’t ever one.
So one night, I decided to put this to the test. I texted her something like “Sleep well 🙂”. She didn’t say anything back. I decided to wait until the next day and see if she would say hi or something.
Alright fuck you too I guess. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder what the fuck had happened. I would find out the answer to that about six months later. For six months, the last message in our texts was that “Sleep well 🙂” I had sent.
The next part will be out soon, I hope 🤞. There are two of these left.