Friday morning, 5:15. “Are you awake?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said, “because you’ve been tossing and turning all night.”
Silence. And then: “I think I need to quit my job today.”
In 3 1/2 years, I had never really been happy there; I’d taken the job not because I wanted to do the work, but because the job was in Madison. I worked with a wonderful group of people, and I was being paid quite literally more money than we could spend. But the work itself was tedious and unsatisfying. I had stopped giving a damn about it at least a year before, but I was clever enough to fake my way along, keeping up a facade of being engaged and proactive. But even that was beginning to slip, and I was spending my days mired in misery. (It was during this time that I started blogging—on company time—to kill the long afternoons when I either had nothing to do, or nothing that I wanted to do.)
October was annual evaluation time. On a Monday, I was asked to write a self-evaluation to be used in the session with my supervisor—but my various attempts to write it during the succeeding days kept coming out like a resignation letter. On Thursday, a major project on which I had spent several months was very publicly shot down by one of the company’s top-ranking officers, in front of a lot of people. Which brought us to Friday morning at 5:15. By 6:00, The Mrs. and I had figured it out. I knew some people from whom I thought I could get freelance work, so we decided to risk it.
On Fridays, I had a regular weekly one-on-one with my supervisor, a kind and intelligent woman who was in no wise responsible for my unhappiness—only on this day, she wanted to postpone it until Monday. I knew that if I didn’t quit that day, I wouldn’t, so I convinced her to give me 10 minutes at 2:30. At 2:25, 2:27, 2:29, I sat in my cubicle going back and forth. Was I being hasty, or was this the right thing to do? Even as I closed the door of the conference room, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to say—but the first thing that came out of my mouth was “I’m here to give you my two weeks’ notice.”
That decision was like leaping off a diving board in the dark and hoping there’s water in the pool—and as it turned out, there was. The water has stayed in the pool for eight years now. It’s just another example of the way fate has packed so many of the best and worst moments of my life into the month of October.
This October I will not have a lot to say that’s new. I continue to be swimming in remunerative labor, as I’ve been since late August. That’s good for me and the people I owe money to, but not so good for the readership. I set up our ongoing series of repeat posts as much for me as for you—to keep me from writing here for free when I need to be clocking billable hours. Fortunately, the seven previous Octobers of this blog’s life yield a decent harvest of reading material, some of which I’ll repeat here. Watch the “Real Stupid in Real Time” feed on the right for tweets pointing up other posts from the archives, including a boatload of “One Day in Your Life” posts. I intend to write new posts when I can, but as was the case in September, I’m not sure how often that will be.
On the flip, a couple of October hits from my Desert Island list.
This week in 1970, Three Dog Night’s “Out in the Country” was at Number 24 on the Hot 100, right between “Indiana Wants Me” and “Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma,” up from 30 the week before.
This week in 1972, “Everybody Plays the Fool” by the Main Ingredient was at Number 6, right between “Ben” and “Go All the Way,” up from 7 the week before. It would eventually get to Number Three. Here it is, as performed on Soul Train.