The old job was an adventure, to be sure. On the one hand, they usually sent me to Europe for two weeks every year, gratis.
On the other hand, the other fifty weeks of the year were an endless cavalcade of annoyance, humiliation and overwork.
We once benchmarked our Web programs against those at peer institutions, and found that in all cases, even those at which there was less to do, my job was performed by a minimum of six full-time employees. I asked whether I might be allowed to have a student aide, at a rate of $7.50 an hour, for five hours a week. They said no.I should have seen it coming. My second round of interviews took place on September 12, 2001. I called the office on September 11, just after the World Trade Center collapsed, and asked what I should do. "Oh," the HR rep chirped, "It's business as usual around here. We aren't even letting people go home unless they take vacation. Chicago didn't get hit."
But I needed a steady income to escape from Mr. Ex, so I grit my teeth and signed on.
The new job is at the same university, but in a different division. To my unbridled joy, it isn't a Web design position. I'll be writing, I'll be editing, I'll be art directing and playing with photographs. In the university hierarchy, it's a lateral move, not a promotion. I don't care. It's exactly what I wanted: a step towards my ultimate goal of being a person to whom the sentence, "The database is down" means nothing.
And you helped. When they asked about my writing abilities, I pointed them here. I do believe the fact that 2,000 of you stop in once a day to see if I've written anything helped to convince them I could produce snappy copy for the magazine. Thank you.
My final duty last night was to photograph the fiftieth reunion alumni being robed and capped for commencement. It was a sweet way to end things. They were all wonderful people, in high spirits, genuinely happy to be back and to see each other. When they lined up to join the procession into the stadium, I handed off to another photographer who was assigned to shoot the ceremony, then said goodbye to my colleagues–who were suddenly my former colleagues.
And as I walked away, alone, the university band began to play "Pomp and Circumstance."
I laughed all the way home.