Yet Another New Chapter

Wow, it has been a minute since I last wrote anything. I won’t apologize for it – my life has been fairly hectic over the last year involving a divorce and moving to a new state in the middle whatever hellscape our current global condition is – but it is notable. I’m going to try and write more regularly and I think the change that I’m about to talk about will help.

It’s my last day at Spreedly today. We had some recent layoffs that felt like a last straw in a cultural shift that had been coming to a head for a while. Many of my friends had already left, taking their extensive knowledge with them, and many of my other friends were considering their options. It felt like the right time.

Not that Spreedly is a horrible company or anything. If anything, it’s somewhat above average for a tech company – great pay, decent benefits, lots of flexibility and autonomy. But if I’m being honest, I feel like the tech industry as a whole is lacking in some really fundamental areas and “above average” just isn’t cutting it for me anymore.

Soapbox break

There’s this belief in the tech industry that somehow speed is more important than quality when it comes to building a product. Everyone is so worried about their competition that they really don’t stop to question whether or not their customers truly have what it takes to succeed. Support and Documentations teams are chronically underfunded, engineering teams are so swamped that they can’t talk to other teams to promote cross-pollination of knowledge, product teams are being pushed to put out features to land new clients before having the chance to get feedback from all stakeholders on the product. It’s a madhouse out here!

I just don’t get it. All of this fierce competition – both between people and between companies – is manufactured. Resources aren’t scarce in this industry. The pie is big enough for all of us and we can make a bigger pie if it’s not. So, like, chill. Ignore the Venture Capitalists and their demands. Or at least push back enough to set better, healthier expectations. We can all move at a healthier pace and society will be better off for it.

You want to talk about reducing violence in society? Reduce the pace of life. Think about how stressed out you are when you’re in a hurry, about how much tension you hold. Think about how angry you get when someone else rushes you. You get flustered, you make mistakes, things take longer than they would have if you were able to just slow down and focus. Now multiply that feeling by every single person that you meet. Think about how those tensions rise when multiple stressed out people are crammed together. It’s no wonder that our society is popping off like a pressure cooker ready to blow!

Life is stressful enough on its own. We don’t need help making it more stressful.

As a side note, this applies double for anyone who make service industry folk suffer. Asshole customers, exploitive corporations, horrible managers and franchise owners – y’all suck and are a large part of what’s wrong with this world. If y’all were better at treating people like humans, this whole fucking world would be a better place. FFS

Looking to the future

In any case, I honestly didn’t intend this to be a rant. It makes sense that my frustrations are at the forefront of my mind right now with it being my last day but I’m more interested in talking about the future.

I’m taking the next couple of days off to have a bit of a break between jobs. I’d honestly love more of a break but with everything that’s happened this year, I’m feeling a little broke and decided to compromise with myself. Two days is still better than my usual!

Tomorrow, Ashe and I plan to go to this farm and exotic petting zoo that’s supposed to be about an hour and a half away from us. I don’t remember what all animals they’re supposed to have other than maybe wallabies but the thing I’m most excited for are these apple cider donut ice cream sundae things that look absolutely delicious. (I’m a very simple person – I love food and this is a combination of some of my favorites.)

Then on Friday, our neighbor Kurt is supposed to come over in the morning to help us dig some post holes for the garden fence that Ashe has been planning since the beginning of summer. I’ve really never done a project of this size before and I’m definitely a bit intimidated. But this isn’t Kurt’s first rodeo by any means and he’s always a ton of help, so I’m looking forward to it.

I figure the worst thing that might happen is that he looks at where we want to put the fence and he tells us that we need to do some more work leveling out the land first and we make a plan to do it at some point. We honestly didn’t have a lot of deer damage this year or anything. The fence is something we want more than need so far.

Honestly, the biggest benefit I’ll get from constructing the fence now is that we’ll have more space in the garage for working on projects. That being said, the garage isn’t insulated and it’s already getting pretty darn cold here in Michigan. I don’t know how many projects I’ll be getting up to even if we brought out a space heater. I might be more inclined to do projects around the inside of the house near our fireplace. It’s not like there’s not enough to do.

On Monday, I’ll start my new job as a Support Engineer with WordPress VIP.

Since I’ve been frustrated with the tech industry, I considered trying to just make it as a new media artist or as some sort of content creator but I don’t have the greatest track record of creating anything with consistency or cultivating an audience. I’m fine with that as an artist (or at least I’ve come to accept it somewhat) but it’s not a foundation of stability for a single-income household which we currently are.

I also considered getting something local to try to reboot my career doing something a little more physical like working at a garden center or becoming a carpenter. However, between the flexibility and freedom of remote work being too important to me and not having an established personal network in the area, I knew it would be difficult to find something that would fit my needs.

So for about the billionth time in my career, I opened up the Automattic Job Board to see what they had available. This time, I finally had the guts to apply.

It’s always been a dream of mine to work for Automattic. I started out my freelance career back in the day building custom WordPress sites for individuals which helped me leave my dead-end help center job. Then when I started my career in customer support by joining Support Driven, it was the folks from Automattic that helped me learn more about remote and asynchronous work. They even went as far as to help me craft a resume to land my first remote job at GitHub. Many of those people are still there and even some of my friends who left had nothing but amazing things to say about the company.

I thought it would be a moonshot (as I can still barely believe this is happening despite the welcome package next to me) but I figured that if I was already considering leaving tech, I didn’t really have anything to lose by applying. Worst case scenario, I don’t make it and I go back to the drawing board of how to make a living as an artist. Best case scenario, Automattic lives up to all of its hype, I learn how they’ve been able to retain so many of my friends for so long, and maybe I find a company where I can fit for a good long while.

Turns out that it wasn’t as much of a moonshot as I thought though! As rusty as my WordPress skills are at the time, the interview team like my groove enough to have me come on board and I’m very excited.

Here’s to yet another new chapter in my life – let’s make it a great one!

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