About a month ago I got a call from a friend and former co-worker of mine. He’d left our company for greener pastures (a new job, same industry). He liked his job and wanted me to join him. He knew I planned to leave my job as soon as my 2-year contract ended.
I declined. I didn’t explain to him the BNL philosophy or my financial independence, just that I was done working for others as an engineer.
It felt good. Kind of.
A few days later, he emailed me and convinced me to just send my resume to see what would happen. He really loved his job, the project and the team. And seeing that it was a small office of 3 people, he thought I might enjoy it. He knew I liked to work from coffee shops and from home, and confirmed that this would be OK for this job also. I caved, and sent in my resume.
Fast forward a week, and I’m sitting at a bar with my buddy and the hiring manager over a beer. We talked about the job and I must admit, it sounded pretty good. But then again, most things usually do sound good when someone is selling it to you (and paying for the beers). I agreed to an interview in Boulder (where the larger office is) and they offered to drive me since they knew I didn’t have a car.
The interviews apparently went well, since I left with a job offer. A 6-figure salary, work from “wherever”, no required travel, and a challenging job that most engineers in my position would drool over.
After the interviews ended at 2pm, I was ready to go. But since I carpooled, I had to wait for some other meetings to end. So I sat in a small room, and surfed online. Fortunately I figured this might happen, so I brought my laptop. An hour passed. Then 2. Finally, they stopped by to tell me everything went great and that I would be getting a formal offer in the next few days. Then the VP, who I had interviewed with, stopped by and wanted to talk to my local Colorado Springs friends a little more about the project before I left. Another hour passed. At this point, I was texting my wife to apologize because I had promised to be home by 6pm to watch the kids while she left for some other commitments. 6pm came and went. My friend apologized, and explained that this happened almost every time he made the trip to Boulder.
It was at this point I wondered, “why am I here?” This lack of respect for other people’s time is exactly why I don’t want to work in this environment anymore. I respect that the VP wanted to capitalize on the occasion of having some of his guys in town in Boulder, but I had my own personal agenda to get home. I waited, and waited, and waited a bit more. My wife eventually took the kids to our neighbors.
On the drive home, I decided I would turn the job down. Not because it wasn’t a great opportunity, but because I realized it was no longer for me. The next day, I wrote the hiring manager an email to decline the job.
I couldn’t hit send.
3 days passed. I still hadn’t hit send, but I decided to text my buddy to tell him I was going to turn down the job. He was bummed, but understood. Then he asked me out of curiosity if the salary offer was too low. I laughed when I received that text, because it was the first time I realized I hadn’t even opened the pdf file to see what the salary offer was.
Still, I hadn’t hit send.
Lucky for all of us, we have smart and sane people like Mr. Money Mustache to punch us in the face and remind us that life is not just about going to work and making money until we die.
— Mr. Money Mustache (@mrmoneymustache) April 14, 2013
Another day passed, and I finally hit send. It only took 4 days and a few shots of whiskey. I felt relieved that Sunday morning.
Then Monday came, and I got an email from the hiring manager. He wanted to talk for “just a few minutes.” Ugh…
I didn’t know what he wanted, but I assumed it was to try to convince me to take the job. Before I called him back, I just remember thinking “I’m NOT that good! Why are you still trying to hire me?” Eventually we talked, and I confirmed to him that I’m not interested right now. I explained that I wanted some time away from engineering, and that it wouldn’t be good for either of us if I joined them and wasn’t fully committed. He understood, but made it a point to explain how this was disappointing to him, and put him in a bind because he thought he had the position filled. I felt bad, which I suppose is what he wanted.
An hour passed. I still felt bad. Not for me, but for the hiring manager and my friend – because I had disappointed them. Then I got in the car to run an errand, and turned on some music. The next thing you know, I’m totally out of character and blasting some pop music and singing at the top of my lungs like Tommy and Richard.
That’s when I knew I had made the right decision. Life was good. I don’t need the money, and I don’t want the job. The world is too beautiful to waste it away worrying about trace impedances and S-parameters, filling out performance reviews, all while sitting under halogen lighting in a 6’x6′ cubicle.
Yep, the world is too beautiful and I’m ready to enjoy it.