Monday, August 28, 2006

Fly-By-Night Inc.

For the first time in my relatively short career, I am shitting bricks. Here's the situation. Over a year and a half ago I began working for a startup company. This was the kind of flashy, venture capital driven company that epitomized the dot-com era. Well, except this company wasn't a web company, it wasn't California, and it wasn't the dot-com era. But they did seem to have more money than sense; after offering me a job on my first visit (notice I did not say interview) and telling me to name my own price, what could I say but "sign me up!" For me there was also the tremendous benefit that I could jump from the sinking ship that I had been clinging to for the previous four years and I got to work with my best buddy J. again. They also had a break room filled with snacks, delicious snacks! What could go wrong?

Megalomaniacal and otherwise sketchy management for one. Excessive marketing spending might have also been a factor. But in the end, this is what I signed up for. The ride has been fun.

Oh, forgot to mention one important bit of info. My company is out of cash! When I get back from Ohio next week, they will be a full three pay periods behind on payroll. For those keeping score, that's well over ten percent of my annual income.

I have not had a lapse in income in my entire career. This is where the brick-shitting comes into play. Don't get me wrong -- I do not live paycheck to paycheck and the bank accounts are relatively healthy (remember, I picked my own salary), but what I'm not used to is the balances going in the other direction. I've always thought "I could live for x number of months on my savings." But now I'm thinking, "if I live for x number of months on my savings, I will have zero dollars to my name." Since when do I see half-empty glasses?

But the money issue is bullshit anyway. The real issue here is that my hand is being forced. I don't want a new job. I don't want to work on my resume. I don't want to push the flesh and make phone calls. I don't want an account on monster-dot-com. I don't want to make less money. I don't want to work for a big company. And I don't want to have to sign up for another tour of duty in Utah. I can make money, but I am apparently now a snob about it.

From the beginning, I had planned to ride this company out. I knew it was sketchy; I knew the management was certifiable; I knew the money could run out. But dammit, I wanted it to go down my way. Oh no, sister, you're not breaking up with ME!

So here I am at a big mother effin' crossroads. There are no more snacks in the break room. Gotta do something. Gotta make it count. Let's lay out the choices...

  1. Ride it out. I can stay put, keep my mouth shut, and hope like hell that I will once again get to suckle the sweet tit of venture capital. Management has promised that the money is coming. When I heard that a few weeks ago, I began holding my breath. I haven't died yet, but holy crap am I getting dizzy.
  2. Quit. This would likely lead to me getting zero dollars of my back pay. "Pennies on the dollar" has been the rallying cry for how to deal with vendors with whom we are delinquent. That sentiment will surely apply to me once I cease rendering services to the company.
  3. Start a company. J. and I have an idea and maybe enough capital between us to make a go of it. Can't elaborate on the idea here, but let it suffice to say that it is TOTALLY FUCKING AWESOME!
  4. Contract. I've taken gigs on the side before. I did one last week. I could do more. If only they fell in my lap every week.
  5. Go postal. I don't own any firearms, but I have a clean record and could obtain something pretty sweet. Unfortunately, I don't think my enthusiasm would last through the mandatory waiting period. [sidenote: I was actually at the post office today. There was a clerk there who looked so utterly saddened by his life as a postal worker that I am sure that if we pulled down his pants we would see hundreds of little marks on his legs where he cut himself in an effort to remember what it is like to feel alive.]
  6. Change careers. Hmmm, am I good at anything else? I used to be a pretty good baseball umpire. I have been building experience dealing with homeless, drunk, meth-addicted, transvestite, and otherwise hungry residents of Salt Lake; is that marketable?
  7. Go to school. I have considered this one in the past. I even went as far as taking the GRE subject test. If only academic bullshit didn't make me grind my teeth, experience nausea, and want to kick small children. I could handle maybe two of those, but not all three. Maybe it's time to swallow hard and go get degree number two. I have heard that chicks going for advanced degrees in computer science are h-h-h-hot. I actually did hear that, but it was from my buddy Ji. who is a c.s. professor who spends much of his free time living in a fantasy world.
  8. Get another job. Ooooh goody goody goody, can I can I can I work for you. Your company is so awesome. I want to help you guys make money. Sure, three days of vacation per year is okay! Can I lick your dog's asshole clean on my days off? I can't wait to work for you for seventeen years, then all ten of my stock options will be vested! Oh boy, oh boy, I sure would like to meet all of my new mormon coworkers! Do any of them have jack mormon daughters (preferably h-h-h-hot with an advanced computer science degree)? Yeah, sharing a cube with Larry will be no problem; my sense of smell really isn't very good and he's such a super guy otherwise.
There they are. Seems like a complete list. These are not mutually exclusive, of course. Some likely scenarios include 1+3+8, 1+3+4, 6+7+8, and 2+5. The common thread is that these all add up to me having to get off my ass and do something about my situation. Time to polish that resume. [barf]

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