To be a successful contractor, I have to do a whole lot of schmoozing and deal-making and job-estimating, and a smaller amount of actual, technical work. These two pursuits are very different. They exercise different parts of my brain. I have been spending so much time on the former that I am finding it difficult to transition to the latter. At the moment, I don’t have enough technical juice to make decent progress on one gig, let alone two. So I chickened out. The Calgary job is not quittable, the Berkeley job is, the decision is made for me.
I felt horrible, having to email the Berkeley guy to tell him I couldn’t do his job after all. I fibbed a little bit and said that, all things being equal, I’d rather work on his stuff. Not true; I find both jobs about equally technically challenging. I also said that I have an ongoing relationship with the contractor company, that they get me a lot of leads, and I can’t afford for that situation to turn sour. All very true. The Berkeley guy was totally gracious about it. He said I should contact him again when and if I am free to work with him. I don’t think I burned that bridge.
I’ve now had quite a few conversations with my new boss in Calgary. I think I am back to genuinely liking him again. He is often frustrating, but his heart is in the right place. He is making a genuine effort to find the discipline to do the right things with his company, rather than just going with his (likely flawed) gut feeling on everything. He makes “evidence-based decisions,” as he puts it. The part I find frustrating is that he goes so far with this that it is bordering on religion. He has locked on to a recent book written by one of the leading lights in the startup community as his own personal bible, and he has insisted that I read it. Okay, fine, I will, but I’m already a little turned off, due to the religious aspect. And he is often not respectful of my time. That’s a real pet peeve of mine.
In this phase of my life, I have pretty stringent ideas about what constitutes a good job. I don’t want to work in anybody’s office. I don’t want to commute. In fact, I want to be able to work from wherever I damn well please, anywhere with an internet connection. And I want to be able to take a couple of hours off in the afternoon, so I can go for a walk. Give me that much, and I will work my got-dammed ASS off for whoever fulfills my conditions. I am a strong B+ player. I can get more done than 80 percent of the world’s techies. I thought I was an A player, until I spent a year in the Bay Area. Now I know my limitations.
I am pretty close to getting there. Pretty got-dammed close. If I can finally solve the problem of keeping money coming in without sacrificing my ever-loving soul, then I can start working on higher-level goals in my life.