Ground Rush

It’s Monday, but for me it’s the middle of week two (weak, too?) of six in the, “oh, crap, they eliminated my job, now what,” fun-filled fun fest. If you’re tuning in late, here’s chapter one of the story.  So far I’ve applied for a dozen different positions, had two interviews and have another one scheduled tomorrow.

Given that The Company seems fine with the idea of losing my 33 years experience (and over 35 years of software expertise), I’m very tempted to just consider the retirement options.  They aren’t what I’d hoped for, but… well, we’ll see.

I mentioned before that, if the clock does run out on this, it would be just in time for my birthday.  Turns out, if I don’t find another position within TC, my last day at work would, in fact, be my birthday.

Happy Birthday to me!

So, as I also mentioned, it’s been quite an emotional rollercoaster. Feelings of, “Oh, no! (I’m outta work!)” mixing with feelings of, “Oh, boy! (No more work!)”

Funny thing is (and speaking of eliminations), it’s completely eliminated the overwhelming sense of ennui I’ve had for almost a year. I’ve been, as Steve Martin put it in L.A. Story, (one of my favorite films ever) “Bored Beyond Belief.” In an email update to friends and family, I wrote, “My feelings still ping-pong wildly back and forth among optimistic, murderous, calm and damn-near suicidal. Oddly, I haven’t felt this alive in years. It’s not terribly unlike jumping out of a plane, and we all know how much I loved that!

Which brings us to this post. This isn’t the first time I’ve been on a desperate hunt for a new position within TC. The same thing happened back in 2004, when they closed my entire department.  That time I had 60 days to find a new position.  That time I got a soft offer (“I think I can hire you.”) on day 58 and a firm offer on day 59.  (Ironically, then two other people I’d interviewed with decided they wanted me, too.  Rains, pours.)

Such a narrow escape deserved commemoration, so I wrote the following text, which I have fished out my archives to share with you now.  I wrote this after the soft offer (on day 58), but before it was confirmed (on day 59). I’ve made a few small edits here and there.

Ground Rush

Bear with me for a little drama…

A skydive consists of two parts: free fall and the canopy ride.

During free fall—which starts as soon as you step out of the plane—Mother Earth pulls you to her bosom just as fast as gravity and wind resistance will allow.  About 120 miles per hour in the average case.

The canopy ride occurs once your chute opens (if it opens), and during the canopy ride, you fly around like a little glider plane enjoying the view and the quiet.  (The 120 MPH free fall is noisy!)

You usually exit the aircraft anywhere from 10,000 to 14,500 feet, spend the first 10 seconds (and 1000 feet) going from 0 to 120 MPH.  At that point, wind resistance balances out Mom’s pull, and the sensation of falling stops.  You’re just “flying” and there’s this awesome, astounding 120 MPH wind rushing up at you.

Therefore, at high altitude, there’s no sensation of falling.  You are too high to notice the ground coming up at you.  The change from 9000 feet to 8000 feet (six seconds of free fall time) just doesn’t change your view that much.

But at some altitude—and it’s different for everyone—you do begin to detect the ground rushing towards you.  You can actually see things getting bigger.  Skydivers call this, “ground rush.”

When they announced the closing of our department back in early March, they—in a sense—kicked us out of the plane.  And at that point, the “ground” seemed pretty far away.  Plenty of time to enjoy the view and open your parachute… eventually.

Well, the days sped by, not unlike how the air zips by at the sky-eating pace of 1000 feet every six seconds.  (If you open your chute at 2000 feet—the minimum for experienced skydivers—you have about 12 seconds of life left, and at that point the ground rush is very pronounced!)

This week—with Friday my last day—I’ve had a profound sense of ground rush.  I could actually feel Friday speeding towards me!

And today, with 2 days—with only 2000 feet of air left—my chute finally deployed.

Through what can only be called an eleventh-hour miracle, I was offered—and accepted—a job with the CRM/Siebel group.  And the funny part is that they were my top pick, my top hope.

Skydivers have another term: snivel.

Once your chute deploys, it takes some amount of time for it to unfold from the bag, catch the air and get around to the business of saving your life.  This is called snivel.  Some like a lot of snivel, because it slows down the process of going from 120 MPH to about 5 MPH.  Others want it over with soon.  Snivel can be a heart-stopping (or at least heart-racing) time: there are deployment errors (“mals”) that prevent the chute from doing its job.

There are still a few things to be ironed out, so my “chute” is in snivel mode right now.  It’s possible this won’t work out!  But it looks good, it feels good, and I think it’s gonna be fine.  I should be gliding in for a landing in the next day or so.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the canopy ride.  Suddenly the view looks very, very sweet.  I feel like I’ve taken my first breath all week.


Turns out that job was one of the better ones I had at TC. Reading, editing and posting this tale sure brought back some memories.  I hope you enjoyed reading it!

Skydivers have a saying, “Once you exit the aircraft, you’re dead. It’s up to you to save your life.” That’s where I am right now.

Dead… and working on saving my (work) life.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

2 responses to “Ground Rush

  • minnesotatransplant

    This post reminds me of a quote I like: “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it,” by Eckhart Tolle. I don’t think ground rush sounds like a good thing, but if you’re going to be rushing the ground, you might as well do it with your eyes open, I think. Hang in there.

  • Reflections: Work & Change « Logos con carne

    […] be the fullness of a career. It seemed like it might be a good companion piece to the recent post, Ground Rush, so here it is for your dining and dancing […]

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