Monday, September 17, 2007

Hammer To Fall

Toe your line and play their game yeah
Let the anesthetic cover it all
Till one day they call your name
You know its time for the hammer to fall
Queen, “Hammer To Fall” from The Works album

On Friday, I got in my car and pointed it north. I would be heading to the town of Walker, MN, to run in my very first marathon, the Walker North Country Marathon.

Walker sits on the shores of Leech Lake, the third largest lake in the state. It is a majestic body of water that is known far and wide for its muskie fishing. The area is gorgeous with a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees, as well as abundant wildlife. This is one of Minnesota’s prime fishing and vacation destinations.

Leech Lake on a windy day

The Walker North Country Marathon route is comprised of a mix of streets, highways, dirt roads, bike paths, and hiking trails, all winding their way through the Chippewa National Forest, so it was bound to be a challenge. It was fun to see the event was finally here after a busy summer of training, and I was extremely excited for the race.

But before we get to that...

Rarely on my blog have I ever talked in any great detail about work and my job. Mainly that is because this blog is intended to be about all the fun things that happen outside of work! :) However, in this case I need to discuss it to provide a proper context for the weekend.

The company I currently work (which will remain nameless...many of you know who it is, anyhow) has been performing poorly, and has endured a number of huge setbacks (some market-driven, others brought upon ourselves) over the past year or so. Consequently, they are losing money hand over fist.

Over the last week of August, an e-mail went out to all employees announcing that they were going to be doing some “headcount reductions” (a clever, PC way of saying “layoffs”) before year’s end, and that these reductions would be significant. None of the powers-that-be have given an official number, but all the rumors are pointing towards a number that would indeed be significant. Positively jarring, in fact.

In a meeting with our director last week, we received a speech that was without fluff and very much to the point, and it doesn’t sound like anyone in my group would be immune to these “reductions.” Bottom line; if the rumors are true, I figured there is a 1 in 5 chance I am going to lose my job before the year is over with.

One thing that I have learned from running is that you never have to settle for anything or be satisfied with the status quo. YOU have the power to make changes in your life. I originally started running to lose some weight and get back into some sort of respectable level of fitness, and now I am off to attempt my first marathon. So if I am to take that lesson to heart, that means when the CEO of my company tells me that the hammer is going to fall and I could possibly be canned (even though none of this is any fault of my own), it is OK to say, “You know what? This is complete B.S. I’m going to find a new job!”

Shortly after that e-mail was received, I reached out to a friend of mine who works at a small company, basically just looking for some ideas. His organization is in the same industry as mine, but they come at it from a different angle. This company was founded by former colleagues of mine, people I have enormous respect for, from the very first job I landed when I moved to the Twin Cities. It was kind of a shot in the dark, really, but what did I have to lose?

His response? “Send me your resume.”

A few days go by, and on Monday, Sept. 10th, I got an e-mail from a person in HR at this company asking me to give her a call. I did so, we discussed a few things, and much to my bewilderment, I had an interview scheduled for Friday.

Friday I had already taken as a vacation day with the intent to travel up to Walker, so I arranged to have the interview in the morning. I met with three different people over a period of two hours. When that was done, I found myself chatting with the company President in his office (he was one of the people I worked with years ago). Overall, I was pleased with how the interviews went. I thought I did a good job selling myself and my skills. Perhaps if all the people I talked to liked me, then maybe I would hear something in the next week or so once they decided how to fill the position.

And with that, I was off. Ran home, stopped for lunch, gassed up the car, and hit the road for Walker.

At about 2:30 in the afternoon, I am on Highway 371 near Fort Ripley in central Minnesota when my cell phone rings. It was one of the people I interviewed with earlier in the morning. We exchange pleasantries, and then she says the following:

“I am calling to offer you the job.”

Now, when you are looking to make some changes in your life that will hopefully lead to better financial stability and upward mobility, is there a sweeter phrase to hear? I was astonished that this was happening, and only a few hours after my interview, no less. They wanted me that much! In fact, in talking to one of my references today, I learned that she was contacted minutes after I had left the building, so the wheels were in motion that quickly. It so happens the people that I had enormous respect for also felt the same way about me.

I had one hand on the wheel and one on the phone, but internally, I was doing a wild-ass, Tiger Woods-esque fist pump like he does when he sinks a huge putt. Without hesitation, I accepted the job on the spot while cruising up the road at 70 MPH heading deep into the North Country! I couldn’t wait to call my parents to share the good news.

The “Kitchen Sink” combo pizza at the Village Square; a great way to celebrate!

My day was capped off by celebrating in my own style; by downing a delicious “Kitchen Sink” pizza at the Village Square in downtown Walker! (!) My head was positively spinning over all of the events that transpired in such a short amount of time. This was the fastest job search I have ever had, and I can't believe how everything came together. The hammer will not fall on me anytime soon. Absolutely incredible.

I suppose I could have just summed up the last several paragraphs and saved you a whole bunch of reading by simply saying “I GOT A NEW JOB!!!” But I felt it was somewhat significant to share all of the details since...

Oh yeah, I still have to run my first marathon in the morning, don’t I? :)

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