Friday, October 5, 2007

Run-Run-Run Away

The cluster of tall buildings I was about to enter looked imposing and dominated a whole neighborhood in a Washington suburb. Inside, everything asserted wealth and might, from the security guards looking razor-sharp in their smart uniforms to the plush carpet and elegant furniture in the lobby. I gave my name to the receptionist, received a visitor's badge, and was invited to sit in a comfortable armchair while waiting for my escort.

A tall, smiling man came to meet me, his hand extended for a shake. I followed him across the spacious lobby to a bank of shiny elevators. Soon I found myself taken to the seventh floor, guided to a posh conference room and greeted by another man. We had a good long chat about the job, about my personal background and professional experiences, all the standard fare expected at a job interview.

These two managers were not bad, I considered. Mark was game while Rick tended to play safe, but they were both sensible, and there was unmistakably a warm understanding between us. Then I came with Rick for a tour of the facility, and that was when I had a complete change of heart.

The sterile corridors led me past offices and cubicles where Indian tech workers could be seen toiling their souls away in front of computers, and I felt seized by a strong revulsion. The familiar sight immediately reminded me of ruthlessly long hours leaving little room for a life, the frantic pressure from an incompetent management faced with a deadline with nothing to show, the game of taking the credit and passing the blame played by scheming individuals. This was the life I had left in disgust to protect my sanity, so why come back now?

The problem with me was that I forgot too quickly. This place might not be so bad, but when quitting my last job I had been determined to steer my life to another direction. Rick continued to give me the tour, unaware of what was going in my mind. He proudly showed me their lab with racks of expensive sophisticated equipment, and I uttered the proper sounds and posed the right questions, but my heart was not in it any more.

We shook hands at the security desk in the lobby. Rick warmly and confidently said he would see me again. Sorry Rick, that wouldn't happen. The next day when they called and asked me to come back to discuss the terms, I politely declined and told them an urgent matter required my presence in New York, which incidentally was true, but the entire truth was that I was running away from what I had come for.

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