Posted on July 11, 2013
One day I received a very interesting job opportunity from a startup company. Everything sound interesting, job was a good match for me, so I accepted to sustain the interview. I was tested with all types of silly questions stolen from companies like Google and Apple (the biggest producers of interviews kind of “A beautiful mind”; I think you are familiar with most known interview questions like: “How Many golf balls fit in an airplane?”, “You have a 100 coins laying flat on a table, each with a head side and a tail side. 10 of them are heads up, 90 are tails up. You can’t feel, see or in any other way find out which side is up. Split the coins into two piles such that there are the same number of heads in each pile.“).
Fortunately, I passed all their “tricky” questions, which I must admit it was a surprise for me and I got an offer. Things went contrary to my expectations, because the company owners were so excited about my profile, they surpass my salary expectancy. Everything was perfect. Moreover, they invited me at the restaurant to negotiate the terms of contract…
-Wow! you are the only one who solved our trap problems!
-Honestly, it’s a surprise to me as well… In my mind: if you would know I was semi-drunk while solve the problems, probably you would be very disappointed… Or maybe not, because my employers seemed not too bothered to negotiate in a steam of alcohol, and moreover, one of the owners is “a long race drinker“… After a few glasses of vodka and beer, we start telling stories more or less strange: how our professors encourage us to get vodka shots before olympics physics exam in order to have courage, how they got drunk in the army in order to survive the frosts of -30 degrees, etc. I must admit was the first time I negotiate with my head full of beer and the whole thing took me a bit by surprise.
We all feel great, everything looks smeared and I obtain o good offer, but nothing official or other formal signed documents. The next day, in a childish enthusiasm, the moment I reach to office, I resign from the company. I make official announcement of dismissal, without telling anybody my real motivation, but I make up the perfect coverage… The company’s owners were disappointed. But I ignored all these aspects and moral implications… because now I daydream about the future. Over several days, I wake up to reality and I ask my future employers an official signed offer. When I receive the pre-contract, I realize that the financial offer is a little bit different from what we discussed. I ask questions: -How can I be sure I will get the money I want, if the objectives listed in the signed contract are not clear yet? Well you see… that and this and that… and suddenly I realize the offer is not what I hoped. Amid mutual disbelief, my future employers withdrew their offer. With my resignation on the table and without another offer, I become unemployed. I felt stupid, literally and figuratively. For the first time in my life I regretted that I passed that stupid technical interview that many have failed. Couldn’t I be a little more dumb, so I wouldn’t have been able to pass that interview?
I tried to analyze what I did wrong? I could invoke inattention, misfortune, fate, but it was nothing but about human greed that ruined me (the job offer offered almost twice as earned, so was very tempting). I was simply blinded by the money and the position they offered me, so I have risked everything. This is one of the lessons I had to learn with great losses.
This event happened in early summer, when all employers are going on vacation. In the same time, another nasty event happened to me, as my wife threatened me to divorce so I am passing a difficult time. But for the first time in my life, I feel everything has a logic. My wife is a little scared of my counterproductive and detached attitude. I was very confident that everything has happened with a reason, not by chance, so I didn’t worry: I stayed for a month at home as a true luxury unemployed, with beer in hand, in front of the TV, watching every tennis match since Roland Garros or Wimbledon. During this time I have searched for a job, but without success for all local employers were away on holiday… So I got to see my of mine: I played with the boys in the park, practicing yoga and meditations, I was invited to a couple of interviews in Europe, during which I visited several cities with the sponsorship of the corporations; in a sentence: I felt great!
About four years ago, back when I worked in a corporation, if I would have something like this happen, I think I was crazy for fear uncertainty of tomorrow. Now that I have so much experience (startups companies with financial problems, difficult people, etc.) I am very calm. A little too calm I would say, yet the parameters …
Now that I have a job and I burned my career, I thought to spend some time at my in-laws where I left my kids in the summer. I would have liked to stay at my in-laws because they live in the countryside, in a landscape forgotten by the world, many forests, clean air, but I dared not stay too long at them because they have to give explanations what their neighbors because I have so much free time, from what cause I was out of work and to spare them embarrassment I decided to make myself invisible. In a community so small as theirs, it knows what you ate for lunch. My in-laws house is in a unique picturesque area, forgotten by time, very archaic in my laptop only remember that we live in the 21st century, otherwise it looks like 100 years ago:
I did not enjoy the staying at my parents-in-law too much for they prowled me like turkeys, worried about my job situation and interrogating me: Have the employers contacted you? It was better if you haven’t left the job… and all they did made me feel like a burden. Shortly after my arrival, I had to leave them and I went to my mother, who sits just 20 km from my parents-in-law.
Returning to my family home, I thought to visit some places that they had seen when I was in primary school. One of these places is the lake where I was fishing with Vasilica, my friend fisherman. This wonderful place, which 25 years ago was a magical place for any fisherman, with acacia blossom smelly, where you can catch two fishes with only one hook, now becomes swampy, overgrown with grass and reed. I believe no one has stepped here for a long time, maybe since I was very young. In a sense, I am walking on the footsteps of my childhood, I am time-traveling back in time for real. This place always captivated me: the trees, the fishing, the ritual we spent to prepare fishing tools, the bait and habitual breakfast just before the sun rise. Very interesting that these past memories remained alive in me for so long time: even the smell of the dry grass, of the water, the look of the meadows. I sat and thought about how effective can be the mechanism of human memory? Just a simple breeze, a color, a sound can bring to life in a split second, an infinite number of images of past decades, which you did not know you still have. How fast is our associative memory? I thought the human mind, similar to a computer with limited memory, the information is overwritten in time and in time can not be recovered. But it seems that doesn’t happen with the human brain. Although memories are stored in the form of chemical compounds and connections of neurons, and they are subject to degradation over time, as well as in digital computer, in the human brain, it appears that the information can be recovered even if it was overwritten / deleted (my opinion is that those chemicals that keeps the memories, are storing information somehow in a redundant form or in a form that allows recovery through self-correction, despite the disintegration of chemical molecular bonds). For those who have studied computer science this should sound familiar. The communication protocols generally have info sequences (arrays of bits 1 and 0), which can be recovered by the receiver, even in the absence of complete information reception by auto-correct erroneous or control bits. Perhaps something similar happens in the human brain. Thinking about these things, I feel I am like a child. Fascinating…
I plan to visit the grave of my stepfather. Once reach there, I finding myself talking alone in front of the tomb. He is two meter below ground, but still hear her voice. He helped me define my current way of thinking. My father liked to experiment in personal life, business, knowing people, new situations, but this way of life caused him to have more failures than successes. There was not to be a businessman, or people leader, but has some exceptional human qualities that inspired me in all my initiatives. Thanks to him I love to work in startups, I enjoy risks and play everything on a single card. Perhaps because of him, I am here and now, and because of him I’m not afraid of consequences.
I reviewed my childhood places, I spoke with the spirits… I feel peaceful, freed from all things earthly and unearthly. I check my email from last employers. I received two offers, from other cities. No offers from my town within two months of searching. It’s ironic. If I will have to move to another city with the job, you can lose friends and, quite possibly, my family. All acquaintances are reluctant to give me advice about the decision, because I am in a too delicate situation. I feel alone in my decisions, I feel among strangers.
I stop here with the story, because I need to remain alone with my thoughts…