PART I of III: THE DECISION Depending on what part of the puddle you are on, you're either enjoying the cold, cuddly weather of a Northern hemisphere Winter or conversely, you're soaking up the rays and firing up the barbeque for another Southern Summer. Either way, I certainly hope the festive season has enveloped you and you are enjoying the company of loved ones.
First off, I make no apologies for what I'm portraying in this document. As most of you know, I shoot straight from the hip, sometimes to my own detriment, none the less, the following writings are exactly as I feel. I could not have wrote this 6 months ago as I was simply too angry to be objective enough to not sound like a disgruntled former employee. May aim is that those who read this come away with a different appreciation of what they do and the processes that are in constant play that are both positive and negative.
This journey began over a Northern Christmas in 1995 when, my then wife, Ruth had an inkling that she wanted to return back to her homeland after many years in my hometown of Alice Springs (Northern Territory, Australia). At the time it was an easy decision to make, as I had no dramas in moving away from my mates, my family and my environment as I've always had a "You'll never never know if you never never have a go" outlook on life. Funnily enough, I thought Ruth would have enough of the "big smoke" of the United States and want to return to God's own country in a couple of years.
And so it was, I went from a legit white christmas, back to Australia to pack up all out goods & chattels and head back to Boise, all in a space of 22 days. Jeez, she wasn't half serious about getting out was she??? ;-)
It hadn't really hit me that we were moving to the States until I was standing at the front doors of the Boise Airport in the middle of a fierce snow storm with a Polo shirt, dress shorts and a pair of loafers. What the hell had I gotten myself into??? Which pretty much sums up what I am going through at this very moment. After much thought, I've decided to head back to Australia on a permanent basis, within the next month or so.
To give you some background, when I started Walkabout 2006 back on June 21st, a lot of people were under the impression that I was taking a few weeks off before finding another job in Boise and continuing on with my life, even though I made it known there was a strong possibility that I could be returning to Australia. In actual fact, the extraction process started back in November 1995, all be it with a few Immigration hassles as well.
Around that same time, my management had come up with yet another re-org, another support matrix, added to our workload, downsized our resources and told us we were overpaid according to "the" market surveys. I asked to see what they were, as my livelihood was dependant on these so called market surveys. As part of the then managers "open door policy" and "transparent processes" we were promised that they would be available for us to view, but to date, I'm still waiting to see these reports.
As part of this latest re-org, one of our upper management came to a meeting and threw the floor open to questions. I asked about the complete lack of career paths and promotion opportunities within Field Services to which he replied "You guys interact with all the various IS teams, so you should be familiar with what they do." Being familiar and being trained enough to be hired by that group is two completely different matters. When I pressed hard for a better answer I was brushed off and it got me thinking.
I left that meeting absolutley livid and wanted to take some time off, but as with the Christmas periods of years gone past, with me being single, I would not take any time off over the Christmas period. This would allow those with families the ability to spend as much time as they could, with their respective loved ones. I never had any dramas with it as it was a win/win for both my team mates and myself. So I simply put in for two weeks off in January and kept my head down and arse up.
I took off from Boise and visited Salt Lake City (UT), Las Vegas (NV), Phoenix (AZ), Dallas (TX), Oklahoma City (OK) with one eye on having a laid back holiday while the other was on the prevailing job markets, housing and cost of living. I got back to Boise and had decided that I did not want to be at Micron and it was just a matter of how and when to pull the trigger.
The main thing driving me out the door was that I had lost faith in the management and that I didn't feel they were honest in their dealings with myself and my team mates. I agonized over a decision for a further 3 weeks, but I knew I was just kidding myself that I wanted to be there, so I simply grabbed up my boss and went into his bosses office and said that it looks like I'm heading back to Australia – although at the time, I was only 10% sure that's where I'd end up. After that impromptu meeting, it was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I started having fun at work again. The old ethic of wanting to be there was back again and I was enjoying myself while documenting all the processes, transitioning the workload, training the incoming replacement and finishing off as many projects as I could to ensure I left with a clean slate.
Poker 101 – Don't try and bluff me when both sides know you're in a position to be harmed the most. My decision to leave (after giving 4 months notice) was further vindicated when I was informed several times by management that "I could have simply been walked out the door as soon as I announced my resignation" to which my response was "I could have cut out all my owed time off and simply walked in and said stick the job up your arse".
But that is not who I am. Loyalty, honesty, dedication and mateship are simply not words to me that are to be bandied around on a whim. After all, isn't the person in the mirror the one you have to live with the most?
Truth be told, thankfully I wasn't walked as it gave me the breathing space to sell my house, get my gear into storage and to make the transition a whole lot less stressful.
So, June 21st 2006 was the day that Walkabout 2006 kicked off with two very distinctive objectives (a) to check out the good old U S of A and (b) is there somewhere within the 52 states that I would want to live permanently? I also had arranged for 2 weeks in New Zealand as well as 5 weeks in Australia of which the objectives were the same.
I had an inkling that Austin (Texas), Dallas (Texas) or Florida would be places that I'd like to settle down in, but after having visited them extensively, I knew they were not the places for me. Savannah (Georgia) held the most appeal to me, but the job market in my field was terrible and the housing market was through the roof.
My five weeks in Australia had it's ups (peoples attitudes, hanging with the mates) and downs (carrying a neck and hand injury) but I looked at a lot of things objectively. Comparing prices on goods and services, housing costs, costs of living, wages and the like. By the time I left, I knew that's where I wanted to be, back in Australia.
To summarize, I am forever grateful to Micron for the opportunities that was afforded over the 10 years I was there. There was some luck in how I was hired, but I felt that time and time again, I proved myself worthy of being hired and was an active participant in my work environment and left better for the experience. We do not live in a fairytale, so although disappointed in the manner of why I left, I will take no ill will with me as I endevour not to repeat the same mistakes that are still being made today.
Having said that, it's not going to be easy. Having been over here for so long, I've lost the ability in knowing the worth and value of an Aussie dollar (or the South Pacific Peso as I call it). Getting set up with a house, job, vehicle etc, shipping my gear from the US. It's going to be a challenge that's tempered somewhat by the fact that I'm not 100% sure if it's the right thing to do. Is anyone???
You know, for me, it's all about a quality of life thing now. Yeah, we all still have to work, pay the mortgage, kick the dog, water the horse and everything. It's not that I'm a glory seeking bastard or anything, people simply do not know the half of what I get up to when helping someone out (and I want to keep it that way), but it's great to be appreciated and rewarded accordingly for what you do – especially at work, no matter what you do.
At this point in my life, work is like a marriage: everyone will do it and who would you rather have – a spectacular and supporting spouse or an old battleaxe???
Part II of III – The Reality can be found at this link – The Reality.
Stay Happy ;-)