New paths
New paths

by Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter 11/1999

I recently spoke to Tom Fuller. While I’d never met the man in person, our columns often shared these same pages [in the Foxboro Reporter]. I told him I always liked his writing style and wished he’d consider returning. His writing was no-nonsense and direct, and he made a lot of people think-and yes, made some fume as well. He pulled no punches and I always admired that about him. More than once, I thought to myself, “Man, I wish I wrote that!”

I called Tom because I wanted to let him know that one of his columns really hit home. Some time ago, Tom wrote a column explaining that he’d made the choice to leave his job as a corrections officer. Making the choice to leave had been many months in the making, and involved a lot of soul searching, and input from family and friends. When he finally decided to leave, it was as though a huge weight had been lifted from him. Now, he says he loves his new job.

Back when he wrote that, I thought to myself, “I wish that had been me,” because I too was seriously considering that it was time to move on from my job. I’d been there six years, which I’m told is unheard of in the Information Technology field-the average stay is 18 months. I was good at what I did, I was respected, and had even been promoted twice — but something was missing.

It’s not easy leaving a job you love. There were many factors in my decision, both pro and con.

But leave? How could I crawl out of my little comfort zone and seek out something new? No way! Now in my mid-thirties, change is not something I do well. If you look up “hates change” in the dictionary you’ll see my picture. Besides, could I really start over somewhere else? Be the new guy again?

Worse, I started feeling guilty. While I never fancied myself as the group messiah, I was the “platform leader,” knew that my contributions were important, that the group was understaffed as it was, and at least in the short term I’d leave them in a bind. I didn’t want to do that.

The decision ultimately took nearly a year. After spending months talking to friends, family — and seeing examples like Tom’s column — I finally knew which road to take.

Finally, I called the recruiter. There were interviews that were surprisingly pleasant and easy. For the first time in a long while, I was excited about computer technology. I was intrigued by the possibilities for new challenges, new growth, new friends. Then came job offers.

I’d left jobs before, but this was different. Some of my co-workers were like family. Kathy was my partner, UNIX co-conspirator and friend. Leanne and I were constantly swapping “Simpson’s” jokes, keeping each other sane during the crazy times. My Star Trek buddy Mary and I debated the merits of the “Classic” Trek cast versus the later incarnations. And then there was Aaron — my best work friend and fellow Keno player and Batman fan. How could I leave?

But it was time.

The company made some effort to keep me, but I’d made it clear this was the right decision for me at this time. They were surprisingly understanding (although a certain senior vice president kept holding up little signs that said, “Bobby don’t go!”)

I spent the next three weeks wrapping things up and saying my good-byes. When people heard I was leaving, the response was overwhelming. I think I gained 10 pounds from all the lunches people took me to. I was very happy to leave on such good terms.

So here it is a month and a half later. The new job is a dream come true. The learning is intense. It’s weird not being the “expert” anymore; it’s strange being the new guy. But it’s far more exciting than I imagined, and there’s already new friends, new challenges, and even a Star Trek fan or two.

I know now that I should have done this sooner. While I miss my friends at the old company, and wish them well, I’m happy again. Happier than I could have ever imagined.

Maybe change isn’t such a bad thing after all. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s exactly what’s needed.

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