I think I’m still a bit of an anomaly here in California, in that I still don’t like driving, and I’m fond of public transpiration. I have three ‘Transit’ cards right now: Chicago, LA, and San Francisco. OCTA, the bus system around the OC, doesn’t have that, but they have a 5-ride-pass, which I’ll pick up since they never expire (yay!) and that’s easier than finding $2. By the way, when I moved here in October the price was $1.50. Interesting.
It’s a total accident that I live near public transportation here. My mother picked the place, and I signed paperwork, site unseen, so that it fits my lifestyle so well is hilarious. It’s quiet, it’s got tall ceilings and space, a garage, and the only complaint I have is that my mailbox is in a weird spot.
But I’m weird, in that I do take the bus about once a month. There’s a bus that runs from a block from home to a block from work. That same bus runs to the train station, where I can get a ride to LA. And that’s what I did today.
DreamHost has an office near where I work, but also one in LA where my buddy Shredder works. Today was a day for training, so instead of carpooling I thought I should take the train. In part, this was because the Mrs. needed the car, but also I really hate driving on the LA freeways. Various trip planners said the trip should be about 90 minutes, which isn’t that bad at all, so I hopped on the 8am train to LA Union Station. I could have the bus, but it was easy for me to be dropped off, so hey, it was a 6 minute drive.
The light rail (aka MetroLink) is interesting. I’ve ridden a lot of trains, from Amtrak up and down this state (seriously, from Santa Barbara to Del Mar 4 times a year for three years), to the NYC subway. I spent over a decade on Chicago’s CTA and Metra, and I even made my way around Japan’s disparate system. Talk about wild, Japan’s train system is owned by multiple companies with different train gauges per system.
In that way, it’s similar to the MetroLink, which is not the same company as Amtrak or their Surfliner. That’s all they have in common, though. The MetroLink shares the track with Amtrak (and possibly there’s another rail system that uses it too). Amtrak’s SurfLiner run is, however, $4 more per trip and has fewer trains… But they have more amenities, as I found out taking it back from Anaheim to Solana Beach once.
The MetroLink is no-frills, but not cheap either. It’s very much in the mode of all Californian trains I’ve seen, and plasticy. If you’re familiar with the East Coast subway and trains, we go for metal. The CTA is metal walls, sometimes with faux wood. The Metra is metal and padded seats. Everything in California is plastic. Molded and clean plastic, but plastic.
This only reinforced my very first impression of all this, which was “Aww, look, they’re trying to act like public transportation!” Everything was insanely quaint, even the quality of the crazy people (which was about the same ratio of crazy to commuter as you get anywhere else).
All of that aside, it was painless. I got my ticket from a machine, got on, had a human look at my ticket and put a marker at my seat to indicate where I was getting off (yeah, that was weird, weirder was that an LA County sheriff did it on the way back), and the signs were easy to follow all the way from the MetraLink to the LA Subway. That was a nice three-stop jaunt to the LA Office, and off I went to work.
The way back was weirder, since I didn’t actually know the name of the train I wanted. I knew I took the Orange County Line coming in, and that it’s color was orange, but there are LA Metro trains (see there’s this third trainline) and Amtrak at the same station. As it turns out, there were two trains I could have taken home, the orange and the pale-blue, however neither are labeled with their colors but by their final destinations. I ended up taking the orange home, not knowing I could have caught a 10 minute earlier pale-blue, and my train home was 10 minutes late, but still, it was only a 45 minute ride from LA Union Station to home.
Really that’s not bad. Yes, it sucks to take a train to a train, but given the distance commuted, I’m okay with that. Also they’re way more generous about bikes on trains here (like you’re allowed to do that in rush hour). If I had to do something like this once a month, I’d be way less stressed than if I tried to drive in LA traffic, that’s for goddamn sure. According to maps, it’s the same kind of commute my father has from Ageo to Tokyo, so it’s really nothing (including the two or three trains/busses). With a bicycle, I could zip to the station, too!
Random: Google Maps says to drive from LA to Tokyo, I must first drive to Washington State, sail to Hawaii, drive across Hawaii, and then sail to Japan. Okay then.
I’ve been to a lot of “All Hands” meetings over the years. For about 13 years at the bank, we had them four times a year, plus division ones. I’ve probably sat in on 50 or so of these where I’m supposed to understand the status of the company, how we’re doing and where we’re going. They’re usually 90 minutes long with slides.
For the first time, I’ve walked out of one and actually understood what the fuck is going on in my company, where we’re going, and where we’ve been.
It’s a whole new world these days, with amazingly obvious simple stuff. The basic “I’m not being treated like a criminal” is the biggest for me. Being trusted to do my work alone made me feel fantastic. But when you add in the fact that DreamHost wants me to enjoy my life and work, it’s everything I thought work was supposed to be. Having a passion for what I do is a huge part too. I like WordPress (I wish I could explain why) but I like working here. I get new and interesting things to fix, I get to
A lot of this is that I just wasn’t a great fit for a Bank. Anytime they asked me ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ my answers weren’t in line with them. Yesterday I thought “Wow, in 5 years, DreamHost will be 20 and I’ll be 40. I want to still be here!” I’ve never felt that way before about work. I no longer see my work as my job, but as something I love doing and going to. I don’t want to call in sick, I want to be in the office, working, with the crazy people.
The meeting was just over two hours, followed by bowling (I don’t bowl, sorry, it’s bowl or be able to use my arm) and it had an open bar. I spent the hours listening, poking Shredder about 3.5, and sipping whiskey (on an empty stomach, I’ve done dumber things, but I did not get drunk). Simon mentioned me by name a couple times (we started making a mini-drinking game about the number of times he said ‘WordPress’ and ‘Mika’), and we cheered on news and bowling for two hours, which just sped by. I didn’t look at my watch, or wonder when it’d be over, until around the 2 hour mark.
On top of that, I’m in the (WordPress) news this morning as an example of how you can be a WP Professional:
How to Become a Top WordPress Professional
You do not need to know how to write code to get ahead in WordPress. If the only people involved in WordPress were developers, then WordPress wouldn’t be the software that it is today. Here are some of the things you can do:
- Project Manager
- Support Pro
- Documentation Writer
- Teaching & Training
If you aren’t convinced that you can make it doing these things, check out my post on the WordPress Economy to scope out some of the people who are already doing it.
A great example of this is Mika Epstein (more commonly known as Ipstenu). For her, WordPress started out as a hobby but it quickly became more rewarding than her IT job at a bank where she did everything from application installs on desktops to deployment automation and monitoring for servers. Recently, though, she’s started a job as a support specialist for DreamHost.
I would point out I can (and do) write code, but I’m no Nacin or Otto, where I dream in ones and zeros. I know how to unravel someone else’s code and fix it, which is why I’m awesome at support. Am I a developer? You bet! Am I a coder? Yes, I am! But am I also a documenter, a spin doctor, tech support, teacher, encouraging, enabler, and advocate. All of those things make me an amazing component of the WordPress ecosystem. I love helping people more than coding, but I also love helping them with coding. Go figure.
Don’t think I regret working for The Man for the time I did. I learned a lot about how things work together. The intricacies of how everything has to mesh to function as a company isn’t something I’ll forget any time soon, and makes me very respectful of my coworkers and their responsibilities. Help, don’t assume, and share. I’m taking all the best things about working at the bank and carrying them onward.
My life is totally different, and I’m totally happy.
The truth is, I am happy. I sleep better, I eat better (and less), I get a little more sun, and I’m enjoying things. I do need to get some bookcases, so we can finish unpacking, but … I’m sorry, I got nothing to complain about except paying off moving costs. So y’know I’m happy. Heck, Obama won last night and I’m delighted. A friend of mine got cast as
an extra a guest star on CSI (he’s a huge fan) and I’m so stoked for him. My nephew was christened (Jews In Church! All the Lulz!) and we had a nice party. My bed got here, and I’ve been catching up on sleep.
The only thing I’m ‘behind’ on is WordPress Plugin Reviews. Which is understandable. I’m also behind on watching Tabletop and The Guild, but in part that’s because their RSS feeds are total crap and I have to sign up for all of GeekAndSundry’s posts to see ‘em. For the record: disabling/circumventing the default RSS category feeds in WordPress is crap — if we use RSS, we know how to use it. Oh and I’m not used to TV being an hour later. It’s weird.
Clearly these posts are crap because I’m too happy. I guess I need some random stuff to talk about?
I’m not engaging in hyperbole (or a half) but you guys… My life has just changed a lot.
On Tuesday the 7th, I gave two weeks notice for the bank. As of the 27th, my new job will be as a WordPress Support Specialist for DreamHost. Sounds a little like my dream job, doesn’t it? It should. It is.
There was originally a lot more here, about weird personal crap you guys don’t care about. The best way I can sum it up is this. I didn’t hate my job at the bank right away. In fact, I enjoyed it, I liked the challenge, and I found the tech engaging. Then came a new CTO, and changes, and a recession, and more changes, and … well you get the picture. Eventually all these things added up to me not wanting to be here anymore. In fact, I would be late to work some days because I was crying. I really didn’t want to be at the bank.
I’ve been sending out feelers and resumes to various places, one of whom turned me down for tax reasons (no hard feelings!) and another I had to turn down (I hope no hard feelings). Finally I was narrowing my choices, and then I got a message from DreamHost. I was about to head out to my Mom’s for a week off, and while there, she and I talked about this, and set up an interview for as soon as I got home (since Mom’s internet is weefy wifi).
From then on, it was a whirlwind. A Skype-interview, a ‘We’ll see you at WCSF,’ and me prepping my talk. If you thought having your first public speaking event in about 20 years was nerve wracking, try adding this on: It was about WordPress, it was at the biggest WP event in the world, and my potential employers were there.
Yeah, that may have been why my mantra was ‘Don’t puke.’ I had a lot of (self imposed) pressure on me to get this right. I felt this was my chance to change my life. The community funded me to get there, I was talking about the community, and I was interviewing for a community related gig. Win big, or GTFH.
When I got on the plane on Monday, I’d had a phone call and was waiting on the final offer. When I got off the plane, I’d signed papers and was planning to give notice at my job as soon as I got to work on Tuesday. There was just one minor issue, my boss is on vacation until Friday. I called HR, who called him, and I was actually waiting on that, and that final background check, before telling everyone.
So what’s next? Well there is a next. And it too is coming soon. Spoilers?
Anyway, this is all because of WordPress. I found a passion I didn’t know I had, and I skill I knew I had applied to it. I don’t regret working for Bank of Ipstenu for the last 14 years (April 13, 1998), as I learned a lot here about code, being an adult, and how to work with people. I learned how not to make myself miserable in my work, and to devote myself to being the best I can be, no matter how I feel about it. Okay, maybe that’s not a good thing, but really what I mean is I got my work ethic here. My parents started it, my work honed it. I am forever thankful to people like Margie and Joe and Rae, who all taught me morals and values of hard work and honesty in corporate America. They taught me not to shy away from tough decisions, to be bold, and to admit to your mistakes.
I will miss people like Rob and Jon and Jeff (and the new guys). I’ll miss my India and Mexico people. Some of them I won’t miss at all. Some of them I never worked with, but I’ll miss a lot. Some I hope to never hear from again. You know how it goes. The whole bank apparently knows. So if you read this, I’m just keeping the ‘where am I going’ low key becuase it doesn’t matter, to you, where. What matters is why.
I’m leaving because “The one thing you can’t trade for your heart’s desire is your heart.” I’m leaving because “I hate it here.” I’m leaving because I don’t like being treated like a number, I am a free man. I’m leaving because I’m not a criminal. I’m leaving because I need to be creative to excel. I’m leaving because I’m not happy here, and I’m done waiting on you to make me happy. I’m leaving because I’m tired of hitting my head against a wall when you decide things that will ‘lower risk’ without the slightest understand of what that is. I’m leaving because we’re acting like the TSA: It’s all just theater.
And yes, that’s what I told my boss. Extra points for people who know where the two quotes came from.
Wish me luck! I may be crazy as all hell for this massive a change, but I’m ready for it! Scared? Yes. But I’m going for it anyway. Win big. Thank you, everyone who supported me, be it with just well wishes and tweets, or funding me getting to WCSF. All of that made a difference. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s no WP community, because I’m living proof you guys can change a life.