ME, 49, is at the cusp of leaving the corporate world and taking a small sabbatical without much thought about the future, but with a decade’s worth of planning in the past that has led up to this moment. He talks about his work, his 4 aunts he wishes to see soon in Pittsburgh and what the house that he just sold would be thinking if it were a person. Here’s the transcript of my face to face interview with him.
Heart: I’m a writer. I’m going to sit with you, is that OK?
ME: Yeah, please sit with me. Are you planning on entertaining me with your essays and poetry?
Heart: (Laughs) No, I’ll interview you for my blog but you’re going to be anonymous.
ME: Oh, really? OK! You can just say, “****(Name redacted) – rugged, handsome, charming”.
ME: Introduction’s going to be like this. He’s the doofus who entered through the wrong entrance of Taco Mac. (Laughs)
Heart: (Laughs) Do you live around here?
ME: Yeah, yeah, do you know where Suvidha (local Indian store) is? I live right back there in that little subdivision. Its a nice place to live. The only thing that sucks is the traffic, of course. But, everything’s reasonably close by, there’s a gym, groceries, movie theater and a hospital if you need it. There’s pet care, everything.
Heart: Where do you work?
ME: I’m in the information management space. OK, so its basically, its like think about a company maintaining data, there’s a whole bunch of different data to manage right? So, lets take for example, the number of employees that work in Taco Mac, and the number of hours they work. You know, there’s beer that they sell, there’s the food that they sell. And all that data is valuable right, and of course the objective of any business is to make money, to be a part of the community, to be a nice place to work. So, the data helps tell that story.
So, the data helps the company to learn to focus on what areas might have to improve and what areas are working well. Hey Tuesdays and Thursdays, the employees are so happy, why? Well, maybe, it’s coz on Thursdays they give out pint glasses and the customers are happy. Something like that, you know, I don’t know. So, lot of what I do in information management involves going to the source to get that raw information, and turn it into something useful. I clean it up and put it into nice looking files.
Heart: I was a big data developer in LexisNexis, so this stuff’s familiar.
ME: Oh, perfect. That’s the company that does background checks. Isn’t it?
ME: So yeah, we massage that data. Have you heard of Tableau, Cognos, Quick View? We use SQL Server (database). The end goal is, as you know, is to make the data useful to the managers who want to observe trends using it.
Heart: I didn’t know that even Taco Mac runs a Business Intelligence program on its data.
ME: Oh, I was just using them as an example. But, I think the Taco Mac parent company might have some people up in its Technology center and they might be trying to see how to run data analytics in the background.
Heart: Yeah, they must be right?
ME: They have to, you know, but they might have different goals. They would want their customers happy, but also they would like to know where they’re hemorrhaging money or where they’re doing well.
Heart: Yeah, they need to know which of their products work and which don’t.
ME: Exactly, its funny, I met a small business owner a while ago and he asked me what I did and I kinda told him the same story. And he really wanted 3 pieces of data because he owns a small hotel. And in his case, he just needed to know, how many reservations everyday, how much inventory and stuff like that. So, he needed some basic Point of Entry reporting.
Heart: All he needs is a small access database then?
ME: (Laughs) Exactly. So, I work as a consultant for a big consulting company and we have a lot of big clients here in Atlanta, there’s Home Depot, Coke, Cox Communications.. And for those different clients, I do these different projects. So, I’ve wrapped up my work because I plan on moving. Right now, I’m moving, as a matter of fact, Friday’s my last day in Atlanta. So, I wanted to do a good job wrapping up these projects for my clients. I want to be close to my family for a little bit. I had bought my home 13 years ago from the builder and the housing market did its thing in 2007. So, for a long time, I was stressed if it will come back up. And now finally, its come back up and its a good time to move.
At the time I had bought the smallest house in the community, but its a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom house. And I’m a single person. 3 bedrooms have been empty for as long as I’ve lived here. So, I told my company, I’ll be away for a little while. But, I still wanted to wrap up on good terms, I want my clients to be happy, maybe I’ll work for them in the future again. I told them I needed a month or two and we worked out something. I sold my house in that time.
So, that’s what I do. I’ve always been a computer guy, originally wanted to go to Med school, but was tired of school, you know.
Heart: So, you’re literally on a threshold in your life. A little time to recoup from a traditional 9 to 5 (job) I guess?
ME: Well, yeah, traditionally I’m very much a planner. And being an analyst has worked to my advantage. (Laughs) This has been in the works and I’ve done some planning. I’ve been downsizing for a number of months now, you know. And I think I’ve kept commitments on my life a little lighter too, not marrying, not having kids, that type of thing. If you’ve kids you cannot just take off. So, yeah, work’s stressful, so this is good.
Heart: Any break in monotony is what all of us can afford.
ME: (Laughs) Yeah, yeah. Its not crazy, but its stressful enough. Especially when your house is under water, you wake up and wonder if I am trapped here, am I stuck here forever? And, its come up, I’ve some equity in it now. And I’m excited about this time to change. A little nervous but for a little bit I’m going to stop at Pittsburgh where my folks are from. So, I’ve a very safe place to land for a couple of months.
Mom’s very nice, she’s like, “Of course, stay for as long as you like.” So, I’ll do that. And then maybe, I’ll move some.. Of course, I’m a little nervous. I haven’t lived with my folks ever since I moved out for college, you know. (Laughs)
Heart: You’ll be fine. (Laughs)
ME: Yeah, I’m a tiny bit excited, you know. I’m real close to my folks, so its going to be good. So, there’s this little joke, that I’m going to be turning 50 back in my little bedroom that I grew up. (Laughs)
ME: That is if I am there till September. We’re actually having a big birthday party for me in September, can you believe it, I’ll be 50.
ME: Thanks, so yeah, I’m also very excited. My brother lives in Phoenix, so I might go live there. I’ve thought for a number of years to move there. The heat in Phoenix scares me, but the cold in Pittsburgh bothers me too.
Heart: So, your parents are OK with the cold?
ME: Yeah, they’re OK. Mom doesn’t like the cold, and dad’s more than happy, he likes Pittsburgh. You know, they’ve both retired, so he tolerates it more than she does, but she has 4 sisters in the area. And so, she maybe like to say.
The thing that I miss about Pittsburgh is that I was kinda the first grandkid for all my aunts and I was spoilt. So, I miss them and so it will be good to be able to visit them.
Heart: I’ve a feeling they’re all baking pies this weekend (since you’re visiting).
ME: (Laughs) You know what, we’ve a cookie day tradition before Christmas that I’ve not been able to attend last several years.
We do this couple of weekends on a Saturday before Christmas and we would sit with our grandma, now she’s passed away, but we always had so much fun. They still do that. Sadly, I’ve missed a lot of these gatherings because its hard to travel from here for Thanksgiving and then cookie day and back for Christmas again.
So yeah, I’m hoping to spend some more time with family. May be, I’ll find a job that’ll give me remote work. Maybe, I’ll travel to Phoenix after a little while, so we’ll see, we’ll see.
Heart: The map’s at your disposal. If you finally decide a city, you can even take a little pay cut to find a job.
ME: See, that’s what I thought. The pressure of the big house is off me.
Heart: Why only technology jobs, you can be a good manager too, I guess?
ME: Thank you. Its so funny because, I love my data, and I love working with people too, and my dad managed people for years and years. But, I think I’ve this nice guy complex, so its hard to tell people what to do, and reprimanding them, you know.
I’m terrible, and on the other hand, I’m a people pleaser, bend too far back down for others, and that’ll cause me terrible stress. (Laughs)
So, that’s my scoop. I’ve sold my house, its a little sad, but there’s a big family coming in. 3 generations of people running around, grandma, parents and kids. Instead of one person, there’ll be plenty of them. 6 or 7 people. I think, if my house was a person, it would be very happy right now. So, yeah.
Note: Before you rate this episode, please consider if you would’ve been so open and authentic about your own life. Earlier episodes available at The Anonymous Manifesto.
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