2003: May – September
I had one residual MBA class on Saturdays that would finish in the end of June. I had essentially dismantled my life, and Sammy suffered dearly for it. He went from having Thora and K, to being alone for most of 16 months while I was in school and working. So, I promised that little dog a big vacation.
I googled “dog vacation” and the first place that came up was a place in the Keys – one of my favorite places on earth. I planned to get in the car and drive both Sammy and I from Baltimore to Islamorada in the Keys. I booked it for the week of the 4th of July and the week after.
Prior to leaving, I found out that the Developer screwed me in such a silly way on a money issue. Screwing me over pennies, after everything I did for him, did not make me happy. I cleaned off my desk and went home without saying goodbye. I left the next morning on my two week trip to the Keys. I didn’t plan to go back.
I had a great time just being alone with Sammy, teaching him to swim, reading, sleeping late, and laying out. One of my coworkers called me to give me a peptalk to go back to work. I was unconvinced. The Developer knew I was pissed at him and he was apparently scared I wasn’t coming back but he wouldn’t call and talk to me. He just kept needling the coworker to call me. Instead, the coworker convinced him to raise my salary and pay my vacation time.
On the way back to Maryland I detoured through Atlanta. No change with K. He wasn’t going to move to Maryland anytime soon and was still really flaky. We spent a few days being the “old us” but then I left. I was pretty bummed out driving back and really wanted to go back to Atlanta for good to try to fix it. I really believed we were meant to be together.
When I got back to Baltimore I listed my condo on the market and began the motions to get out of the area. The Developer did offer me a regular full time job at non-slave wages, but I continued putting my resume out between New York, the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. I had spent a year and a half in grad school waiting to leave, so I was going to leave. The only caveat was how the hell was I going to interview? Finding something in town would be easy enough, but in another state? The Developer expected after my recent vacation that I wouldn’t be taking any vacations soon. How the hell I was going to get the time off I needed to solve my relationship and job woes was beyond me.
I have heard that there are three aspects to a persons life: Home, Work and Relationship. At any given time, one of those three has to be in constant turmoil because that’s how we are as humans. We get settled in our house and relationship and suddenly we want a job change. We love our job and we realize the house needs to be bigger so we move. Think about it – when have you been satisfied in all three areas? For me, it was relationship turmoil? Check. Job turmoil? Check. House on the market so turmoil there? Check. Not good.
The day of settlement arrived for my condo. I was going to make lots of money for doing basically nothing. The Developer forbade me to leave work to go settle on the condo. He insinuated to a coworker that he was going to fire me if I went. He didn’t like the idea of anyone making any money at all, especially since the money I would make was going to render his paychecks useless for a while. So, I called my dad. This is exactly how the conversation went, I shit you not.
V: Dad. He’s going to fire me if I go to the settlement.
Dad: How much will you make by going to work tomorrow?
V: I don’t know.
Dad: Is it safe to say $250?
Dad: And how much would you make by going to your settlement tomorrow?
Dad: Um, lemme ask you. Did you just get an MBA?
Dad: Are we done here?
Went to settlement, collected my cash, got fired. In. That. Order.
See, there was a method to the madness that was my former boss. He liked that we were all struggling. It enabled him to say things like, “Instead of going to the office tomorrow, meet my wife at the furniture store and load a five piece sectional sofa into the company truck and bring it to my house. Set them up where she wants them.” He used to send me to these properties in the ghettos of Prince George’s County to do the most insane shit. I had to go to some mail order bride’s house to try to convince her to sell her land now that her husband was in jail. In jail for killing people. I should have had my own bodyguard. The Developer used us like slaves. What a prick.
When I called my dad and said “He fired me.” My dad said, “GOOD!”
I had already begun the job hunt, weeks prior. I had answered a bunch of ads in the paper that weekend and got several calls. Homebuilding was great back then. At this point I realized something: national homebuilders all had local offices. I didn’t know this before. I would look at the headquarters of a builder, see it was in Texas or California, and think I didn’t want to move there, so I didn’t pursue them. But then I found out they all had regional offices.
A man called me holding my resume in hand. Because my job with the developer read as “current,” and the company name was just an acronym, he asked me who the owner was.
V: The Developer
Man: Oh Jesus. Are you there right now?
Man: I hate that guy. He learned all his tricks at this company we both worked for in the early 90’s. What’s he up to these days?
V: Um…same old stuff. Still fleecing people for pennies. He fired me last week.
“Why don’t you come in for an interview?”