Writing this post for today’s FOWC prompt, “pass”.
It’s funny, here I am mostly-isolated in my house, and the weird thing is that I have more time to amuse myself on WordPress. I did manage to get out yesterday, just for a half-mile walk to get some air into my lungs – I’ve been out twice in the last ten days. On the way home I passed a neighbour’s and knocked – we are going to try shopping tomorrow, and did they need anything? We have to step up at the moment – we can’t just think nice things, we need to follow them through with deeds. In fact they are stocked better than us. They are in their Seventies and the husband has MS, so they must be terribly worried.
It was a nice change of scenery therefore this morning when Fandango’s prompt transported me back to another time.
In the mid Nineties I worked for a company which was developing a purchasing solution. Think Amazon, but with tweaks. It didn’t focus on the whole customer experience. It assumed that the customers already knew what they wanted, so made the purchasing process slicker. It was aimed at one business requiring supplies from another.
Look again at the date. This was before even Microsoft had Internet Explorer. So companies were interested. Rumour had it that Microsoft themselves were interested. Banks were interested, because any purchase could go through that bank’s existing payment systems – ka-ching! In the end we hooked Barclays, a big UK bank.
Not satisfied, though, there were rumours that Chase Manhattan were interested in the USA, so the company immediately dispatched people out to work semi-permanently in the USA. At the time, I was leading the Development team, so had to go across regularly to take part in meetings to try to seal the deal.
Plans progressed with Chase such that our joint venture (the agreed structure) would be based in Tampa, Fl. Chase already had a big campus there. I liked Tampa, it had just enough Spanish history to be interesting, so I told the directors that I wouldn’t mind being part of the permanent setup myself. Music to their ears, visas were obtained, a package was offered and agreed and I was all set to move.
At the time, Fl had a very low cost of living. I calculated that the salary offered would allow me a very nice car and apartment.
The hook-up with Chase took forever. Eventually, the deal was sealed, but with one last catch. They wanted the operation to be based in Manhattan. I was quite open to this. I had no ties in the USA anyway, so as long as I liked the place…
In fact as soon as I got there, I loved NYC. Initially, Chase allowed us the use of some of their managed apartments in Battery Park City, while we worked from some Chase offices in Lower Manhattan. Every day, my walk to work involved passing through the World Trade Center, crossing Broadway, and walking along Wall Street. I felt I had arrived!
But crunch time had not quite arrived – I hadn’t quite made the jump to work as a permanent employee for the US company. When that chat came, I waited to hear their revised offer. Tampa and NYC were very different places, in terms of cost of living. In fact, it was estimated 3x higher in one than the other. But I was to be disappointed. Same deal, just NYC not Tampa, the director said.
Over the next few weeks I weighed this up. A car and apartment in Tampa amounted to a shared house, in one of the outer boroughs, in New York City. Plus, I was conscious that I had been lucky to get a break to work in the US, but the foundation here was my own ability to run a Development team, which I’d have wherever I was. The company had gambled that I would be so desparate to work in the USA, I would agree to anything. But as far as I was concerned, I had the world at my feet.
I’ll pass, I said.