Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Change for the Better

It's funny how things can happen just when they need to happen. Take my job and my water lines, for example ...

A dramatic increase in our water bill told us something was amiss. The county water department nonchalantly informed us we had a water leak somewhere in the 50+ year-old plumbing on our property, but was kind enough to tell us they'd rebate part of the water bill when we present them with a copy of the plumber's bill for fixing the leak. That, of course, means we have to have a plumber fix the leak. We knew we'd need pipe work eventually, but my less-than-optimal current occupation made paying for a plumber a challenge. Unfortunately, at the rate the water was apparently flowing, we'd soon need to finance our water bill, so we had little choice.

Finding a water leak is amazingly like finding a break in a network, and makes one think briefly about the "pipes" we pump out data through. The analogy is never clearer than when you're troubleshooting a broken water pipe. Do you know where the lines run? Check the obvious and least expensive places first. With the water main being my Internet and the meter acting as the router, I started tracing the problem just far enough to confirm the problem wasn't obvious. A water leak under ground can make itself evident, particularly in a time of drought, by an abnormally green patch of lawn over the pipe. The problem (like some I've run into chasing Ethernet breaks) is I didn't know where the pipes actually ran. No patch of lawn looked better than another, suggesting the break wasn't out in the open, but I didn't know where to look.

I gave in, and we called a leak detector. Shortening an already-too-long story, he found the leak under some bushes (which were benefiting from the extra water without actually looking like it, those devils!). Next came the plumber, and with him the bad news: The leak was a ruptured main line into the house, just past the turn-off, and the rupture led under the house.

We could put it off no longer. We had to re-pipe the house. Water was shut off, and the next week was spent getting quotes and lining up financing. Meantime, a helpful neighbor donated a bucket and access to his water, so we could keep a toilet operational. We called it a "hurricane drill", living off bottled water and quickly discovering how much stored water was needed to keep functionally sanitary (like most people, we are woefully unprepared).

The financing was the really ugly part, as my retail manager job had until now only managed to keep us afloat. Now our boat has sprung a leak and I had to find a way to keep us from sinking.

A dry dock beats a life preserver

That was when one of life's funny coincidences occurred. I answered a scantily-detailed ad for an e-commerce manager position and was pleasantly surprised to be called about it. I might even say I was amazed, given my previously noted observations on job hunting. My good fortune came from the method of response required by the employer. The ad requested faxed resumes or personally-submitted applications ... no e-mails accepted. The responses had to drop to a mere handful of applicants who were serious enough to locate a fax machine or drop by to apply. My resume, once buried in an avalanche of applicants, now stood for itself, and of course my credentials in e-commerce were exemplary (if I do say so myself).

The interview was a pleasant two-hours long, and both myself and my prospective employer were bursting with enthusiasm about the project - a new venture for the company and a new department to be managed, complete with a warehouse crew for the receiving and shipping of inventory.

They offered me the job on the same day the plumber started digging the hole to lay the new pipes. The pay is more in line with what I should be making at this point in my career (read into that whatever you want), so my boat can stay afloat a while longer. I start July 30, and hope to share my observations and pitfalls as I go.

See? Things do have a way of working out. Who would have thought ...?

No comments: