To those who don't already know: I will be starting a new job next week. This is notable for one reason above all others: It marks my return to a much more normal situation. You see, for the last four and a half years I have actually had two jobs with two different employers. One of the conditions of the arrangement with one of my employers was that I had to largely keep this a secret from my coworkers there. So I mostly did (excluding those I worked very closely with who needed to fully understand my availability). For over four years. That included not discussing it on this blog.
To be clear this wasn't anything like the latest trend in which C-Level execs of various big orgs bemoan the unethical nature of anybody who chooses to work multiple full time jobs with different companies at the same time without telling anybody. Though I agree that doing that is unethical, my reasoning is far different from that of the thin-skinned C-Levels. However those differences are a topic better addressed by a different blog post on a different day.
The purpose of this post is to discuss the unique aspects of my experience along with the upsides and downsides of it. I also want to discuss why I decided to move on from this arrangement despite the fact it provided an incredible amount of freedom. Both of these jobs were part time but one provided benefits as if I was a full-time worker. Both employers were aware of the other. Both made accommodations for the other when circumstances arose that required me to make a choice between one and the other.
From this aspect, the experience was great. Neither of my employers ever pushed back in a significant way when my schedule with them had to be changed to accommodate the other. But as I am a self-described fan of radical transparency, I bent over backwards to make the circumstances surrounding these changes clear to both. Nobody was left in the dark.
The job providing the benefits also paid for the bulk of my time whereas the other job only paid for a single day a week worth of my time. I have had a long history with both employers and had worked with them before, sometimes as an actual employee and sometimes as a contractor, so both knew me to be trustworthy hence the willingness of both to tolerate and accommodate this odd set of circumstances.
The first job rarely required travel and initially required me to spend a few hours onsite a week, but other than that was 100% remote. The second job required a bit more travel (providing IT services to a remote site maybe a couple times a year) and initially required me to spend all of my time onsite. COVID of course changed these arrangements and ended up turning me into a fully remote employee at the first job and half onsite, half remote at the second.
However when the second job did require travel, my first employer had to accommodate that. I typically handled this by flexing my hours with them that week and spending more hours on their work on the other days of the week that I wasn't traveling on. Because we were honest with each other, this arrangement worked for both of us. Easy enough, especially as my productivity was never negatively impacted.
So the primary upside of this is of course that since both jobs basically limited the number of hours per week I put into them, I basically spent the last four years mostly working less than 40 hours a week. While I was making less than when I was working at Paylocity, I was happier because I had time to relax. At least at first.
On the flip side the primary downside of this arrangement is that I liked the time aspect of it so much, I felt compelled to bend over backwards to try and tell myself the arrangement was still working out even though it really wasn't. That's been my life for the last six months. As the stress at the primary job grew for various reasons, I kept telling myself that it was worth the stretch. But after some amount of time, I finally hit my breaking point a month ago and eventually decided that regardless of the hours, the time had come to move on.
Of course, you may be asking, "What did you spend the last four years doing with all of your spare time?" Oh where to begin. Close friends know that I initially spent a lot of my time streaming on Twitch under the alias of Bumbling Rogue. It didn't take long for me to realize that my personality isn't really suited for that kind of thing, but despite that, I still keep my streaming setup intact as I reserve the right to change my mind.
From there I progressed to watching classic movies, playing video games without an audience and just fooling around with various bits of tech that interested me (small server anybody?). That lasted for a good while. Sometime more recently I discovered that hemp-derived THC was legal in all 50 states thanks to the 2018 farm bill and spent a good bit of my spare time experimenting with that in many of it's various forms and delivery mechanisms.
Not going to lie, that was all a lot of fun. The THC part of it in particular changed my life in a rather permanent way. Mostly because it inspired me to find employers with a less stringent drug testing policy as neither of my employers would've been a fan of that choice had I made them aware of it. This is of course because I have no intention of stopping my use of it. Just so there are no nagging doubts on the part of my readers, I want to make it clear: THC use is something that I kept very separate from my work life as being under the influence of Delta 8, Delta 9, Delta 10 and THC-0 aren't exactly conducive to remaining productive, especially when you write code for a living. Your Mileage May Vary of course. That's just what worked best for me. In any event, I will probably dedicate an entire post to this subject at some point in the future, but it absolutely needed to be mentioned here.
In addition a lot of these life changes have also been inspired by the tragic tale I have watched play out with my in-laws over the last sixteen months. Fourteen months ago my Mother-In-Law died of a rare auto-immune condition called HLH. We watched her go the hospital with a strange illness, get diagnosed, receive chemo, go on hospice and die all within two months. Her husband, my step-father-in-law, passed away a month ago and with that came inheritance related drama I had long dreaded (disclaimer: I have seen this play out in my own family and it's like injecting cancer into the veins of an otherwise healthy creature). On top of that my father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer about four months back. My wife ended up spending months living in Augusta helping tend to the situation (up until she got a hernia and had to step back) and we spent a great deal of time apart. He is still in hospice and she is still recovering from her hernia.
I will always be grateful for the extraordinary lengths both of my employers went to, in an honest effort to accommodate Annette and I during these times. They both stepped up to the plate and gave me the space and the flexibility I needed and I returned the favor by keeping on top of my work and continuing to deliver results for them.
But seeing that much death in such a condensed time period tends to change your perspective on life and I am no exception. With that in mind, along with all of the other factors, the time had come for me to make a change regardless of how drastic it would seem to others in my orbit. It probably also bears mentioning that I have decided to end all of my contracting obligations as well. To put it simply: Life is too short to spend all of it at work.
Change can be painful. Change can also be great. But in this case change is more than a little exciting for me. I want to move on to the next chapter of my life and feel like I'm finally ready to take my first step over that threshold of the gilded cage that I built for myself four years ago.
I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings and I hope you'll come back to read all about it.