Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
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On an innocuous Wednesday morning in late January, I received a call from my bossís boss. At that time, and for the prior year, I had been full-time telecommuting to Utah. Being a telecommuter, and one that worked almost exclusively over email, I was afforded great flexibility in scheduling my work. Thus, on most Wednesdays, I would be sleeping at 9am. But on this particular Wednesday, I was awake, on the phone, talking to the VP of engineering.

Now, the VP of engineering is a good guy. Heís done great things in his time with the company, and I have complete confidence that there will be many more great things to come. But heís never called me on the phone before, so I became wary once my brain had thawed off enough to assess the situation.

My first thought was that he was going to ask me to fly out again: I had been summoned to Utah on emergency notice not two weeks before, and I knew all the California engineers were out visiting Utah at that very moment. I had recently worked on a big project for a major customer, and I guessed that it dealt with that. However, as is often the case, my first thought was wrong.

No, on this Wednesday I was being offered an ultimatum: move to Utah, or leave the company. There were other details, of course: relocation bonuses, severance packages, salary adjustments Ė all of these surrounded the offer. But in the end it was move in or get out.

Without a whole lot of consideration, even with my sleep-hampered mind, I basically decided on the spot that this was the opportunity I was waiting for to get out. Way out. Like, other side of the world out.

See, Iíd been in a rut for a while Ė a rut I think the VP sensed Ė and it was really time for a change. I liked the company, the work, and really liked the people. Being a telecommuter was fantastic and surprisingly productive, being a technical writer was extremely educational, and being a fast worker I had plenty of free time to play with. All in all, things were smooth sailing, and would have been for the foreseeable future.

But smooth waters arenít always the best waters. Though my bank account was continually growing, I wasnít growing. Despite continually learning new things, the pace of my learning had slowed. Though I had extensive opportunity to advance in the company, I frankly had limited interest. In essence, I had become content.

Contentment is like sleep (my favorite pastime and greatest skill). But like sleep, itís something that requires moderation. If you are content for too long, the contentedness itself loses its appeal. This leads to stagnation, and Iím just not ready for that.

With this in mind, I decided then that this was an event to be exploited, a rare opportunity unlikely to be soon repeated. I had money in the bank, no debt, no leases, no obligations, and no restraints. In essence, I had no excuse to not do what I wanted to do. I had no excuse to get out of it all.

Which, in a roundabout way, brings us to today. Right now Iím sitting in the front window of Fritz, the greatest coffeeshop in the world (so far). I have my steaming cup of Earl Grey, my Mead Quad-Ruled Composition Pad, and my blue Pilot V-Ball Ultra-Precise pen. My feet are propped up and Iím leaned back, my Sony Picturebook is on my lap, and some hard-trance techno music in my ear. I have a Healthy Backpack filled with computer accessories, a water purifier, a travel book, check book, Leatherman utility device, tie, and shaving kit. I also have a prescription for 120 anti-malarial pills, an arm-full of vaccinations, and international medical coverage. Coming to me in the mail is a passport, visas, and several thousand dollars of world-wide plane tickets. Most importantly, I have the support of my family, the incredulity of my friends, and 360 degrees to go before Iím home.

Copyright 2021 - David Barrett -