Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Free Soda at the Evil Empire

Last month, I went through the long interview process to get a writing job at Microsoft. I've been at Adobe doing essentially the same job for nine years. I like being a technical writer, and Adobe is right up there with Apple and Google in making interesting software, so in a lot of ways it's the perfect job, but . . . nine years?

While many writers move up in the organization to become middle managers, I've never wanted to be a manager -- more meetings, more email, no sense of accomplishment. And I particularly don't want to be a manager in my department at Adobe, where, um, I better not say anything, because this blog is actually getting more popular, if you can believe that.

With nowhere else to go at Adobe, I applied for a job at Microsoft. Microsoft's main campus is huge. A flock of Priuses takes workers from building to building. It's a 20-minute walk to get from Minette's building to Andy's building, and they're not even on opposite sides of the campus. On the day of my big interview -- I had already gone through an informational interview with the hiring manager and a phone interview with an HR rep -- I sat in a room with 8 or 9 people. As I went over my writing samples, responded to their questions, and asked my own questions, I had that odd feeling of wanting something badly that I wasn't really sure I wanted. One voice said, Please, please, please let me work here, and another voice said, Do I really want to work at Microsoft? It kind of reminded me of the time when a hysterical woman at the lake told me her daughter was swimming right over there and now she's gone, so we lifeguards cleared the lake and went diving to look for a little body that we didn't want to find.

The interviews went well, I liked every single person I ran into, I liked the media projects I'd be working on, and I believed I would "thrive" in that work environment. The only problem was the commute. I live 10 miles away from Adobe and 26 miles away from Microsoft. I don't want to ride my bike 26 miles each way -- that's almost four hours of riding -- and the drive across the bridge is nearly always stop-and-go traffic. Still, I thought I could work out several commuting solutions that involved driving one way and riding the other and combining riding with a bus that has wireless internet. I decided that if Microsoft offered me a job at my current salary, I'd take it. I even started packing up my personal belongings.

Microsoft offered me a job, but it was below my current salary. I still gave serious thought to making the change, but I decided that the first time I sat parked on the I-90 bridge waiting for the white van in front of me to lurch forward a few feet, I would have an argument with myself: "I can't believe I took a lower salary for this! Just shut up and drive. No, you shut up."

I didn't take the Microsoft job. So I'm still working at Adobe. You know, living the dream.


  1. AnonymousJune 27, 2007

    was it john lennon who said "the dream is over"?

    that dream anyway.

  2. AnonymousJune 27, 2007

    Bob, I think you're really missing the obvious. Maybe it's the heavy drugs you're on from the MCS, but do you have any idea how much free soda could be worth if you really apply yourself? Of course they wouldn't match your current salary.