In February of 2018, I was laid off by Barnes & Noble. At the time of the laying off I was the receiving manager, but over the course of my fifteen-year career I had done most levels of management in most parts of the store. I’m a writer–I write novels and short stories–so even though the work was sometimes boring or unpleasant and even though the hours were often horrible, I liked the job. Maybe loved it. It was a good fit.
But they laid off all of the receiving managers in the company, so I was told to leave. Immediately. After fifteen years of service and on the heels of two “Exceeds Standards” end-of-year reviews. Such is life.
As if to illustrate the powers of networking, several former workmates called me within the week to offer jobs. I ended up taking another receiving job. I liked working in the back room of Barnes & Noble. It was my favorite position I held there. I figured a similar position in any type of business would be just fine while I worked away on my latest book.
I took a job as the receiving manager at a super market called Fresh Thyme. Many of the same elements were there: the trucks, the solitude, the absence of customer service (which I had sworn off after twelve years on the floor at B&N).
But the super market wasn’t for me. The people there were nice, but it turns out that the only way I withstood the tedium at Barnes & Noble was through my bibliomania. Opening boxes all day was interesting when the new Dave Eggers novel might be lurking within. When any package could contain the bespectacled smirk of Harry Potter. But I didn’t really care about apples or bags of chips, about watermelon sales or two-for-ones on cucumbers. I didn’t care about the price of a pound of shrimp or Boar’s Head sliced ham. I didn’t care about jack fruit. I wanted out.
I heard about Tech Elevator, a coding bootcamp in Ohio and Pennsylvania, on NPR. I was driving to my parent’s house for dinner. I met my wife and daughter there. It was six months into my career at Fresh Thyme. When I said to my wife, “What if I learned how to code?” she set her fork down on the table, cocked her head to one side and said, “Do it.”
I have one more week to bone up before I start an intensive, forty to fifty hour a week class dedicated to coding. Until I start drinking from the fire hose of information which will be sprayed in my direction, attempting to teach me something in four months that many people opt to learn in four-year-increments. Day one is 168 hours away. Or, 167 hours away, I suppose. I should start getting used to zero-based numbering…