I did not hate all of being a manager and I loved my little team but I missed actually doing stuff myself and I couldn't see spending the rest of my career watching/guiding/helping people do what I really wanted to be actually doing.
Plus, I didn't want to go back to New York. I didn't really want to work in a headquarters location again. I liked being where the rubber met the road. Or at least out of the clouds. Happily, IBM had many many rubber-meeting-road locations to pick from.
I'd always wanted to live in Chicago and this seemed like a good time to do that. I needed to convince Bergren that making a left turn on the career path was a good idea for me. I needed his help to do it.
I started talking to John about the whole thing. He was very supportive. He had a sister who lived in Chicago and a step grandmother who had an apartment right on the Miracle Mile.
But, then he started talking about Seattle. He had lived in Seattle in the 70's and loved it. He had a brother here so came back now and again and still loved it. And the more he talked about it...
So finally, I got my shit together and went in to Bergren and told him I wanted off the career track and I wanted to move to either Chicago or Seattle. He asked me what I wanted to do and I said 'you know what? I don't care.' And I didn't. I was ready for anything. He said ok. 'But, you have to pick one. Chicago OR Seattle.'
I had been to Chicago. Once. I'd never been to Seattle. So my thinking was, I'd move to Seattle and stay my usual 18-20 months, pick up a good branch office skill and then put in for a transfer to Chicago. Bergren thought this made excellent sense and he got on the phone.
He found a nice little job for me right downtown and he sent me off to seal the deal and house hunt. I met my new manager and found out about the job and then met with a realtor.
After having spent 2+ years in California traffic, I gave the realtor a radius - one mile from the office. Find me a condo within this mile. He thought I was nuts. He tried to sell me on the amazing Seattle neighborhoods outside of my mile. I stood firm. So the first place he took me to was the worst neighborhood. He was very open about how dangerous the place was and that he was only showing me this place to discourage me.
So the very first place I saw was the building I live in now. It was a then 75 year old railroad warehouse that had been developed (by two women) into condos and had just opened up. There were maybe 4 units occupied and another 4 sold and 100 available to buy. I loved it.
I took the booklet of info they gave me with all the 20+ different floor plans and went back to my hotel room and laid them all out and debated with myself for hours. I got John on the phone and he and I discussed the pros and cons of each for more hours.
Finally, I decided on the only unit unsold/unoccupied unit not for sale... the model unit. I thought my realtor was going to shoot me dead. (He actually did make me look at other condos in other neighborhoods and one down the street from here but it was a wasted effort.)
I am typing this in the living room of the first condo in the first building I looked at in Seattle. Yep. I've now lived here 26 years and 4 months. Best decision I ever made.
To Be Continued