When I speak of change, I do not refer to the sort of change that is so often solicited on street corners and near movie theaters everywhere. I do have to wonder, however, why change is sought and though it is stated to be for the purpose of purchasing food, actual food is frequently refused when offered. Do I have bad food taste? Rather, I speak of the sort of change that is considerably more difficult and which requires quite a bit of personal effort to adapt.
Hoping Not to Beg for Change
So in August of 2008 I essentially went from being a Seattle Slicker to a New York Vagabond — and it wasn’t too long before I had the job to fit the vagabond description. You see, I had been working for nearly five years for one principal client. I was doing web design, helping with search optimization, sometimes putting in 60 hours of work every week and getting paid for every hour of it.
I was rather used to the lifestyle — waking up early and going to bed late yet having the option of sleeping in if I really needed some extra time in bed. As long as I got the work done I could stop at any point in time and walk across the street from my Seattle apartment to the local market to buy asparagus if I wanted to — or sprouts. Apparently I was a little too used to it. About two weeks after I arrived in New York, I got a phone call from my client telling me that I would not be paid that week — and that he would not be able to pay me in the near future.
I started crying shortly after I got off the phone with my client. I had spent much of what I had in savings in just moving my things from Seattle to New York. My plan was that I was going to stay with my friend for awhile until I had saved up enough money to start renting my own apartment, and that would be it. Instead, I found myself immediately scrambling to pay the few bills that I did have every month and borrowing from close friends — quite a humbling and humiliating experience that was, I can assure you.
A Shaky New Job
After two weeks of searching and doing odd jobs for friends, I applied to the job that I currently have — tech support for a software company. I sent in my resume and was called the following day and after some preliminary questions was asked to come in for an interview. The next day, I went in for an interview and it went well enough that I was offered a so-callde “audit” day — I would come in and try working there for a day and we could both determine how we liked each other based on it.
I went to my audit day practically shaking the entire time. I had spent nearly five years comfortably working in my apartment, mostly in my pajamas, and now I was sitting at a desk surrounded by other people that were doing the same thing that I was doing — except that they actually had the job and knew exactly what they were doing. I also had the wonderful pressure of knowing I had upcoming bills to pay and no money with which to pay them. After I was done for the day, the floor supervisor told me that they felt that I had done well but I lacked assertiveness and so they wanted me to come back for another audit day.
I went back to my friend’s apartment and after crying and shaking for nearly an hour, I went online and searched for “how to be assertive” on a few different search engines. I compiled some of the most common occurring results and memorized them to the best of my ability and when I went in the next day I tried to keep them in mind as I did the job. I left for the day not knowing how things would go but only about an hour later the office manager called to offer the job to me.
From Couch to Couch to Bed
Since my original plan to move quickly ended as soon as my client ran out of money, I had to move on to another plan. I started looking for the most inexpensive room that I could find. After a couple of roommate interviews, my friend told me that he didn’t want me living in such cramped quarters and that I would move out when the time was right. Evidently, that time was about six months later as he e-mailed me out of the blue to ask me to find somewhere else to live.
I went back to searching for rooms and was pleased when another friend of mine offered me part of his apartment on the Upper West Side. The catch was that I had to leave the apartment every Friday and not come back until Sunday. Things were really nice in the apartment for about a day until I happened to mention to my mother that there were a plethora of cockroaches that just loved hanging out in the apartment. To cut a long story short, my mother’s concern over my living situation ended up with her helping me to purchase a co-op apartment in the Kew Gardens area of Queens.
I went from adversity leading to adversity to strength leading to strength but I am confident that there will be many more challenges in the years to come but I made it all work out because I really had no other choice. I suppose the other choice was to roll over and lose at the game of life but I didn’t want to let that happen so I fought as hard as I could and thankfully came out ahead. Sometimes when your only options in life are to adapt or to lose, the path to adaptation just makes itself very clear to you.