Tuesday, March 28, 2006

All You Need Is Love… sort of. . .(Part#2)

After a fairly short night’s sleep, the following morning I met John Love for our ‘pre-meeting’ breakfast meeting. I wrote a little about that first meeting in my “Reflections” post back in September. In addition to learning a bit about one another, John gave me the low down on their situation.

They’d hired a local consultant, who’d previously written an application for them successfully, to, in essence, rewrite the small application she’d done, and take everything to the ‘next level’.

It was now, eight or ten months, and $50K (as I recall) later, and they had no idea where she was, or even if what she’d already done was in line with their needs. Although, he continued, they ’suspected’ it was, and all they needed was a plan to get to the finish line.

I’m not sure why, but by the time we’d finished breakfast and had made plans for me to meet the “Data Processing” committee at around 10am, he’d all but convinced me I’d been wrong in my initial assessment.

Four hours later I was hustling to make an earlier flight back to Nashville, with a pad full of notes, and about a hundred suggestions I was weighing over for their situation.

I wrote up about half of my assessment on the plane, and finished it that evening back in my Brentwood “Studio Plus” apartment.

In short, I recommended they devote one internal staff person 2.5 days a week to the project, keep the original consultant for her knowledge and understanding of what had been done so far, and bring in one full time contractor to meet their self-imposed 90 day timeline to completion.

I faxed it all off to Bill Patton in Greensboro (a PC fax was just the ‘stuff’ back then!!), along with my bill for time and expenses, and a reiteration of my inability to be available for any of this future project work.

However, that didn’t dissuade neither Bill, nor John, from deciding they just had to have me for the job. I remember telling Bill that the gig I’d lined up in Florida was just too sweet to pass on, I was already committed, and, for a lot more money. His last words to me on that call were “Well, how much would it take, if, your other client would agree to wait 3 months to start their project?” (for the record, bad, bad question to ask a mercenary!) Me, I added 50% to the other client’s rate, and tossed the number at him.

Well, he choked on it a bit… and while he was doing that, I added that I would not even talk to my client, until his had agreed to the rate. We hung up and I was confident I’d successfully priced myself out of the running.

It had been fun though (I was feeling like quite the 'star' and all), I went back to NDC recharged, continued to crank out the bug fixes, and even got a chance to work with their database admins a bit on some changes I’d proposed to simplify coding, and improve the overall speed of the application. I really was on a roll and feeling pretty good in general!

That following Wednesday I heard from Bill again, he’d called to tell me his client (that insurance operation) had agreed to the rate, and not only wanted me to start ASAP, but, they’d like me to make another weekend trip ot two to get some more information, and meet with the current consultant. “So, when do you want to set this up for?” he said. I reminded him that I still had to talk to my guys in Naples, and I wasn’t too optimistic about their willingness to wait. I agreed to call them the next day, and to let him know what the outcome was the next evening.

To make this long story shorter, the guys in Naples thought January was a better time frame for them anyway, and I agreed to take on the Burlington project at W.E Love & Associates.

I know… I’d said I’d never work for a Doctor, Lawyer or Insurance operation again, but, cash talks as they say, and I was listening.

It was about this time, I started referring to myself as a "Coder of Fortune”, a programmatic mercenary, coding for the highest bidder… it got a lot of laughs, but it also wasn’t far from the truth!

The project at NDC wrapped up without incident, during the next two trips to Burlington I found a one bedroom, furnished apartment (for about half of what I’d been paying in Brentwood) with a 90 day lease… things were coming together nicely.

Too nicely, if what you’ve read so far hasn’t already shown you, whenever things go too well for me, the universe tosses me a little curve, just to keep me on my toes.

Next… the “Love project” gets underway. . . and it's a rocky start. . .

As always, I appreciate you stopping in, and the love you show me by leaving a comment!!

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Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...

"whenever things go too well for me, the universe tosses me a little curve, just to keep me on my toes."

That is just SO true . . .

(anxiously awaiting Part#3)


Bill said...

Liz - Heh-heh... it definitely is for me... sorry to hear you've had the same experience!! I'm hoping to write part #3 tonight... but it's bowling night so it might be tomorrow... Thanks again for stopping in!

Trevor Record said...

It actually isn't too uncommon at all for contractors to consider themselves mercenary. I've heard a lot call themselves "ronin", probably because they think it sounds cool.

And I think the curveballs are positive, they keep you from stagnating.

Firehawk said...


"Coder of Fortune". That's classic. I think that the opposite of what you say is also true: when you think everything's going straight down the toilet, life often throws you some sort of flotation device so that you can get through. Looking forward to the continuation.

Bill said...

Trevor - Not now... this was back in 1993... "ronin" is probably a reference to the legendary masterless samurai... sort of the same thing..

Curveballs ae indeed one of the spices of life!

Firehawk - Yep, it definitely is true as well... I think it's one of the reasons behind the old "It's always darkest before the dawn" saying.

It's all about balance... there's no up without down kind of thing.

Jada's Gigi said...

The univers is into doing things like that for me too...those curves, darn em! Life could be sooo sweet! :)

Lorna said...

Bill, you're lucky to be able to remember this stuff so well. It makes for good storytelling.

Bill said...

Cheryl - Life is sweet... the curves just remind us it doesn't *have* to be... As I look back, even the times I thought were tough, at the time... obviously weren't that bad

Lorna - Or.. I'm cursed with not being able to forget any of it!! :)

I'm glad you're enjoying the story... the truth is, I'm leaving a ton of details out, just so I can get the basics down... it's been an "E-ticket" ride, that's for sure.

Bill, you're lucky to be able to remember this stuff so well. It makes for good storytelling.

Comfort Addict said...

I'm still with you, Bill, and ready to read part three.

Bill said...

CA - Thanks bro!