Wednesday, July 21, 1999

Start up 2.0

Summer is the smaller of San Francisco’s two seasons of winter, and for the umpteenth Sunday in a row I bought a mocha to battle the fog. There are caffeine ATM’s every few stores – starbuck interludes between overpriced furniture shops, double malt liquor stores, and remainder bookstores.

Usually the fog doesn’t make it down the peninsula to San Mateo where I work – in summers my father as a child used to travel there to escape the cold city. As a kid I would go to Cape Cod and visit my cousins on my mom’s side, but this summer with a new job in yet another start-up means no summer trip.

The job itself has a strange sense of stability. In my previous three jobs after four months my first boss would be on the verge of quitting as the company would be about to make (or was recovering from) a near fatal business mistake. In such places you only see the rocks in the road instead of routes around them.

I carry the employment at will caution with me. Thrice scorned, I don’t think that any job can be the one, but I don’t mind traveling with less angst. The side effects are that I don’t write as much but exercise more. I enjoy taking a class on Java, but don’t have anecdotes explaining messed up deals with the Peoples Liberation Army or missing time sheets from Brazil.

Now there are little nits of the place: “Build your own desk” day seemed neat in concept, until it was pointed out that the prisoners in Gulag Archipelago did the same thing. 24-hour service means that I carry a luggable cell phone on Sundays. Some weeks I must scrub through scarcely commented code in Access 2.0 to support some cranky legacy client and start to think that it is bad in the same way as running into an ex while slightly drunk is. But in comparison to worrying about career pivots and resume objective statements, these are small.

Small like the fact that the new air conditioning unit at work hasn’t been set up properly. There is a constant trade wind blowing down my cubicle that grows stronger as it gets hotter. I wind up wearing the same North Face wardrobe I use during the weekends and evenings in the city. At first my boss did not quite get my wander-from-the-north fashion, but after a few visits to check up on me and the code he realizes that “yes it is really cold here.” I smile and nod happily knowing that my current difficulty can be solved merely by a sweater and a touch of understanding.