Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Thursday, August 7, 2003day link 

 Lightning
picture Finally some break in the heat wave here. Clouds started forming, suddenly there was a weird dust storm, and then thunder and lightning and it started raining. I hope it continues.

And then I had a hit of lightning myself today. A rather unwanted economic one. The company that has been my most reliable and stable source of income for the past several years has decided to cut down my contract. They haven't been doing as well as they used to, have been losing money actually, and I haven't been doing much of importance for them recently. So there goes $4000 per month. Not exactly a good time for us. What is left is barely enough to survive on, and not really enough for much new furniture or a car or that kind of details.

But maybe it is a great thing. Or maybe it will seem like it when looking back in a few months. The slates are being wiped clear, and I'll have to find new things to do, make new contacts, reinvent myself. Sometimes that doesn't happen without being forced into it. Most of us change rather reluctantly.

It is sort of weird how our current situation has a number of parallels to how we moved to the U.S. 18 years ago. I would really have preferred that I had it all together, and everything just was perfectly comfortable and smooth and carefully planned, but I guess that isn't to be. Most adventures aren't smooth and predictable, or they wouldn't be adventures.

In 1985 I moved from Copenhagen to Los Angeles with my wife and 1.5 year old daughter. I did a quick recogniscance trip first, to learn how things worked and to get a job, but then we just shipped the most essential things and sold or gave away the rest, bought a ticket and left. The exchange rates between Kroner and Dollars were terrible. The money we brought went as far as buying a used car and moving into a little furnished apartment, and surviving for a month. The job I had arranged was as a sales person in a computer store. But after the first month they had to let me go, because they didn't know how to pay me. I was an illegal alien, and hadn't learned yet that that was no problem at all at the time in L.A. One could just go and sign up for a social security number and bank account and driver's license, and then one would look like an American. But I found out too late, and we basically were there, in a foreign country, not really knowing anybody, having run out of money, and no job, and it started looking a bit desperate.

What happened at that time was that I gave up, realized that my planning wasn't enough, and gave myself over to fate. What I actually did was that I walked around and applied for a lot of jobs that I wouldn't otherwise have considered. I was willing to take anything. After a lot of walking around in the hot sun, going for a lot of interviews, I finally got an offer. It was a $6/hr data entry clerk job. I was going to type in names from a phone book. Which I did for a few days, my eyes turning all square.

But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It turned out that I worked for the managing partner of the largest medical group in Southern California, and we actually hit it off really well, and he quickly realized that I wasn't really supposed to do data entry. Rather quickly I was doing financial modeling and developing their information system, designing the whole computer system for a sister company, and before long I was making $100K/year and managing big long-term projects with a bunch of people working with and for me. And I had wonderful and inspiring experiences with some great people.

The point is, it went through a certain cycle of making careful plans, having them all fall apart unexpectedly, starting over and following some kind of desperate intuition, and things ending up succeeding way beyond my expectations, in ways I couldn't have imagined. The problem is, I would never quite volunteer for such a thing, or advice anybody to aim for doing it that way. Even though I know well that it sometimes is necessary for life to treat you that way.

And now, we're in a foreign country where everything is new and different and difficult. We sold and gave away all of our stuff, and shipped some essentials. The exchange rate (this time between dollars and euros) is really bad, so we don't get much for our money. All of it gets used up really quickly for renting house, cars, etc. And then I lose the job I was counting on for security. And then what?

There are other odd little parallels. On the first recognisance trip to the U.S. I smashed up the rental car, and had stupidly declined the insurance and ended up owing the rental company a lot of money. This time the rental car broke down, and despite that I opted for all the insurance, the company somehow has decided that it is all my fault and I ought to pay for the repairs, and for the trouble they have of having two cars 1500km from where they belong. I don't agree with them at all this time, but it is a bit of a deja vu.

Anyway, more later on my search for what needs to happen next. Don't worry. Things generally work out.
[ | 2003-08-07 17:04 | 18 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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