I know, it doesn’t sound much like what the newspapers are saying, but I’ve always enjoyed bucking a trend.
We keep going through these cycles of stagnation and action, over and over again. We race through the cycle compared to most people, because stagnation isn’t really an option for us. There is a point in the cycle, however, that is stressful and exciting and irritating and labor-intensive, all at the same time.
We’re there. Right now. Or maybe one small step past that point.
I’m talking about the point where we’re resolved to settle some short-term questions and knuckle down for a while. Where we’re open to opportunity and keeping our options open, but seeking the best path forward with an eye to following it.
Moving to Baltimore was a direct result of tearing ourselves out of a stagnant period – back from India and depressed about it, back on a boat and happy about it, working for West Marine and depressed about it. The bottom line was unhappiness with Norfolk/Hampton, with the driving, with the bosses, with the expenses. When the census applications showed signs of fruit, we did what it took to make it happen.
Now here we are. My job pays pretty well. We more-or-less like our new neighborhood, though the ubiquitous dog shit is a real irritant.
We moved onto the dock for Getaway Sailing and immediately got wrapped up in figuring out whether or not we’d be able to adopt the company and make ourselves happy there. That answer was not slow in coming. For financial reasons, for business-style reasons, the answer was no. However…
Getaway was for sale and a new owner with an influx of energy and money would change everything.
Meanwhile back at the ranch…
Carefree, the boat club James had been dockmaster for in Hampton, has locations up here. As a franchise, the various locations have individual owners and James had conversations coming from all directions. He started juggling opportunities. One owner dabbled in the idea of buying Getaway and having James run it. Another took James on a tour of his locations and introduced him around the organization. Wined and dined (or beered and dined, I guess), James kept an eye on the possibilities and the complicated geometry of which had the best combined experience of boss, boats, job, environment, etc, etc, etc…
And I was working on the books for Getaway. And talking to parties interested in buying. I imagined an Office Manager/Bookkeeper position that also did business development. James imagined a Dockmaster position that ran the fleet and facilities with a good dose of storytelling and community-building. But it wasn’t moving fast enough and the pressures to decide were getting stronger.
So James accepted a job in Edgewater, MD. This job lacks opportunities for me and means an hour-long commute to the census building. It’s well-supported with a great mechanic staff, plenty of dockhands, a dynamic boss…sounding good. I could look for work in Annapolis and reduce my commute to a biking distance…maybe. It’s a short-term irritant with some long-term potential. However – it’s motor city…not a single sailboat in the club location.
This decision didn’t do it. It didn’t settle in and become our new direction. It felt temporary, conditional. We discussed, again and again, what we would want, how we could be convinced to stay with Getaway. We wondered, again and again, what kind of person the new owner would be, whether or not the interested party was going to move forward and buy.
To confound the issue just a bit more, I got “shortlisted” for Quality Inspector at the census job. Suddenly, I’m looking at a couple dollars an hour more, plus the benefits that I’m not getting as a team lead.
Will Getaway sell? Will we dedicate ourselves to resurrecting and succeeding with Getaway under its new owner? Will I get the QI job? Will James work for Carefree again? Why do we feel in flux if we’re on a path to Edgewater?
So. Last night, James and I were fifteen hours away from sailing. We were going to move south, a six-hour adventure with a new set of photos to be taken, a new set of restaurants and grocery stores to explore, new people and work. The taste of adventure was on my tongue. On the other hand, once we arrived, we would be hours from good sailing – too far up the South River to reach the Bay on a casual evening sail. Another summer of rarely sailing doesn’t sound so good. We looked at one another and said it again – we were off for a new adventure.
Or were we? Just before this moment, we had finally discussed possible employment with the very serious prospective buyer of the Getaway Sailing club. He offered us both jobs but not at the pay we wanted. We had to think.
A good-money job on a government contract. A promotion and raise on that same contract. A waterfront office job and inundation in the Baltimore boating community.
A dockmaster here, a dockmaster there. A powerboat fleet, a sailboat fleet. A rural or city environment.
If you’re reading this because you know me or because you know James, I’d like to know what you think we did. Did we go with the sure-thing jobs? Dive into the most accessible adventure and sail to Edgewater, dedicating ourselves to that version of the next year or so?
Here’s what we did. We wrote a letter. A pretty damn good one, if I do say so myself. In no uncertain terms, we told the prospective buyer of Getaway Sailing what we were worth and what we wanted to do. We told this poor man that we had to know before 9am this morning, Sunday morning, whether or not he was going to employ James. He gets a little leeway on negotiating with me because I can give notice anytime. But if he didn’t say what we wanted to hear, right now, we would sail off into the sunrise. So call as soon as you get this.
When I called him to ask him to check his email, I went straight to voicemail. When I looked at James after leaving the message, we shared a wide-eyed moment of floating hopes and expectations. Would he get the email? Would he agree to our terms? What if he backs out of buying the business? Can we put off a sure thing for a more exciting maybe?
Would we sail away or would we stay?
He called at 8:49pm.
We’re still in Canton.