Russia, February 1, 1999
It is time for me to get the hell outta Dodge!
|Well I've gone and done it now!
I know I've said it too many times, that it was about time for a change, and I've tried to change a lot of things in my life, but none seemed to work. This time I think I've made the right change. I hope so anyway, because at this point there is no turning back.
I am leaving PricewaterhouseCoopers. Yes, on 30 April I am walking away from my well-paying, recession-immune, Big-Five, desk-jockey position. I don't think this will come as a shock to my friends, especially Ann . They know that I was never really happy working for The Man, no matter how much he tried to pay for my soul. I am too much of a hippie kid to toe the corporate line . The news isn't going to shock those who were 'downsized' when the Russian market crashed last September, either. They know how much Moscow has changed since then, and the feeling of frustration and disgust felt by all those who are here because we love this country, but cannot stop it from falling back into the mire.
I was surprised by who my news did shock. Those who have been with PW (or CL) for a long time, and are wedded to this work, cannot understand why I would want to leave. My housemate, who also works at PwC, just looks at me and shrugs his shoulders. He is very happy working long hours for the big paychecks they throw at us. The Russian staff is also in shock. My assistants are completely confused as to why I would leave a good job, voluntarily, for nothing (more on that later). They just sat there and shook their heads in disbelief when I told them I was going.
In this country, a job-hopper is someone who changes jobs more than once in their lifetime. Most Russians, in Soviet times, expected to stay at the same profession, if not the same job, most of their lives. There wasn't much opportunity to move, and the Soviet State didn't like drifters too much, either. Now, there is a lot more movement in the job scene, but it is mainly confined to the young Russian elite who move between multinationals.
I guess most of the confusion stems from my next job, after I leave PwC. I don't have one. I plan on doing what I came here to do twenty months ago. If you remember, I came to Russia with the Peace Corps, and it was my intention to spend two years living like a Russian, learning Russian and seeing Russia. What have I done since then? I live like an American (actually a bit better than I did in the States), I speak English 90% of the time (my Russian has actually worsened at this job!), and I haven't seen anything outside of Moscow and St Pete, which any Russian will tell you, is not the real Russia.
Its time I experienced the real Russia! I'm ahead of my life plans by two years now, having cleared up all my debts (no more student loans!), saved a few bucks, and put a big star on my resume, so I'm gonna take a well-earned vacation. I'm gonna see the world!
I took out a map while I was in America, and I looked at where I was, where my interests were, and how I could see the most without backtracking. It took a bit, but now I have a general outline of my upcoming adventure. I plan on heading down to Kiev and Yalta in May (yes, I know, in Ukraine) to get warm and relax in a good sanatorium.
Once I am warm, and spring starts to take hold, I plan on wandering up the Don, then Volga, following the river right back to Moscow. I'll pass through some interesting cities, like Volgograd, the site of the decisive Battle of Stalingrad in WWII, Togliatti, with its massive AvtoVAZ plant, Kazan, as the last stronghold of the Tartars, and Nizhny Novogord, the 'mini-Moscow'.
After the Grand River Tour, I plan on taking the Trans Siberian, like so many others have done, to slowly make my way, via Lake Bikal and Mongolia, to China. Once there, I will wander around SE Asia and Australia over the next several months. I hope to make my way back to Western Europe, via India and the Middle East, sometime around Spring 2001. A good walk-about, eh?
As you can tell, I am in no hurry, I only have to exit Russia before my visa expires late this year, so I will have plenty of time to wander and write for my website. I'm in the process of updating and upgrading my site, as I hope to keep it going, even after the last Russian Border stamp dries on my passport. I'm not sure how radical I will change the site in the coming months, but I am exploring options to make it self-sufficient (all that server space is not free!), and even profitable. If you have any comments, ideas, or just want to send me a brown paper bag full of cash, let me know, I'll accept all with an open mind or open arms.
I sent this page out as an email to my family and friends, and I got an amazing response. So far 100% of the replies are on the same line as my Aunt Janet and Uncle Bill's response below. Oh, just to clarify two things that might be puzzling you:
Subject: 'See the World'
Happy Birthday a bit early from your old Uncle Willy & Aunt Janet!!!
We were shocked too when we read your e-mail, until we thought about it and discussed it for a while.
Yes, I too wanted to work at the same company long hours and try to make something out of myself. The only problem I had is that they weren't 'throwing big checks my way'. However, I did quit the 'cushy' job at Dallas Power & Light Company which supported my purchasing hand tailored suits from Jas. K. Wilson, hand stitched shirts from Neiman-Marcus, and driving a new Corvette Sting Ray. I wanted to work outside and travel around the country. I was tired of being 'cooped up' in a office in a large office building in downtown Dallas.
I went to work for a much larger company instead, but did get to travel around the southwest and work outside and around machinery. I still thought I wanted to stay with a big company until I retired until Janet's father talked me into coming to work for him. Little did I know the pleasure of working for a small company where I could really be my own boss and still have what you might call a boss.
Janet and I think this an excellent time in your life (young, healthy, and no responsibilities) for you to start out and see the world. You are young, out of debt, have a good education in skills everybody is looking for, and have some money saved up so GO DO IT!!!! Once you have traveled around and seen what you want, and want to settle down, you have the skills and background to get a good job. Knowing what I do now, and under the same circumstances, I would do the same thing.
Have a good time 'trekking' around the world and keep us informed where you are and what you are doing. After all, we won't be staying home all the time either!!
Uncle Willy & Aunt Janet