Living the Dream – With the Money

Money for Nothing

I have been living the dream for decades. How is that possible? Let’s take a look at a little history.

After leaving college in the early seventies, I got married, got a regular job, moved to the Boston area, sired three wonderful children, and then realized that I was not really happy with my life’s work. So what do you do when you have already created so many dependencies but you are not really satisfied?

My answer was to take a job interest test at a local college to see what kind of job might make me excited. The results were eyebrow raising. There was a spike on my graph of work fields in the area of data processing and programming. Meanwhile, I was stuck selling elevators and elevator service contracts. Time for a change.

I looked at the big employers like IBM, Honeywell, Wang, etc. and submitted my resume by mail to 19 different companies. I got only one response and that was from Ross Perot’s company, EDS, in Irving Texas. After an exhaustive four interview process, including a final interview in Dallas, I was hired in 1975 and began work at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts in what was called EDS’s System Engineering Development program. That meant 6-9 months working in the field with their heath care client, followed by three months of in depth training in COBOL and IBM Assembler programming at their headquarters in Irving.

Let me tell you, that training was intense. You went to class all day and then worked on assignments all night and during every minute of break time during the day. At the end, I knew both programming languages very well and could solve complex problems quickly and elegantly.

Next I went to went to work in their corporate data center in Irving after moving my family to Plano, Texas. Now this was an awesome job. I consumed free coffee all day while fixing or enhancing their Medicare Part B claims processing system and feeling like I was really good at my job and useful to my employer. But all things must come to an end.

Feeling underpaid for my skill set, I found a new job back in New England with another health care company. From there I worked my way into the lead design position for a claims processing system that had me commuting between Connecticut and California for over eight months. Boy did that get old after a while.

Finally, I decided that I just couldn’t work for big companies as an employee. I was too busy trying to run these companies from the bottom, and believe me when I say that this just doesn’t work. It was time to strike out on my own.

I could write a whole book about my experiences as an independent data processing consultant for the next 24 years. Let’s just say that I had four or five regular customers that appreciated my system design talents and that I kept rotating assignments between these customers from 1981 all the way through Y2K until 2005, when the market collapsed  under the onslaught of cheap labor for India and other countries. Time to reassess.

I became an employee with one of my former customers and spent the next nine years as an expert in the Pharmacy Benefit Management field doing what I do best – designing and building systems that last and last.

In 2014 I finally retired after my wife and I put away enough money to live comfortably for the next few decades. Now the real fun could begin.

It was time to begin a new career as an independent writer in a field that I have enjoyed since my early youth – science fiction. I had paid my dues for almost 50 years. Now I could set my own writing schedule, mixed in with playing golf and pool and enjoying my many grandchildren.

Hey, do you think there might be enough stories in this long life that I could chronicle in a book? Would anyone be interested? Let me know. Have keyboard, will travel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s