Monday, August 01, 2005

Faith Walk: Chapter 7

This post is part of a series of journal transcriptions from my second retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, KY during May 28 to May 30, 2004.

Sunday May 30, 2004 12:25 AM EST (Part 1)
I have just returned from the Pentecost Mass service followed by lunch. Back to my epistle. I really want to finish journaling this story today, if possible, but as in my speaking, my writing is long-winded (long-inked) and disjointed. I resume with Friday May 21, 2004.

It is my last day in the office at CIC. The lawyers have me scheduled for testimony in Philadelphia on Monday, May 24, and for Wednesday the 26, if necessary. I am booked to leave on Sunday at 1:30 PM and to return at 6:15 PM Wednesday just in time to make it to the Rush concert. I tell Mark and Ritchie that I will not be in the office next week because of the Philly trip through Wednesday, another interview with EASI on Thursday, and leaving on this Gethsemani retreat on Friday. The interview with EASI will be my third and last. They called this morning to tell me they wanted me to come in so they could make a formal offer in person. Mark, my boss, notes that I am done since the following Monday is Memorial Day and after which I am no longer a CIC employee. I acknowledged he is correct. I do not go to lunch with Mark and Ritchie as I am fasting for young John’s test for cystic fibrosis. Shortly, after they leave, I get an email saying John’s tests were negative; he does not have CF! Praise God!

A strange, hurtful thing happens this afternoon. Mark, VP of Engineering and my boss for the last five years, leaves in the afternoon without saying a single word to me—no goodbye, no good luck—nothing. This is a man I prayed for, in his presence, when his wife was diagnosed with a tumor. The tumor was benign and treatable, but it was a very stressful time for him and his wife. I leave him an email telling him I am surprised by his abrupt departure, but I also tell him I have enjoyed working with him and I have learned much at CIC. I also attach a file that gives him a roadmap to all my documents and how to handle my items of responsibilities. Mark has my book, Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road. I wonder if I will see it again. He was supposed to have returned it earlier in the week having had it for several months and never reading it. Like everything else with Mark, you have to hound him for what he promised to do. Contrarily, if he needs something from you, you had better get it done fast and perfect. I do not look forward to the book retrieval process.

Ritchie is pleasant and we exchange goodbyes and best wishes. Jon, the President of the company, is at his mountain retreat in North Carolina. He has been nice during the last few weeks. We talk on the phone, as we are partners in the ever-changing schedule of the arbitration. He is to testify after me. His last day is also on May 31. I am told by the attorneys that Jon has been going to bat for me behind the scenes. Despite the efforts of Jon and of the lawyers defending Exelon, our parent remains mute regarding any severance. I guess they feel they have squeezed all the blood they need out of this turnip.

My friend Chuck, my Ingram contact, calls to see how everything is going, and I tell him. He laughs when I tell him some of the statements Kaj made in my last interview. “Another candidate is the one I really want, but he cannot start until July, and I cannot wait that long.” “If you come on board and do not carry your weight, my team will cut you off at the knees.” Kaj was whom Chuck reported to, and to whom I would report. Despite these comments, Ingram is where I want to work.

So I head to Philly on Sunday. I do well in the testimony on Monday and Wednesday, at least according to Paul and Rich, the attorneys. I personally felt that it was a mixture of good and bad moments, but they say it went well. The judge sustained many of the opposing Counsel’s objections making it difficult for Rich to ask me the questions he wanted to during his direct examination. Both Paul and Rich tell me I did well in making sure our points were made during the cross-examination.

On Tuesday, my day off in Philadelphia, I call the head of HR at Ingram to inform her that I am receiving another offer on Thursday. I convey that I want to work at Ingram, but that I will find it difficult to turn down an offer while facing immediate employment. I do not want to push Ingram, but I also do not want to eliminate myself if I am still in the hunt. She tells me I am on the final list.

Wednesday, while I am waiting for my flight, Ingram calls to set up a Thursday interview at 4:00 PM to meet other executives in the Barge group that I have not talked with. Wow! The Lord is working! I tell her that I will try to postpone a decision on EASI until the Tuesday or Wednesday after Memorial Day. I have not heard EASI’s offer yet, so it may not even be attractive. In addition, there will be a 90-day probation period, which works both ways. Either EASI or I can dissolve the business arrangement without cause during this period. I could still accept an Ingram offer later, if one is made, and if EASI is not what I thought it would be. I would not do this unless I knew I had walked into a bad situation. I honor my commitments.

My flight touches down in Nashville airport at 6:15 PM Wednesday, and I head directly to the Rush concert. I thought it started at 8:00 PM. Most concerts do. While listening to the radio on the way, I find out that it begins at 7:30 PM. If I had known the starting time all along, I would have just been more hurried and anxious throughout the day. My inattentiveness to the start time printed on the ticket saved me a wealth of self-induced anxiety. I make the show in time, arriving at the parking lot at 7:05 PM. I hit very little traffic coming in from the airport to the amphitheater via Murfreesboro Road. I would have been stuck in traffic traveling my normal route from my home. The show starts at precisely 7:30. Rush has no opening act, and the show is a wonderful three hours long. A fantastic concert! The band is tight and full of energy. The light show and big screen graphics perfectly coordinated to heighten the experience of the senses. Opening night after weeks of stress. I needed this.

Thursday May 27, D-Day, that is decision day. Well, not really. It turns out that Decision Day will be Tuesday and Wednesday next week, June 1st or 2nd. I meet with EASI at noon. They make a decent offer, a very good offer from their standpoint. The base salary during the 90-day probation period is $15,000 below my current—I should say my former—salary, but it would increase by $6000 afterward. Also included is $250 per month to help with insurance (recall that EASI does not provide health, life, or disability insurance); $200 per day for billable travel (they bill my time at a much higher rate); and 10% of the profits for any product or project sales I generate. Additionally, if I can bring them outsourced manufacturing business to consume their excess capacity, I will get a big percentage of the revenue, and it would be my operation to run. One reason I was an attractive candidate for EASI was my long history in the electronics industry. The felt my extensive network of contacts and good relationships with these contacts could help expand their business. Bonuses are also part of the plan for meeting product milestones ahead of schedule.

I am not a proponent of incentive and quota type compensation plans. I believe they often create behavior patterns opposite of those intended. However, EASI was correct, the person in this position can write is own ticket. I am even more convinced though that I would end up in Hendersonville after the 90 days in order to mitigate the intense work schedule. Yet, it could be fun as well as tough. I would be a crucial member of the company.

My Ingram appointment has been moved up to 2:00 PM, so I leave EASI and head directly to Ingram. I meet with the President and with the VP of HR and Legal Advisory. Both of these men are pleasant. Chuck prepped me for my meeting with Craig, the President, and the interview went well. I then meet with Kaj. He shocks me by handing me an offer letter. The base offer is much less than EASI and is $24,500 less than my CIC salary. There is up to a 10% bonus based upon profit sharing, but this is not guaranteed. There is also $0.50 on the dollar matching on 401k contributions up to 5% of salary. The matching percentage is graduated based on years of service until it reaches dollar for dollar. EASI does not have a 401k. I will also receive 3000 shares of phantom stock that can provide substantial pay out later. Ingram provides great health benefits, and I need to factor in professional growth within Ingram.

So on Friday morning, May 28, 2004, I begin my three-hour drive to Gethsemani Abbey with two very different opportunities to choose between. The EASI opportunity offers much better money upfront; an exciting chance to make my own way; staying in my field of expertise of electrical engineering; few benefits; higher risk and higher stress; and a longer commute with a likely move looming. Ingram offers a stable company with excellent benefits; a new learning experience but the risk of a major career change; opportunity to work with my friend Chuck; lower financial reward upfront; and a less stressful environment and an easy commute.
It is 2:40 PM as I begin my second retreat at Gethsemani. I have walked to the top of St. Joseph’s Hill across from the entranceway to the Abbey, and I am sitting next to the statue that adorns the hill. Joseph, with the baby Jesus in his arms, looks out over the Abbey, while I gaze out over the rolling Kentucky Hills and miles of countryside. It is a warm, just bordering on hot, humid day with thick billowing clouds rolling over the hills surrounding the Abbey. Although the sun shines through frequently, you can feel rain in the air just waiting for its chance. When the breeze blows during cloud cover, it is cool and almost damp.

Thunder concussions, deep and vibrating, resonate in from the distance, while bright yellow butterflies chase each other above the high grass around me. Swallows dance over the surrounding meadows in stunning acrobatics performing their dinner ballet. Farm equipment drones peacefully from outlying fields. As with my first retreat, God has looked at my time line, and He has put me where I need to be on this weekend. I could not foresee where I would be, what decisions would be looming, what frame of mind I would be in six months ago when I booked this retreat. God did.


jettybetty said...

So amazing how God works out details in our lives--like when when need to be on retreats in the midst of so much swirling around in our lives! Since I don't know where you work--I don't know how this turns out--I suppose there's another post?

Aggie-ed is an electrical engineering major at A&M! I think I had forgotten you were an EE.

I love to hear (read) how God has worked in your life--it's soooo encouraging!

Amanda said...

Tony, I've said this before, but I am so glad that you're sharing this with us.

Tony Arnold said...

At this moment it looks like one more chapter and an epilogue, which should tie everything together.

Thanks for the encouragement.


JMG said...

I'm sure glad you made it to that concert!


Tony Arnold said...

God indowed humans with incredible gifts for creating music, art, and literature. It would be a real shame not to enjoy them. Sure beats testifying at an arbitration hearing, that is for sure.


Anonymous said...

Good post, Tony. Makes me feel as if I were there in your shoes, which is the sign of a good writer and communicator.

I'm looking forward very much to the rest of your story that you've so eloquently begun.