OK, I've given myself a day to feel like shit about my work situation. And, surprisingly, I feel better about it. More importantly, I've learned a lot from the whole experience.
- Being a contractor is different from being a full-time employee. There are no guarantees either way, but in the latter case, contracts can terminate on a moment's notice and I shouldn't feel badly about one coming to an abrupt end. They've gone to great lengths to explain that it's nothing that I did that made them decide to pull the plug, that it's just one of those things that happened, and if they pick up the project again in the future, I'll be the first one they'll call.
- I am fully capable of doing a lot more than I thought I could. This is the first time that I've worked in the computer business that my life hasn't been tied to the General Ledger system, or the Inventory system, or some arcane report writer or dying operating system, and I felt that I thrived in the situation. Not just did well or held my own, but that I really did a damn fine job and that all of that experience with computers that I've built since working with the CDC 6400 at Northwestern in 1974 came into play here.
- You can teach an old dog new tricks. When I went with this contract, the one concern that the customer had was that I wasn't as strong in the Unix and Linux operating systems as they would have liked. The only reason that they thought that was that I hadn't bothered to include my work experience with Unix (gained in the 1990s and almost immediately forgotten) or Linux (largely gained by installing RedHat 6.2 on my slave hard drive and learning to work with it) on my resume, because I didn't think it would matter. The truth was that I had a much greater understanding of those operating systems than I thought I did. Moral of the story: Put everything on your resume.
- I have solid, transferable skills that plenty of companies can use. I'm not tied to one company, or one type of job, simply because that's what I've always done and that's what I'm "good" at or that's what the "industry" thinks I'm "good" at.
- I have a lot to learn. And, that's what I plan to do for the next while: firm up my understanding of operating systems, scripting languages, databases, etc. and get ready for the next opportunity.
So, that's where I stand right now.