Three Boats and a Helicopter

November 12, 2003

There is an old joke about a man trapped by a flood who refuses rescue in three boats, and later a helicopter. His reasoning is that God will take care of him. After he drowns and reaches heaven, God says he shouldn't be here. The man says I waited for you to take care of me. God replies, I sent you three boats and a helicopter.

It occurs to me that the latest rate reduction being forced upon my by my sole client is, if not the helicopter, the third boat. In the three years since I have held this engagement there has been an unending stream of stress. If my contract wasn't up in the air, payments on my invoices was delayed for months. If payments were on time, the project was in jeopardy of being cancelled.

I have doggedly weathered the increasing flood waters here. I took a 10 percent cut in rate after the first year here. I nearly went bankrupt trying to survive slow payments during the second year. This past summer was filled with worry about whether I'd even have a contract or not. And I dug a deep hole in back taxes with the IRS that will be difficult to escape. Now, less than a month after getting a new contract, unilateral cuts are being required by the State. In my case a cut of 35%.

I think that the TAO, or God, has other things in mind for me. Staying here is not going to work. If I insist upon staying in the face of this third boat, with the helicopter off in the distance, I deserve to drown in the quagmire that is consulting for the State of Illinois.

It is time to accept the suggestion to leave.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.