The morning of March 24, 2015 (Cast off Deadline T Minus 341 Days) Andrew bounces out of bed without a care in the world. It is his annual review. His last annual review for who knows how long into the future.
I abandoned ship the night before. If I were a qualified First Mate, I’d top up his shot of rum, we’d sit by the firepit, and together we would imagine all the sea shanties and adventures that lie ahead. As it turned out, I didn’t have it in me. I felt annoyed this was happening before the “shakedown,” and I felt anxious. Should we really let the starry-eyed dreams of our youthful, 22 year old selves rip us out of the responsible, adult-like momentum we’ve built with home and career without even testing it out first?
Yes. We should. And, Andrew didn’t need any encouragement whatsoever to prepare to do so.
Without any help from me whatsoever, Andrew slept like a baby and bounded out of bed like he had no care in the world. He goes through his morning rituals – shower, hair gel, wrinkle free polo, khaki pants, breakfast, socks, steel toed boots, then kisses me on the forehead as he grabs a greeting greeting card with a unicorn on the front he had been saving for this occasion. He tucked a copy of our sailing route itinerary inside.
“I’m pulling the Unicorn Card!” He declares as he foists it in my direction. I take a deep breath and run my finger over the route plan he has tucked inside.
“Oh, golly.” It’s all I can say about that.
I am antsy all day at work. I keep texting him: “Have you done it? how’d it go? Did you do it?” But, I receive radio silence. I burn a hole in the rug between my office and the coffee break room, filling my mug over and over again. Caffeine soothes the nerves, doesn’t it? I obsessively google “Valiant 40, Valiant 40 Blogs, Valiant 40 Sail Around The World” still hoping another Valiant owner might be posting their blog of the wonderful sailing trip they are taking. I need camaraderie, something to remind me that this is a good idea. I am relieved when I am assigned a brief on a short deadline - deadlines are good for inspiring focus.
Around 5:30 p.m., I get a text. “God Damn Millennials!” Then….nothing.
“What’s going on?” I text. “What?!”
I hand the finished brief off to be filed and head home early. I can’t wait any longer! My tires squeal as I take the turn into my driveway, I come to a stop in the garage then turn off the car. Will his boss still be here? I tentatively poke my head through the crack I make in the garage entrance door and listen. The house is quiet, but I can sense the vacuum of space made when the sliding door to the back yard is left wide open. Andrew is sitting next to a crackling fire pit, feeding dry leaves into the flames. The back yard smells of eucalyptus smoke. He’s sipping rum over ice cubes.
“Well….how’d it go!?”
Andrew just smiles and sips his rum. “Good.” I scowl and wait for him to say more.
He doesn’t say more, and this infuriates me.
“Tell me from the beginning! What did you do all day?”
“We mostly worked, we visited a couple customers in the morning. We didn’t get to the review until around three.” I nod, and wait.
“We’re back at the house, and we sit down at the kitchen table where The Boss pulls out some papers to start when he gets interrupted by a phone call.
“Oh no!” I say.
“Yeah! It was a call from the Boss's boss to discuss some ‘issues’ with another starry-eyed dreamer looking to move into upper management.” Andrew knew he was just going to add to The Boss’s list of problematic Millennials; while Andrew waited for the call to finish. When it does, the Boss pulls out the review sheet from last year and scanned it over.
“Before we get too far into this, I want to give you this.” Andrew says, as he flattens his hand atop the Unicorn Card and slides it across the table.
His boss glances down and sees the barfing blue unicorn, which in the moment, strikes right to the core of his current frustration. He might laugh, but such an event is an odd entrée into an annual review. It’s not exactly in character for Andrew to be gifting his Boss greeting cards.
“That’s a funny card.” The Boss says, an inquiring look crossing his face.
“You have to look inside.” Andrew explains.
The Boss looks inside, and starts reading our route itinerary. “What is this?” His Boss asks.
“It is my route plan to sail around the world.”
The Boss reads in an astonished silence. He scans the dates for arrival and departure deadlines. “February 2016....okay....”
He turns page.
“June 2020....TWENTY-TWENTY! Oh. Well....I guess there is no reason to go over this review, is there.”
“No, no, probably not,” Andrew says.
At this point, The Boss begins asking all of the very good (normal) questions people usually ask:
“Who is going?” (i.e. is Leslie on board with this craziness?)
“What are you going to do with all of your stuff?” (i.e. are you just selling up on your whole life, now?)
“Can the boat you have now sail around the world?” (i.e. are you going to die at sea?)
The Boss was a good sport, and he was trying to be excited for all of this. But slowly, the reality of all the work Andrew had just laid at his feet sunk in. Andrew and his Application Engineer, are a two man team who cover an enormous territory, filled with heavy industry customers including a number of power plants (solar, coal burning and natural gas), battery manufacturers, a steel mill, etc. Andrew has been a mainstay here for 9 years, and all the customers are comfortable with his work. Now, Andrew's poor Boss has to find someone to replace his good work.
As Andrew dropped his Boss off at the airport The Boss said: “This whole idea is just beyond me.”
His response definitely made Andrew and I both feel that telling them early is a good thing for Andrew in this circumstance. Andrew and The Boss will have a good amount of time to transition Andrew’s customers. It will all work out.
By the next morning, word spread like wildfire. Andrew’s friends in the light group knew already, The Boss's boss, The Boss's boss’s boss....the list was growing by the second. Andrew's colleague in Reno sent Andrew a text saying Andrew was going to be talked about for a long time. A legend.
Andrew. The Man. The Legend.