The first assignment at the Pharma data processing company which will remain nameless was a time of undue stress. First of all, I was ‘sold’ as a SAS expert by my company. Second of all the lead at the client was right out of college and didn’t know the hell what it took to deliver something to a client. He would promise to process a set of data and deliver in a matter of two or three days and the entire team would be slogging 20 hours every day till the results were delivered. By then there would be a new project. It was crazy times like no one had ever seen for us consultants. I would start to work at 9 AM and come back around 5:30 for dinner. After dinner we would go back to work and work till 3-4 AM in the morning. Honestly I don’t remember what it was that I didn’t working so many hours. One of the months I logged close to 300 hours and that was a record! The number of hours didn’t matter for the client or the contract. It was a fixed price contract and the only expectation was that we deliver. It didn’t matter how unrealistic the target was or how many hours we put in. The first five months at this client was truly stressful for me and I decided to tell my manager that I didn’t want to continue. Luckily my manager was a nice person and he agreed to place me elsewhere. There was a plethora of incoming projects and within a couple of days I was placed at a grocery wholesaler in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was relieved. So was Rama. I recall the nights when I used to drive back home in the early mornings, the streets were quiet at that time. At our apartment complex, I had occasionally seen police cars with their emergency lights on. This didn’t make us any comfortable and Rama was stressed out, too worried about me.
Once we got to know that I was moving to Grand Rapids, we planned our move. We packed some of the stuff we didn’t need right away and made our first trip to GR. It was close to March end. By this time we were in Chicago for five months and haven’t had the time to do much seeing around. One of the weekends we had gone to see the Sears Towers with friends and Vikas. Outside of this, a couple of visits to the Aurora temple was the only relief I would get from work. The cold Chicago weather didn’t help either. Thus our drive to Grand Rapids was much welcome. We had come to know another TCS’er was already at this client and when I called him up, he offered to help us with our move and find an apartment. We even left all our stuff at this home. We found a spacious one where most of the team stayed on just our second visit to the city. We liked the place very much. It was way too greener than our place in the Chicago suburb. There was a nice pond and we could see many geese and ducks swimming. We knew Vikas would love the open space and the lawns.