One of the habits I have picked up over the years is following my old employers. Initially this probably started as a reaction to the fact I was curious how their stock was doing; over time it has turned into an exercise about how the companies are faring in the industry.
Yesterday I took a stop by the company who is the successor to the company that shut down in 2009, the company that led us to new home. The company itself has passed on but the intellectual property - and many of the people - have coalesced at a new company. They seem to have done quite well for themselves, having moved forward in the last three years and broadened their programs to give them breadth. On a whim, I also went to Linked In to see who I knew working there. All of a sudden a name popped up with a title: "Director, X".
It was my old department.
I immediately clicked through to their Linked In profile. It turns out we had actually met once at a job fair long ago. Our paths had dodged around each other as well: they had worked at a company we received product from, they came to the company I left to start the Firm.
I was overwhelmed with despair. That was my position.
Or that should have been my position. I interviewed for it in 2010, when we were back in Old Home. On a lark, I went in. I knew the people. I knew the product. I knew their systems - good heavens, I helped to write them. But I was in New Home at the time, and would have needed moving assistance to come back. They were a small company and so (not unreasonably) they opted to go with a local consultant and then eventually a Director. The Director whose profile I saw.
I slumped in my chair a bit. This is the worst of all feelings - not that have had an opportunity and blown it, but that you were denied the opportunity in the first place and so never had the opportunity to blow it.
One can make the argument that it makes things seem even worse when such a think arises. I suppose that's true. But when one is never really happy in the first place it just seems to rub salt in the wound, especially when opportunity (or at least the hope of it) seems to have abandoned the shores of your life.
I will keep up with company, of course. They are doing really novel and important work in their field, the sort of thing that if it succeeds could be a game changer. But I will always be watching with a trace of sadness as I hopefully see them march from success to success - for they are marching forward, while I seem stuck in place.