71) How my Big, Lucrative Contract Turned Out to be the Worst News I Ever Delivered


In my last post you read about the psychological and spiritual effects of Stevie’s chronic pancreatitis on Nadine, Jenner and myself during the 15 years between the ages of 7 and 22. At least, what I was able to describe in 250 words.

In this post you will read about me dropping a big bomb on the family. After moving them from California to Minnesota in 1986, then Minnesota to Massachusetts in 1989, I was going to uproot them once more, to a far off and cold climate.

IC Drawings Inc. Begins and Ends with the Maxim Integrated Contract

My little firm’s 12-month contract with Maxim Integrated in North Chelmsford, Massachusetts had expired and was renewed for a second project of 3 months duration. At the end of the 3 months, expectations had been put in place, I would be hired as a Mask Designer employee with the company. The project proved extremely difficult, due to the process technology used in my layout (only two layers of metal with which to connect hundreds of transistors) but inexpensive to fabricate. Therefore, going forward, we were to use more of this type of design even though it made the task of layout needlessly, in my view, challenging. Not wanting this type of long-term brain damage, I decided to move on.

Spark of Excitement

“Randy, I don’t know if you will even like Fort Collins, Colorado, but Hewlett-Packard (HP) is looking for contract mask designers and I could give them your name if you want,” my friend David said.

Being from Minnesota I was used to folks stereotyping a geographic area based upon the perception of its cold climate but on hearing David’s invitation, all I could think of was John Denver and his song “Rocky Mountain High”. In fact, I could hear it in my mind.

I hadn’t yet told the family we would have to sell our home in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

I had enough of the traffic, high prices and provincial attitudes in New England, and I was sure Nadine felt the same way. When I broached the subject later that night, I found out I couldn’t have been more wrong. Although Steve’s pancreatitis was in full bloom, he and Jenner had made friends and were looking forward to their middle and high school experiences.

Preparing to Deliver News of My “Great” New Achievement

Steve had taken up Kung-Fu at Yang’s Martial Arts Academy and was tearing it up. Jenny surprised us with a beautiful voice and was getting voice lessons. Each was doing well in school. By this time, Nadine was employed in the Londonderry School District and improving the lives of quite a few kids with whom she worked. So in my wisdom, I pushed out my chest and proclaimed to the group one night at the dinner table, “I have just signed a long-term contract with HP in Fort Collins, Colorado and your Mom and I have decided to sell our house.”

At age 46, I still didn’t have the awareness as a Dad or a husband to understand why they reacted with silence. Worse, since I was to begin my contract in two-weeks, I wouldn’t even be around to help Nadine sell our house in New Hampshire (or look after Steve).

I was such a bone head because of my insensitivity. But when I  set out to do something, I was a Ninja. Straight up.

Did you ever make a family decision so unpopular, you began to doubt yourself?

Next: Working as a Mask Designer: Compensation, Benefits, Politics, etc.

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