One of the first things Karen wanted to do when we got back from our honeymoon was find a good job. The job market wasn’t that bad in 1985 and so she had a lot of choices. One ad that stood out was from Oracle. As I said earlier, Oracle was a fledgling company then and hadn’t really impressed anyone with that User’s Conference in Menlo Park. But we were both Oracle Database Administrators (DBA) and that was what they needed.
So Karen answered the ad and they wanted to talk to her right away. They were in desperate need of DBAs and could she come in the next day. Well, that was unexpected, but things sounded like they were looking up. So Karen went on the interview, they loved her (of course) and they made her an offer on the spot. When I got home that night (we didn’t have email or texting then) she told me the whole story about the interview.
At that time Oracle did product sales in teams of two. Both Karen and I had been to a number of these presentations but had never really thought about the two Oracle people. One person in the team was the marketing person. He/she did all the talking about the benefits, costs, plans, etc. The other person was the technical person (Tech). The Tech displayed everything up on the screen that matched what the marketing guy was talking about. The Tech would also be able to answer any of the actual database questions and show, on the screen, how various problems could be solved using the Oracle products. At the time Oracle had plenty of marketing and sales people but they were short of people who really knew the product so Karen was interviewing for the Tech job.
The job paid almost as much as I was making, plus a commission on each sale. In addition there was a quarterly stock bonus and all kinds of incentive plans. Now Karen had just gotten her Computer Science degree and had about a years worth of DBA experience. The rule that ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’ was glaring in our heads. No one had ever heard of Larry Ellison at this point. There were a lot of database players led by IBM in those days and Oracle was basically a start-up. So when someone comes along and offers you literally the moon if you’ll take this job, you have a tendency to wonder about it.
But that wasn’t the problem that Karen had with the job. After all, if the job and the company went under, she could fall back on me. No, the problem Karen had was all the travel. She would be gone for 3 weeks a month for the foreseeable future. She had been married for all of 3 weeks and this was not how she wanted to live her married life. We talked about it at length and her bottom line was that she would choose ‘family over career’. Imagine that. Just to be clear, I had not yet told Karen the story about Sadako, her offer, and my life altering decision. So she turned down the job and soon after found a job she liked that had normal hours and schedules. It paid a little less (turns out it paid a LOT less) but she really liked the job and the people who worked there. Once she was settled into her new job, I then told her about my decision so many years before and why I thought it was important for me. She smiled knowing that our compatibility was growing every day.
Now, where I was working there was a guy named David and one day David came in to work and told the story about how his girlfriend Mindy just got this job at Oracle as a tech support for a marketing team at Oracle. I just smiled and told the story to Karen that night. Then a few months later around Christmas David told us he was going to be away for 2 weeks because Mindy was getting a 2-week all expenses paid vacation with a guest in Hawaii, courtesy of the great year at her company, Oracle. I smiled at that news the rest of the day and when I went home that night I relayed the story to Karen. We just shook our heads, smiled, and agreed that she had made the best decision for her and for us.
But every time one of these stories comes up we just look at each other, shake our heads, and smile. The rest, as they say, is history, and we now know who Larry Ellison is. The point is that you’re not always going to make the right decision in your life. Sometimes it will seem that the mistakes are huge. But don’t dwell on the mistake itself. Instead, concentrate on your path (michi). If you are true to your path, those decisions that you thought were mistakes just become things that you chose not to do, nothing more.
I lost track of David and Mindy, but I’m sure they’re doing just fine.
© J T Weaver