Updated: Jun 3, 2022
So my fifth job after college introduced me to the world of private banking, something I never imagined I would ever get involved in. My apartment turned out to be on the eighteenth floor of the high-rise and wasn't extraordinary in any other way. The balcony allowed a view up and down one street and of the telephone company building directly across that street. Sort of boring but occasionally something would happen in the streets below to produce sights and sounds of interest, like the morning a car flipped over at the intersection at the southeast corner of the block the apartment building occupied, which was easily viewed from my balcony eighteen floors above.
I took a photo of that accident scene which turned out to be the perfect graphic for the SIDETRACKED album of "Songs & Tunes of Circumstance". Never found out who the driver was, but he seemed to have come out of it uninjured, speaking animatedly with the cop as he described what had happened.
So living downtown had its moments. It snowed the fourth year I lived there which was an interesting sight too and sometimes thunderstorm systems moving over city center could generate some striking cloud cover. The ground floor was hit with bullets from drive-by shooter gunfire a couple of times but no one was ever shot or killed as a result, as far as I know. I slept through both incidents undisturbed.
Best of all, though, was that I could walk to and from work each and every day after taking one right out the front door of the building, a left at the intersection and a leisurely stroll four and half blocks north. I enjoyed that and the new job which was located in one building for the first year...
...and in another building the rest of the time I worked for the banking giant. One morning during my fourth year working there, after happily walking the five and a half blocks it took to get to the second office building and riding up the elevator to the floor my workspace was on, three of us exited the elevator and heard a woman still in the elevator with a man call out in desperation "He's got a gun and he's gonna kill me!". We all turned and looked back at the elevator as we all simultaneously spread out to take cover if necessary. The doors closed, we looked at each other dumbfounded for a moment by what we had just heard, then we all hurried to our workspaces to call security and let them know what had just happened. The man did indeed have a gun and did end up shooting the woman after the elevator returned to the lobby, clipping her cheek, before building security stepped up to stop the man and take his gun away from him. I didn't hear any of this until after I got home after work that day and watched the evening news. The incident helped me decide it was high time to move on to better pastures, again.
Both offices had lots of windows (the first one had a window right beside my workspace) so my sunshine dosage remained high the entire time I worked for that company. When weather was lousy I could walk to work underground. I learned a lot, received some advanced training, continued working with leading-edge non-PC hardware and software and enjoyed the experience of living in the center of the city somehow despite the shooting at work and my usual aversion to city living in general.
During this time I finally was able to present my fully-signed, DIY no-contest divorce papers in court where they were begrudgingly signed by the grouchy judge who obviously hated DIY divorces. The finalized decree was processed and declared legal and binding without a hitch. I cheerfully paid the $15 filing fee and at long last was free from that horrible aspect of life endured far much longer than I ever should have put up with it all.Then an opportunity arose which would pave a clear exit path for me to move west to live and work on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. A headhunter called and informed me of a job opportunity in the metroplex area which would pay substantially more than I was currently earning, including generous annual bonuses the bank handed to me at the end of each year. I leapt at that chance and changed jobs again. I also upgraded to a luxury apartment in an uptown location just a dozen blocks north of the high-rise I was living in. I once again had to commute but it was bearably short and life was shaping up to be a blast once again.
At some point during all of this life-vector changing my boss and his boss must have sensed I was about to jump ship because I was suddenly and unexpectedly promoted to Vice President Of Quality Assurance within the private client banking division and they took me over to the plaza where corporate headquarters operated a swanky restaurant on the 70th floor so we could dine and talk about our mutual future goals. The food was good and the talk was good but I thought I might toss my cookies after eating because it was then that I began to sense that that seventy-two floor building was swaying in the wind–a lot–and it was playing hell with my equilibrium as my inner ear refused to accept the reality of the motion.
Fortunately for everyone dining up there that day I did not hurl and in addition to the free fancy meal and promotion I was given a hefty raise and much nicer annual bonus at the end of that year. Of course I thanked the bosses for their trust and confidence in me but did not utter any word or noise which would have revealed my long-term, rapidly coalescing plans to escape from what I started calling the Hard Gray Edge (aka city center life) and that I hoped very much to never return to the center of that city ever again once I did manage to escape–hopefully by the turn of the century. I kept my mouth shut about that and the headhunter working the deal on the new job skillfully kept it quiet too. They had no idea what I was planning to do when we descended the nauseatingly swaying skyscraper where I celebrated the stability of the ground beneath my feet, much to the amusement of the bosses.
I bought a brand new 4x4 2-door Tahoe Sport with a 500-mile range and leather upholstered seats which felt exquisite no matter how long the drive–the perfect ride for taking long roadtrips to remote, high-country locations (sometimes going miles entirely off-road to set camp). I traveled the western half of the north American continent at every opportunity, including a three week vacation driving 2,500 miles (one way) to the north end of Vancouver Island BC to kayak among orca and snorkle among other fantastic sea creatures I had never seen in the wild. My bosses were nervous about letting me take all three weeks of saved up vacation time for some reason. But I returned to continue working and they seemed relieved.
I worked for the banking giant another nine months, my boss quit to work for a competitor, several of my favorite colleagues also moved on. Changes were being made to roles and duties in my department I didn't care for much. So another couple of interviews just a month before my five-year anniversary working at the banking giant bagged the sixth job of my professional career with ease and I began to see the route opening up to move to the Front Range within a year, or less. Eight months later I would be heading out of town and out of state in the Tahoe, hot on the tail of the long moving van hauling all my belongings to the foothills of Pike's Peak.