Master of my own destiny?

Early 1993 I started to look for a job. My first application was for an IT traineeship at Cap Gemini. There were sixteen vacancies. Some 2,000 people applied and 200 of them were selected for a series of tests. At the tests other applicants were telling stories about assessments, tests and job interviews. The economy fared poorly so there weren’t a lot of jobs. Many graduates were already searching for a long time. It was discouraging to hear their stories so I expected to remain unemployed for quite a while.

That wasn’t meant to be. The tests went well and I was invited for an interview and some more psychological tests. In the train on my way to the interview I a guy who had lived with me in dormitory 389-second-floor came sitting on the seat in front of me . He asked me why I was wearing a suit. I told him about the interview. Then he started to laugh loudly. “Your tie is a mess,” he said. “Let me put in order for you.” He arranged the tie correctly for me.

If this event, which appeared mere chance at the time, hadn’t happened, I may not have been hired. The interview and the tests went well. The misfortune during my student years because of not fitting in groups had made me investigating culture and cultural differences. And so it wasn’t hard for me to translate the expectations of Cap Gemini with regard to its employees into test answers. The test results made it appear as if I fitted perfectly into the corporate culture of Cap Gemini. And so I was hired and sent to a junior programming class to prepare for my first assignment.

My self-confidence was low and I had manipulated the test results to make it appear that I fitted in. I was afraid to turn up and felt unfit for the job. But these feelings receded once the class had started. We learned about programming. I was often joking about a programme I was planning to write. It was named DoEverything as it was meant to do everything, which is a remarkable coincidence. Later I discovered that a programme like that may already exist and that we may live inside it.

My classmates were discussing what type of car they were going to drive once they were on the job. I was the only one planning to use public transport. I was not a model employee. One classmate named Ad, who was a cheerful guy coming from the Eindhoven area, expressed his amazement about me having passed all the tests.

The first assignment was a project at the Groningen office of Cap Gemini. For months we had nothing to do. I often went out late and did some additional training. Our project manager was ambitious. He organised project meetings and demanded progress reports tat he could present to senior management even though there was nothing to do. After a few months, the computers and the work came in, so the project manager was busy managing our work. He constantly demanded progress updates.

It soon became clear that we were going miss our deadline at the end of July. Before he went on a holiday, the project manager arranged a new deadline date at the end of August. Once he was gone, things suddenly went smoothly so we were able to meet the original deadline date in July with ease. When the project manager returned, all the programmes were installed. He was praised by his superiors for delivering a month ahead of schedule. Perhaps he was getting a bonus or a promotion too.

My next job was a database job at a telecommunications company. The company had difficulty tracking what their database administrator was doing. I was hired to reorganise one of their databases. This task was taken out of his hands and was given to me, a novice without experience. For that reason he didn’t like me from the start. To make matters worse, I wasn’t following his advice because he was a bungler. That was the reason I was hired in the first place.

There was a fuss because of my disturbed relationship with the database administrator. Cap Gemini sent me to a training called Professional Skills. I was not politically sensitive. It seemed better not to let political expedience stand in the way of doing what’s right or saying what needs to be said. But framing things positively can contribute to a better atmosphere. This is what political correctness is about. Cap Gemini also stressed that I was the master of my own destiny. It was one of their company slogans.

After moving to Sneek I stared to look for a job near home. There was a vacancy for a software designer at an insurer nearby in Leeuwarden. It later turned out that the job included being a project leader. The insurer had split up the IT department in smaller teams that worked on a group of systems for a specific business unit. Every few weeks or so we planned what we were going to do for the next few weeks. The business unit determined the priorities. It worked great because there were few political games like business units competing for resources. The people in the team knew what they had to do so I felt redundant. There is no point in managing something that goes well by itself.

The department was well organised, and unlike anything I had seen before. The atmosphere was friendly. Only I was accustomed to grim conditions so I felt awkward. Even though it may have taken some time I probably could get accustomed to a friendly atmosphere, but not to the job itself. All those documents, meetings, and priorities were boring. Designing and building information systems was much more fun. I had good qualifications for Oracle but the insurer didn’t use Oracle. And so I decided to try my luck as a freelance Oracle developer and database administrator. After all, I believed to be the master of my own destiny. But an ominous incident suggested that I was not.

Featured image: Cap Gemini logo

parking licence

Events in my life related to 11 September

All these accidents
That happen
Follow the dot
Coincidence
Makes sense
Only with you

State of emergency
How beautiful to be
State of emergency
Is where I want to be

– Björk, Joga

Accidents, emergency, coincidence and connecting the dots. Behind it all could be some kind of love affair. Emergency and 11 September are closely linked to each other, not only because of the number 911 being the emergency services telephone number in the United States. Was someone destined to make sense of these coincidences? If there are messages hidden in pop-music then this could be true. In any case, there have been a few peculiar coincidences related to 11 September in my life.

Marcel is my brother in law and 11 September is his birthday. On 11 September 2001 he turned 33 years old. My sister Anne Marie had booked a trip to New York for them both as a birthday present. In the morning she told him that they were going to New York the next weekend. That afternoon the terrorist attacks took place. They had to cancel the trip. They went to a holiday park in the Netherlands instead.

On 11 September 2010, just after midnight, I turned around in my bed. Suddenly the bed collapsed, leaving me wondering on the ground. After standing up I saw that the time was 0:33. A few moments later I realised that it was 11 September and that Marcel had turned 33 on 11 September 2001. That was nine years before while nine is three times three. On the same day two plane incidents occurred at Eindhoven Airport.1 There have been several intriguing coincidences in my life referring to the lady from the dormitory. She now lives in a suburb of Eindhoven.

On 11 November 2009 (11/11/11 as 2 + 0 + 0 + 9 = 11) I went to the town hall to pick up my new parking licence. The number of the parking licence turned out to be 009011. It was valid until 27 November 2011. If you compress the numbers as numerlogists often do, then 27 November refers to 9/11 as 2 + 7 = 9 and November is the 11th month of the year. The years (20)09 and (20)11 also refer to 9/11. The remaining digits are 20 and 20 = 9 + 11.

The initials of my last name are KI. When translated into digits (A=1, B=2), you get: 11/9 or 11 September in European notation. My first name starts with B, which can be translated into 2. Hence, my initials consist of the numbers making up the emergency services number 911 and 112. Perhaps that is not impressive but the following will make you wonder. I was born on the Iepenstraat, which means Elm Street in English. The horror picture A Nightmare on Elm Street was released on 9 November 1984 (11/9 American notation) in the United States and on 11 September 1986 (9/11 American notation) in the Netherlands. Now that is spooky.
Aaahhh!!
In the spring of 2011 I saw a German car with licence plate KLE-KI-911 in Leeuwarden while biking to my work. This car passed by a few times around the same time near the same spot. The first time I only noticed the number 911 so seeing the car multiple times made me notice the extent of the coincidence. KLE are the first three letters of my last name, while KI are the initials of my last name. Dutch licence plates linking my name to 9/11 in this way do not exist. The car appeared in the Netherlands where I was going to my work some 200 kilometres from the home town of its owner.

In the spring of 2013 I put the apartment on the ground floor of our house up for rent. A young woman applied for it. She was born on 11 September 1990 it turned out, and so she had turned 11 years old when the attacks of 11 September 2001 took place. A few days later I called her to inform her that she could rent the apartment. When I called her, her father had just been hospitalised. He died a few days later.

Featured image: Plumes of smoke billow from the World Trade Center after the September 11 attacks. Michael Foran (11 September 2001). Public Domain.

1. Vliegtuig in problemen landt op vliegveld Eindhoven. Nu.nl (2010). [link]