This is a true story. Descriptions of companies, clients, schools, projects, and designers may be altered and anonymized to protect the innocent.
Editor: This True I.D. Story comes to us from "Family Man," who spots a rather unusual ID job listing and hopes he can chase it down for the betterment of his family. With a wife and two young children to support, the stakes are higher than for you single folk; can he pull it off?
I'm not bragging, but the fact is I designed [something that became pretty famous]. And I know a lot of you designers are in the same boat and did something similar, but never got any credit for it, like I didn't.
You wouldn't think the designer of [famous object] would be making just $40,000 a year, as many units as that damned thing sold. On top of that, as this story begins I had [famous object] to my credit, two degrees in Industrial Design, both a Bachelors and a Masters, and four years of work experience, yet I found myself an underpaid Senior Designer cranking out consumer products at a fairly mediocre company. I can't tell you what I was designing, or where we were located, or you'll figure it out; but let's just say the weather there was hot and if you had children in the '90s, chances are high you used something I designed.
Now I noticed that all of these True I.D. Stories have come from single guys, so my story's a little different. The reason I could afford to have a lousy $40,000-a-year salary in a major U.S. city is because my wife made more than that. We had a four-year-old son and a newborn (also a boy) just eleven months old at the time that this story starts. Between the two of us we made just about six figures, and that was enough to get us a 1,400-square-foot house just outside the city that was about $150,000.
We were comfortable, and more importantly, my wife's career was fast-tracked. All we had to do was wait for a few years, and then something in my wife's career was scheduled to happen, and then we'd have a lot more money. So all we had to do was sit tight. I could stomach designing [certain category of unexciting consumer products] for another four years because I had my eye on the prize, and I knew we'd be able to provide a financially secure future for our two boys.
Well, all of that changed when we took a little vacation.It wasn't a vacation exactly; as part of my wife's job she routinely had to visit [certain type of institution] and I usually didn't go with her. But this time I did, and we were both pumped to go, because it was located in [Cold Weather State]. To explain, my wife and I were both raised in snow country. I grew up on a ranch and she grew up on a mountain. Prior to getting married we'd both found ourselves in [this lousy hot-weather city] because our universities and subsequent jobs brought us there, and that's why we settled there. But neither of us could ever get used to the hot weather and all of the bodies.
The trip was awesome. It felt good to be outside again in a place where you can see your breath, and we even managed to get some snowboarding in. (Well, I did; my wife was on skis.) We had an amazing time, and our life changed in the airport lounge while we were waiting for our return flight. My wife looked me in the eye and said "[Family Man], what are we doing?" I knew exactly what she meant: Why were we planting our family in [Hot Weather City] when neither of us liked it? And was that where we wanted to raise our boys? We decided, then and there, that we were going to move. We were going to find a way to figure it all out.
Back at home, I hadn't even finished unpacking before my wife called out to me from the den, where she was on the computer. She was looking at Coroflot—that's no ass-kissing lie, Coroflot is how I found every single one of my ID jobs—and had found an ID job I could apply for in [Cold Weather State.]
I was skeptical that she could've found something so quickly—I mean, our life-changing plan was still less than 12 hours old at this point—but the job posting was intriguing. Again, I can't get too specific, all I can say is that it was to design unusual vehicles of some sort for an extremely small subset of people, something like designing Batcopters for Liberace. And as the posting ticked off all the technical requirements, I found that I had them all, even though I'd never flown a Batcopter or listened to Liberace. I was in.
I started doing research immediately, forgetting about my half-emptied suitcase sitting on the bed. I found that the design firm, [Liberace Batcopters Inc.], was located at the same address as another ID firm that focused on a particularly cool subset of consumer products. I thought that was interesting but I was unable to discover a direct link between the two companies other than the fact that they shared the same address.
Eventually, I had to get off the computer so my wife could look at her industry's version of Coroflot to find some job leads for her. While the cost of living in [Cold Weather State] was lower, we both agreed that we couldn't do this move unless either A) I got a job making a shitload more money, or B) she could also find promising job leads for herself. We also asked ourselves if we were really ready to abandon her career here, where once that guaranteed thing at her job kicked in, our bank account would grow pretty quick. Our answer was over on the mantle: There was a framed photo of me, my wife and our then-two-year-old son on our first snow vacation, all of us all smiles. We'd rented a cabin up north and it was one of our best vacations to date.
I put our sons to bed, finished unpacking, laid down on the bed and fell asleep. My wife woke me up sometime later. "Y'find anything?" I murmured.
"Three leads," she reported, happily. As I drifted back off to sleep, I was thinking about how I would represent myself to [Liberace Batcopters] tomorrow. [That famous thing I designed], I may not have gotten any credit for it, but it was damn sure going to help me land this job.
All specific names, companies, clients, designers, and details will be kept anonymous to protect the innocent. You needn't write the story out; a Core77 Editor will interview you to produce a write-up (and to be sure you ain't pulling the wool over our eyes to win that sweet gift certificate!).