The moving walkway is coming to an end. Please watch your step.
Or, why I’m leaving AndyMark and moving back to South Carolina.
The first time I visited Indianapolis International Airport and heard that recorded message was in July of 2010, where I camped out in baggage claim for hours waiting on a friend of Chris Picone I’d never met (and then Chris).
The second time I visited Indianapolis International Airport was two days later, to get a rental car so I could tool around Indianapolis at will in those pre-Uber days.
The third time I visited Indianapolis International Airport?
That unexpected $500 bill (and then being stranded at O’Hare for the night and missing work, thanks United) put a stop to my off-season.
I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences over the last year and a half here in Indiana — going to FIRST events in eight different states, seeing the Indianapolis 500 in person, helping take AndyMark Fight Night from a thing to A Thing, seeing products I pressed for appearing on other teams’ robots, and a lot of gorgeous scenery.
But it’s come with its own unexpected costs, ones that aren’t really financial like paying Hertz for their wrecked car. These costs show up when I’m hugging my mom before heading to the airport, when Julie and I stare out the window at IND declaring how airports suck before she hits security, when I broom the car off in single-digit temperatures, when I drive 45 minutes to Fishers just to get a taste of home, and yes, whenever I see a 4901 shirt hanging in my closet.
I said last year that AndyMark is the only job that could make me move this far from South Carolina. That’s still true, but as this last season rolled on I knew something was missing. The answer became clear in the end: while I have the best desk job in Indiana, I didn’t want to have a desk job nor be in Indiana.
Last week, I purchased the Bricks 4 Kidz franchise for the Columbia area, which will be launching later this year after I relocate. I slipped down to St. Augustine the Monday after SCRIW for the last bit of due diligence and then training. I’m looking forward to a new avenue to bringing STEAM into schools and any other venue that will have me. (Maybe your venue? Let’s talk.)
Aside from not traveling on AndyMark’s dime anymore, this change does not affect my FIRST participation one bit—the people at Bricks 4 Kidz had no problems with putting that in writing, and I may have convinced three or four people training me to attend the Orlando Regional next year.
Yes, I’m going to thank the Bakers for the last year and a half even as I’m quitting. Both Andy and Mary were incredibly gracious when I dropped the bombshell on them this morning. (Happy Monday, amirite?) I really do have nothing but good things to say about AndyMark as a company, and I will return to the ranks of happy customers in a couple months with whatever FIRST team I end up on. (It’s been 15 years, how else am I going to spend the winter?!)
I’m also going to thank the AndyMark staff for the same. There are a ton of insanely talented people that make that operation work — some of them you know from events, some of them you probably don’t unless you actually go to 2311 North Washington Street. It’s been a pleasure working with all of you, even on the days you try to set a record for headdesks.
I have to thank Lewis Cass High School for allowing me to work with the Iron Kings this past season. It wasn’t the season I wanted, and I hate leaving with unfinished business in the Indiana district, but they have an incredible group of kids and mentors up there in Walton. I know this team has the tools to make something amazing happen.
The IndianaFIRST operation, from the people to the production level, is astounding coming from someone used to the state of things in South Carolina. I hope we can make the latter catch up some day soon.
I did let a few FIRSTers know what I was doing for various reasons, and I thank you all for the encouragement and discretion so I could give my notice the right way.
Indiana, you’ve never left me lacking for stories to tell. Thank you for everything. (Now, I need to pack.)