It was early September 2009 and I’d been working at Curious Group for almost a month when I got an unexpected call on a Saturday evening from Robert, the technical director. He asked if I could make an “off-site company meeting” the following afternoon and, although his demeanour was as cheerful as ever, he made it obvious that it was very important that I should attend. Without hesitation I said I’d see him the following day at the chosen venue, a bar called Home in Glasgow’s Merchant City, and the brief call came to an end.
My mind began running through all the possible scenarios that would require me to attend an off-site meeting on a weekend after less than a month with the company. The knot of tension in the pit of my stomach grew tighter as the results came in. None of the outcomes had an especially rosy outcome.
From the day I started, I’d been tasked with learning a handful of object-oriented programming patterns. It had been educational, sure, but it wasn’t exactly productive and maybe I wasn’t delivering on the promise I’d shown in my interview. The fact was I really needed the job and there’d already been a process snafu that meant I had been paid a week late. That had stretched my scant resources pretty thin, so redundancy without notice would leave me in a perilous position. I swallowed hard at the prospect of having the rug pulled from underneath me when tomorrow came.
In late-July 2009, when I was doing freelance work to pay the bills, a recruiter approached me about a job opening at the Glasgow based agency-of-all-things, Curious Group. I’d long admired the work of Curious’ from afar, having browsed their website showcase even before I moved back up from Liverpool in 2008, so I was excited about the opportunity.
However, when I saw the job spec I swallowed hard. Six years in the sheltered safety of Sony, followed by a gruelling year churning out Python for the purpose of content migration had left me a little rusty as a web developer. More rust, in fact, than I could shake off in the month of PHP and simple front-end work that the freelance project had me doing. But still, I decided I would just be honest in the interview and show a willingness to learn whatever was required should the job come my way.
On an afternoon in early 0ctober 2016, I was having lunch with my friends, George and Adrian when we came up with the idea of travelling to see one of cycling’s spring classics. We usually enjoy a ride together to coincide with the classics, the gather in the pub to watch the race, but venturing to mainland Europe to see one in person was new territory for me. By the time we’d emptied our plates the idea was gathering steam, so I booked a table in Blackfriars for that evening where we could have a planning session.
Later, gathered around a table by the window, we checked our calendars and quickly decided upon travelling to Maastricht for the weekend of the Amstel Gold Race. As quickly as the beers flowed that night, Operation: Amstel took shape.
I took an unlikely organisational role, setting up the Trello board and filling it with to-do’s and ideas as they came to mind, George booked the appropriate flights, and Adrian found us quality bars to visit and a place to stay on Air B&B in the days that followed.
In fact, the whole thing came together so quickly and was so far ahead of us that, over the winter, it was easy to forget that we’d be kicking off the spring in style.