While downtown this afternoon for an errand, I detoured off the Transit Mall and walked down a block, between the Pioneer Place mall and the closed Saks Fifth Avenue across SW Yamhill. The sidewalk in front of Saks was closed, and some construction equipment and a dumpster were installed there; I knew why. I wanted to know who.
The "who" is my former employer, which won the contract to build the new Portland Mac Store.
The current downtown Mac Store is in the Pioneer Place basement, but I learned about a year and a half ago that Apple had plans to build a larger, more prominent store at street level. It'll be enclosed on three sides by clear walls; it'll likely be very striking. My then-employer competed for the work. The engineers and the marketers showed, among other things, how to take out the old store -- it'll require, for example, first removing the sky bridge between the mall and the old Saks -- and not disrupt downtown traffic too much during the demolition. My job -- yes, I had a small part -- was to make sure my boss and various Apple contacts were in touch, book trips to and lodging in Cupertino, CA, and deal with changes and events beyond our control. (Yes, Steve Jobs's death meant we had to cancel one trip; the people at Apple were understandably focused on the aftermath of that.)
I also printed out a map of directions from the San Jose airport to the nearest In-N-Out Burger, just in case anyone on the proposal team wanted to indulge.
It was a long process of wooing Apple and selling the company, which was my department's job: in short, "You're building [X]? Here's why you should hire us to build it!" That process went beyond the time I was there, of course; but I wondered what the final result would be. I also smiled a bit when I finally heard the project make the news last February; something I'd known was finally known by many people. (Just like...oh, I can't and won't say that. *grins*)
Even with my being gone from that construction company, I wanted to know the final result of the work I'd had a hand in. I've avoided that at times: my 2009 job at an office of a dog show company had gotten so bad, I honestly wanted to forget everything I'd learned about dogs while there and re-learn it. I wanted to keep liking dogs.
I kind of didn't want to care whether the construction company got the Mac Store or not -- I even briefly wondered if I'd give a sarcastic cheer if one of its competitors had won -- but I do care, and I'll be honest: construction can be truly neat. I appreciate it more after two years of learning about construction projects, past and future. I most likely won't be a part of it again -- other jobs are out there, and (I hope) saner jobs, too -- but I'll pay attention.
And I can always change my mind about where I used to work. Safety valve! But why seek out grapes if you want them to be sour?