True Interview Stories: Johnny Got His Gun

True Interview Stories: Johnny Got His Gun


John Grillo


Alright, I promised more funny interview stories. I’m letting most of mine age several months but this one happened recently and it’s a real  gem.

I was sitting in my home in Hillsboro, Oregon, home when I reached out to contact a few recruiters. Namely, in Eugene [Lane County, OR], Seattle [King County, WA] and Austin [Travis County, TX].  The first lady to get back to me was from Austin, Texas. Which is funny, as I could have sworn it would have been the Planet of the Hobos…otherwise known as Eugene, Oregon, according to Futurama.

So I’m talking with this nice lady from Texas and she starts asking me why I’m interested in leaving the Hillsboro area.

“Actually ma’am, I don’t consider it the Hillsboro area, I consider it the Portland Metro area, but the difference is a small one. I spend much of my time working in the Portland area such that I consider it my home rather than Hillsboro. Hillsboro is great, but it’s a one company town. That company happens to be Intel. Ok, we now have Solar World as well. I kid, I kid.  But lately, I’m feeling that the market here is saturated and I’m not the only one. The FTE positions seem to be going to the man from Denver, the woman from New York but not the men and women of Hillsboro, or Portland or even Eugene, Oregon.  Can’t say I understand why, but it seems like the jobs made here aren’t going to the people here. Even the paper of record, The Oregonian, pointed out that we are a tech outpost, not a tech hub. The natives get short term contracts. So I figure, why can’t it work both ways? Why can’t more people move down to Austin or Denver? Heck, I’d live back in Eugene in the opportunity was stable.

So why Austin, asked the recruiter?

“Because as I said, Hillsboro is nice, but I need a chance in scenery. I‘d prefer to live someplace warmer as well.  And I hear that Austin is hurting for tech talent and thought I’d take advantage of that. Contracts were nice and it exposed me to a wide variety of technologies to give me a broader range than most people do and freedom to do it. Now I want a home. That’s the takeaway. I want a home. My motto is “Have gun, will travel.”

“Oh my god, you have a gun! That’s great! You’ll fit right in here!” I can’t remember the last time I talked to someone on the phone with the same level of exuberance as she had. “What do you have? I own a Colt Python.”

I seized on that piece of information. “Colt Python? Isn’t that Rick Grimes’ gun from The Walking Dead”?

She, the recruiter, conceded that yes, it is and she was inspired to buy it after watching the show. I conceded that no, I did not own a gun, but that I really enjoyed shooting a .22 rifle while I was in Boy Scouts.  “I regularly made quarter club at camp.”

“What’s that”?

“That’s where you are able to shoot all your rounds inside the circumference of a quarter…“

And for the record, I did very well. I’d probably do better now that I’d had LASIK done.  We talked a bit more about relocation to Texas and while a relocation package was preferred, it wasn’t necessarily mandatory as I’d evaluate it on a case-by-case basis. Because 70k/annum with just a relocation package vs. 70k/annum vs. 70k/annum with a health plan are fundamentally different deals being presented.

The good news I discovered (and that for some reason, the recruiter just didn’t know, which is puzzling) is that Austin, Texas has a lower cost of living [I go ahead and just call it COLA since there would be an adjustment.] These numbers are from NUMBEO alone.



To have a $4,800 lifestyle in Portland, Oregon (which essentially encompasses Hillsboro and Beaverton as well). Also, earning a $70,000/annum living in Austin, TX would be the same as earning $82,620 in Portland, Oregon. Something tells me Hillsboro wouldn’t be far off. Housing is 23% cheaper as well. All in all, Portland is 18% more expensive than Austin, TX. And housing 23% more expensive.


Indices Difference
Consumer Prices in Austin, TX are 16.48% lower than in Portland, OR
Consumer Prices Including Rent in Austin, TX are 10.67% lower than in Portland, OR
Rent Prices in Austin, TX are 0.20% lower than in Portland, OR
Restaurant Prices in Austin, TX are 3.83% lower than in Portland, OR
Groceries Prices in Austin, TX are 24.39% lower than in Portland, OR
Local Purchasing Power in Austin, TX is 14.56% higher than in Portland, OR


So any money spent moving down there would eventually be recouped through just living down there.   The recruiter appreciated my understanding of purchasing power and cost of living.


Why this makes me the perfect employee:

If I were hiring other people, I’d understand how to sell them on moving to your location. I know how talk and explain things to how they appeal to others in terms of their best interest. For example, I’d say “While I understand that 70k may be a bit low, you’ll recoup that money based on the cost of living. Housing is cheaper, as are food an utilities…”

I’d also listen to what the candidates were saying so I wouldn’t confuse the words “I own a gun” with “Have gun, will travel.”

On a personal note, I probably will be the cheapest relocation deal ever. Most of my things fit into two suitcases.   I live light, travel light and relish experiences, not things.

–John Grillo out.



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