It Never Turns Out the Way You Think It Will

I started my new job about a month ago. I was apprehensive about making a change after so many years at my last job. Would it take me too long to learn their systems, processes, and culture? Would I be able to make friends, when my coworkers would be so much younger than me? Would I provide any value and deserve the salary I had negotiated?

After a month, I know the answers to the questions.

No, it wouldn’t take me too long to learn the stuff. I’m learning quickly enough. My boss seems happy with me, and I have lots of ideas. In fact I’m incredibly busy.

The work is fun, too. I enjoy it much more than the work at my last place.

My coworkers are friendly, helpful, motivated, engaged, and smart. The company is small enough that they are still able to tightly control this. Being nice is a major requirement for the job. Little did I know, when asked at the interview what my biggest pet peeve was, that my answer of “People being rude” could not have been improved upon. Every morning when I arrive, the one person who starts earlier than me comes over to chat. He’s a real sweetheart. I always have to send him away after awhile so that I can actually do some work. There are one or two other folks whom I’ve gotten to know better and who could turn into friends in time.

Great! You say. So are you finally happy now? Will you shut up about job-hunting already?

Sadly, even tragically, no. There are some problems after all.

Problem #1, ranked highest because it bothers me greatly on a twice-daily basis, is the fucking commute. My brain isn’t too old to learn Jira, Confluence, Slack, Hubspot, or the company’s own application. But it turns out that my eyes are too old to handle the glare of oncoming traffic in the dark. I leave in the dark and come home in the dark, because if I leave later in the morning it takes longer and the sun sets on my ride home. I know that’s a function of the time of year, but at the moment it’s unbearable.

The journey itself is long. I can’t see because it’s dark and because of the glare, so it’s also scary.  There’s construction and long stretches with no shoulder. It’s also too long for my Chevy Volt; I use up the battery on the way to work, so I’m guzzling gas and I hate that. When I get home, since I don’t have a fast charger, the battery doesn’t fully charge overnight. I can’t afford a fast charger because of

Problem #2. I am hurtling toward poverty, somehow. It’s not just the braces I paid for in full upfront because it was cheaper that way. It’s not missing out on two weeks of income. It’s not having to pay COBRA for four people at a rate of $2200 per month for three months (and thereafter having to pay FULL price for the company’s insurance for three people). It’s not having to pay $21 a day in highway tolls. It’s not having residual debt from the last family trip and paying too much for kids’ activities, and not having bought Christmas presents yet. It’s all of those things. I don’t even know how I suddenly became this poor this fast.

So, I need to start looking again. If I can just find a job that pays health insurance for the entire family, and coverage starts very soon after being hired, and that pays a decent wage, I think I will be OK. It’s the COBRA that’s the biggest killer. That’s why they call it COBRA, duh.

But you hated your last job so much, you say. And you like this one. Can’t you just blah blah blah? No, I can’t. Podcasts will not change the fact that I don’t want to be driving for three hours a day.

Also; I did hate my last job, but part of what was happening was a gradual deterioration of conditions over a long period of time. A continuous series of disappointments and insults, bad decisions from on high, and irritating situations that chafed me too much after years of enduring them. A new job may in fact have all of the same problems, but it would have to be truly horrible for me to hate it in a short period of time. The fact is, I am pretty tolerant and adaptable. I know how to make it work, when it comes to some things. I will survive. There’s some truth to the idea that something can be better just because it’s different.

It is a terrible shame, and I feel profoundly sad when I think about how disappointed those people would be if I quit. But I don’t owe them anything other than to work hard while I’m there (and follow the company policies, etc.). They certainly wouldn’t hesitate to fire me if they had a reason. I sincerely feel I’m heading toward financial ruin or a nervous breakdown, or both.

I get up too early and get home too frazzled. I don’t have enough downtime. Whatever, I don’t have to justify my actions.

One more thing! The car is leased and I will violate my lease terms at this rate of driving more than 60 miles a day. So I’ll have to renegotiate I guess, which will mean it’s more expensive. Bleagh.

 

 

Advertisements

Obsessive Comparison

I cannot help obsessing about the potential decision ahead of me–between Job A and Job B.

Job A.

  • Might be a lot of fun!
  • I’d be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, markedly so compared to my current position.
  • Might be an actual financial struggle, after the lower salary and paying out of pocket for kids’ and spouse’s medical insurance. It adds up to about $10,000 per year. That’s a lot of cash! Combine that with the lower salary and I’m already down $17K. I wasn’t making the change for financial reasons, but UGH!
  • Likely to be a borderline-unbearable commute
  • Might be a way to get in on the ground floor of a company that will shoot to the top of its class (it seems to be doing great and is gaining momentum)
  • They like me! They really, really like me. This is important because my supervisors at my soon-to-be-ex job have seemed insultingly indifferent for the past few years.  My colleagues are appreciative, but they’re not the ones giving out raises and promotions.
  • Contributions to 401K are small. Compared to current job, it’s another $10K less per year, so now we’re up to $27K less!
  • Plus commute is much more expensive in addition to longer, possibly $4K per year due to tolls and not even counting gas, so now a $31K per year loss.
  • I think I can handle the lower income, but it certainly wasn’t my goal to have to.

Job B.

  • I might not get hired permanently! Then how stupid would I feel? Really, really stupid.
  • I might hate the work! It might be more bureaucracy and unwillingness to do things better, or even think honestly about doing things better, than my current job.
  • It’s a perfectly fine commute. Negligibly farther than my current commute, but, IF I were hired permanently, it would end up being cheaper because they’d pay for parking.
  • IF I were hired permanently, health insurance would be amply covered for me AND my family.
  • If I were hired permanently, salary would increase from current job.
  • While waiting to be hired, I’d be paid a high hourly rate that would cover COBRA, no problem.

I’m also thinking…I am not planning on working another 20 years. It will be 10 more at the lowest possible end of the scale and 15 more at the highest, I hope. So though Job A might end up being more lucrative in the long run, I might not want to stick around for the long run. It would take a couple of years to catch up to where I am now assuming pretty good raises. But we’ve now already cut into the remaining work years. I’m feeling a little old for this adventure. Of course, I accepted it with no Job B in sight, but now that there is a potential alternative…

Plus I am thinking…At my current job, I had a sort of persona. I would say I was pragmatic and inventive, but I wasn’t necessarily cheerful or optimistic. I can’t say I was much of a leader. I have been thinking that, with either Job A or B, I would change my persona. I think it’s much easier to change in a new milieu than in the current situation. But, in order to get ahead, I’d have to be very optimistic, very can-do, very encouraging. I would have to carefully avoid snark. That would be the path toward ascension, I would think.

At Job B, I don’t know yet what persona would be best, but I would obviously be working to figure that out and become it ASAP. I would be whatever would most increase my chances of getting that permanent position and of being valued and rewarded until I retired.

Why did I not do this at my current job, you ask? It has to do in large part with being forced to do things, and being in a powerless position. There was a reorganization and I was plucked from one department and dropped into another with no warning. My title was changed even though I voiced opposition. Bosses changed, policies changed, bad decisions were made. If you start a job and bad decisions are already in place, I think that’s quite different from seeing one after another bad decision unfold. Over the years, many things worsened.

Going into a new job, I have lost a lot of idealism and gained some wisdom. I am really not interested in starting my own business at this point; and thus, I am subject to the judgment of others. At my current job, the poor judgment became overwhelming and that’s why I am here now, with three days left.

Going into a new job, I would have an entirely different attitude. I’d love to be idealistic again, but it hurts when idealism is abandoned for profit or anything less noble. I’m not saying I’ll be cynical, but I’m not as naiive.

Job B interview is on Tuesday and of course all this pondering may be for naught.

 

 

 

Crossed Fingers Time

Job Interview:

I have had a commute of half an hour for many years. I was trying to stick to that. But I have had to change my parameters, or else, apparently I ain’t getting a new job. The commute for the job I interviewed for this morning is in the 45-minute range. Not great, but possibly I can listen to lots of e-books and podcasts?

I left this morning, but not early enough; maybe 10 minutes later than I had intended. And it was raining. The two made a deadly combo of delay, so that the journey took well over an hour. And I cannot do without coffee. So that plan had been, drink coffee early. Pee before leaving. Drive to Starbucks near interview. Pee and primp, then show up for interview all chill. What really happened was, drink coffee, pee, leave. Drive, and have to go again way before I got to Starbucks. Barely make it. Mutter repeatedly, “This isn’t going to work.”

And I kept thinking, They are going to have to wow me, because I am feeling pretty unenthused.

When I got there, things didn’t initially improve. I rang the bell as instructed, but no one answered. I rang again, and still, no answer. A car drove into the parking lot and a man got out and let me in. “You’re the interview? No one answered the door?” “Yes. No.” He then said his name, and I realized as we were entering that he was, in fact, the company president. I wish I’d been more polished, but really, that’s not my strong point. I didn’t even introduce myself at all.

He left me in a small conference room that had chairs and a couch, but no table, and exited. Eventually, he and the two other interviewers appeared, and we got started.

I think it went well. There were a few unexpected, but not whacko questions (no “How many windows are there in Manhattan”; these were more work-related). I answered one question rather stupidly, when I couldn’t think of a great answer. Oh, probably not catastrophic. I was stumped and babbled a little, and came up with a dumb example. For other questions, I think I did answer well.

I had spent plenty of time trying out their application, and had a lot of feedback that seemed to be well-received.

Toward the end, they asked me if I had any reservations, and I mentioned the horrendous commute and my concerns about being able to take my kids to the dentist. They were reassuring and affirmed that they are flexible and do allow some WFH after a few months.

The job actually sounds fun and energizing. The employees appear happy. They were all wearing jeans! The culture seems healthy. I think I’d like working there.

So now, we wait! I should know by the end of next week.

Also, driving home, the rain had cleared and it wasn’t rush hour. It really did take about 45 minutes (more like 43).

Countdown to…?

The day of my interview is swiftly approaching (Thursday). I am trying to psych myself into a mindset of: whatever happens is great. For example, if they don’t offer me the job, or if we can’t come to an agreement re: salary and benefits, or if I just don’t want to work there for some reason, well, I already have a job! And it has great benefits. It’s just claustrophobic and limiting. My career trajectory is flat, flat, flatlined. I’m bored to death, withering away…no! no! Start again.

It’s a great job, with a prestigious organization (at least to some people). I have a lot of freedom, and some of my coworkers are great. Others, of course, are boorish, arbitrary, closed-minded, power-hungry…Stop! Wrong!

Etc.

I tend to over-think things, so I’ve been Planning Trips on Waze every hour of every day, to see what my commute would be like if I worked 8:00 to 5:00, or 9:00 to 6:00, or what have you. Unfortunately, the best time to commute is 1:00 AM; at that hour, it’s about 40 minutes [emoji making ‘bleah’ kind of face].

P.S. I resolved to post every day, and I’ve been doing that. Tomorrow, however, might be the exception. I have a rather full evening planned, and might not have time when I get home, since I’ll need to get up early the following day. I will report back by Thursday afternoon, however!

Brace Yourself

I took my kid to the orthodontist today, to talk about braces. This day has been a long time coming, since we had to wait extra-long for the baby teeth to fall out, and my son has been teased for having buck teeth. But finally, all the pieces were in place, and we found ourselves in the orthodontist’s lair.

They had the whole spiel down pat. First they sat us in a consultation room and the orthodontist came in, rubbing his hands and chortling “Money! Money, money, money money! How are you! Ready to give me lots of money?” After I assured him I was ready to fork it over, they took kid into the back room for X-rays.

When they were done, they brought the kid and the X-rays back to the consultation room. The orthodontist popped his head in for a moment more to say, “Great job! I’m really looking forward to getting the money!” A technician then explained the types of braces available, and the unpleasantness that would ensue by selecting each type.

My son has said he wanted Invisalign for years, and I figured his compliance was likely to be better if I allowed that choice. Having indicated that we would be able to make a decision when the time came, we then were ushered into to the financial chamber.

There, a young woman recited in a sing-songy voice the different schedules we could select to part with our money. The entire cost will run in the $4K range, and we have the delightful option of paying the whole thing up front for a discount.

I guess the visit was mostly what I expected, except for how annoying the orthodontist was. The guy makes me shudder.

Loose Ends

The bottle of pills showed up in a Yahtzee box.

The 24-hour animal hospital counted the nail-clipping as a tech appointment. The cat actually had two ingrown claws. They clipped them all and charged me $45. A bargain! Probably cheaper than my vet would have been!

I already feel less terrified of hitting that Publish button. Nothing bad happens! Nothing much happens at all, but I suppose my biggest fear was derisive, insulting comments.

A Tale of Two Shitty Events, Sandwiching a Generally Shitty Day

What a crappy day it has been.

It started out with my husband and kids leaving earlier than usual to go to a soccer tournament, leaving me with the dog chores that they normally would have done. The dog, shortly after they left, started barking and swatting at me with his paw, a pretty clear indication that he wanted to go out.

I hate taking him for a walk, because he pulls strenuously and continuosly on the leash. It’s quite unpleasant. He’s not trained, and we don’t seem to be able to train him or get someone else to do it. We’ve tried, and we’ve failed, but that’s a different story.

When I take him for a walk, I need to bring at least three poop bags, just in case. And my phone, and my keys. I usually put on a jacket with pockets, so I can be hands-free and hold on to the leash better. He has a new harness, and I guess I must have put it on backwards. I myself am remarkably backwards when it comes to putting harnesses wrong. I always screw it up.

Out we went, and it was much hotter than I’d thought. Way too hot for my faux-down jacket. He was particularly anxious, and was pulling with all his might. After a short time, my back started to hurt. I have a couple of herniated discs, and it doesn’t take much to exacerbate them.

I decided to go the short route, partially because the pulling and the heat from both the too-warm jacket and exertion were a drag. Then, suddenly, he leapt so forcefully that he got out of the harness. At first, part of it was still on, and he didn’t know he was free, but as I tried to sneak up on him he got wise and ran away.

I can’t run fast; in fact, can hardly run at all. He’s young and spry. And mischievous. I couldn’t catch him, and he didn’t want to be caught. He was cavorting through my neighbors’ yards, sniffing and exploring and reveling in his freedom. I was huffing and sweating, twenty paces behind, calling his name and promising peanut butter. I already know that peanut butter is only a lure when he’s on the leash or in the house. It means nothing when he’s free. But I had nothing else.

Eventually, he ran into a gated backyard and I followed him, latching the gate behind me. He ran near me but not near enough, and I panted and jogged breathlessly behind him. I was terrified every moment that he would jump the fence (he easily could have) and be lost forever or hit by a car. But, just as suddenly, he plopped himself down on the back porch and allowed me to refasten his harness, this time correctly. By this time, I was dripping with sweat and my back was killing me. And I was pissed off, pretty much at everyone. I dragged him back to the pile of poop we’d left behind when he got free, cleaned it up, and managed to get home.

That essentially ruined my day, though. I know it shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t shake my bad mood. My back still hurts and probably will for a few more days. I was too agitated to follow the loose plan I’d formulated that morning. I guess I don’t bounce back very easily. I eventually managed to accomplish everything, but I felt grumpy the entire time.

Things got slightly better by nighttime. I made a quiche that was well received at dinner, and was just about to try to write my daily blog post as I had resolved to do, but took a moment to pet my cat. It was then that I discovered one of her claws was so long it was piercing her foot pad. Poor thing! And then followed an episode of complete ineptitude. I had my husband hold her while I tried to clip the claw, but I couldn’t really tell where I was supposed to clip. She was growling and even biting me, which she does not do. It was unclear whether I was hurting her or just scaring her. Eventually, I gave up.

Bad medical situations have a way of happening when the doctor isn’t open. It’s just one of those Murphy’s Law things. The vet certainly isn’t around tomorrow, and possibly not even Monday due to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. But I can’t bear to make her wait that long anyway. It must be so painful! So I guess I’ll take her to the animal hospital. Yes, I am the idiot who will pay hundreds of dollars to have my cat’s claws clipped. But I am also a softhearted idiot, and I don’t want her to suffer any longer than necessary.

Time to end this crappy day, and hope things aren’t this bad tomorrow!