Lame Duck Time

I gave notice last Wednesday, and I’m now in the strange, strange phase of winding things down at my job.

On Friday I stood before my bookshelf in my office, trying to decide what to bring home, and I started to tear up a little. It wasn’t that any of the books carried any emotional resonance; it was just that they were attached to events that had occurred over the years, and thus were part of my life. I couldn’t help feeling nostalgic.

I have all these things in my office:

  • A heavy metal paperweight with the words “Dwell in possibility” embossed on it, given to me by L
  • A maraca given to me by E
  • A key chain that looks like a little man, and a very strange metal five-pointed star with chains hanging off it, both from India, given to me by K
  • A blue glass spiral Christmas ornament, given to me by F
  • A pin saying “Kind” that I got at a rally near work that I attended
  • A pin that says “Obama” in Hebrew given to me by an old man in the supermarket near work
  • A shiny gold metal card with Hindu prayers printed on it, given to me by an orange-clad monk near work
  • A kaleidoscope with my company’s logo

It’s too painful to throw them away. Instead I will bring a shoe box to work and pack whatever fits. I’ll put it in the basement. One day, I’ll open the box and remember all the crazy times. I have half a mind to print out pictures of my favorite people from the intranet, because I won’t be able to remember later. But that seems too weird; almost obsessive.

In the end, I wasn’t too much of a wimp to quit and try something new. But I am too much of a wimp to tell the truth at the yet-to-be-scheduled exit interview. I’m not one to burn bridges. There would be no point in complaining about anything; nothing would change. Nothing ever changes there.

 

 

 

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The Amazing Morphing Chicken

I chickened out and decided I couldn’t afford to take the job. I sent the email to the company president, not turning the offer down, but essentially saying I was going to have to. And then I spent the evening awash in sorrow. I didn’t talk about it and I did my normal activities, but I was grieving. I was actually astonished at how deeply and purely sad I felt.

The next day, while I was at work, my husband called me to ask whether I’d taken into account a certain fairly high biweekly expense, which would mostly go away with the new job. As it happens, I hadn’t; somehow, the expense had seemed exempt from consideration. But when added into the mix, the difference in salary became much better. Not gone, mind you, but better.

My husband felt bad for me and doesn’t want me to be sad. He wanted to find a way to make it work for me. Knowing this, I immediately sent another email to the company president saying, maybe I can do it after all…if it’s not too late. I was sorry to have abandoned my position of power for one of groveling, at least that’s what it felt like. But, it also felt like I was giving up my chance to escape, and that felt even worse.

Absolutely, the offer is still on the table, he responded. Is that an acceptance? The husband and I spent a few hours feverishly recalculating, looking up turnpike tolls and alternate routes, remembering past recurring expenses that, somehow, had not crippled us though they were high. In the end, there was no way to know for sure whether it would work. But in the end, I un-chickened out and accepted.

I gave notice today, and that was strange. In one conference call, my announcement was met with dead silence for an uncomfortably long time.  Many people I told in person stood there with their mouths hanging open. Of course, others were like, “Congratulations, good luck!” Not fazed.

I still haven’t spoken to the person who is most responsible for my feeling like I needed to leave. To be fair, there are many factors, many situations, many issues. But one person made several bad calls that affected me in a very personal and negative way. I am not one to burn bridges, so I will need to reign myself in and keep it light when I talk to him (which will be on Friday). “I’m ready for a new challenge!” But he’s not stupid. He knows.

Clang Clang Go the Jail Guitar Doors

I was so excited today, I started writing a resignation letter. Luckily, I didn’t actually give notice.

The to-be, or I guess would-be boss sent me an email to notify me that an offer would be coming from the company president, modified based on our discussion last week. In other words, I successfully negotiated! They were upping the salary and/or the vacation!

I checked my email every 5 or 6 seconds, until the letter came. It was cordial and enthusiastic. They were increasing both the salary AND the vacation! Hallelujah! But wait…what does this part mean?

They pay 100% of the employee’s healthcare benefits. Fabulous. What about the employee’s family? I wrote for confirmation, and the answer was: Bupkes. Can I pay for family benefits? Why certainly. We’ll get back to you with the amount.

Tick…Tick….

It turned out to be $1100 a month for them. Like, $1300-some a year out of my pay, which, even with the negotiated increase, was less than before. I should mention that my current work pays almost all of the healthcare.  So in other words, about a $20K pay cut. That is, unfortunately, not workable.

Eyes swimming with tears, I drafted morose letter to the president professing my sincere, emphatic desire to work for the company. My admiration of their culture. My certainty that it’s a great fit. And my little, financial problem that remains despite their generous increase in offer.

So far, I have heard nothing back, but what I expect to receive is a letter regretfully withdrawing the offer or at least not modifying it.  I mean, they really like me, I really like them, but they don’t know me, and I’m sure they don’t want me to be one of the highest paid employees, sight unseen. I think that’s what would be happening.

So, back to the drawing board. I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to cutting off the flow of calls and emails from recruiters, and not spending so much time on job hunting. And I was looking forward to an adventure, and to being happier! But I didn’t realize that it would have been an adventure in foreclosure and bankruptcy; not what I had in mind.

There is still the tiniest flicker of hope while I wait for a reply, but it’s best not to cultivate it.

To be continued…

It’s Not Everything

Reminder:

Easy-Peasy — Easy-Think-of-Your-Own-Description,-For-God’s-Sake

X is everything — No, it’s not. It’s not everything.

This construction? Don’t use it.

Because sentences.

OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move back to the job offer.

When we last left off, I had just gotten word that an offer was coming. What’s happened since then is that I’ve had a preliminary, pre-offer discussion with the guy who would be my boss.

He said that, because of my experience, they were going to offer me the very top of the salary range for the position. He kindly cut to the chase and gave the numbers everyone wants to know the most.

Now, I have a friend who is a master negotiator. Months ago, when I thought an offer was coming from a certain company, but instead I was just being strung along for months, she had worked with me to develop negotiation scripts for a variety of scenarios. Because I had a heads-up that the potential boss would be calling me, I’d reviewed the scenarios just before the call. That was key. Without that, I don’t know if I would have been able to do any negotiating. Oh, I know it’s what everyone does, or at least is supposed to do. I know employers expect it. But it doesn’t come naturally and I haven’t even had the opportunity to negotiate for many years.

So I said, “That’s great! I’m so happy to be getting an offer from you. I’d love to join your team. My current salary is X; is there any way we could get closer to that?” There is a 12K difference between what he offered and what I’m making, and I felt that there was no harm in telling him the my actual salary, so that he’d see I’m not being greedy or extortionist, but that it’s a significant pay cut.

I also asked for more vacation. The salary, he said he’d have to ask the president of the company. The vacation, he said he thought he could do.

He will get back to me. Of course, I’m terrified that they will decide to rescind the offer based on my audacity…but I hope not.

Many things about this job are worse: the commute is longer. The pay will be less, even if they give me a few thousand more than the initial offer. They don’t give nearly as much toward the 401K. Even the health benefits may be more expensive. But, the job itself is better. The company is better. I think I will like the work better; in fact, I think I will love it. I think I will finally look forward to going to work again, and enjoy the day rather than getting through it.

After all this time, it’s a huge step to take. But I’m thinking, if I don’t take this opportunity, I am choosing to suffer. It would be so cowardly as to be shameful. Why am I living? Is it just to have a large amount in my 401K? And the fact is, things aren’t so bad. It’s a perfectly respectable salary that they’re offering. Some companies don’t give anything toward the 401K. I do have something in there, after all these years. So, not taking this opportunity would be disgustingly timid.

So I’m going to do it.

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!