This falls squarely under the heading of watch what you put out in the Universe, Lady, the Universe is LISTENING!
Someone once described the way intention works like this:
The Universe is like a giant bellhop or one of those wait people at an old style drive up hamburger joint where you place your order from the open window of your car (these things have *got* to be seasonal), wait for it! and then the food comes. Something is just hovering there with a giant order pad and pen looking at you expectantly, well, waiting... and writing it all down... and delivering.
It isn't that you can't shift direction but you'd best be clear in your intention because the Universe is indeed listening.
Back at the end of February, 2006 I'd been working for a tech start-up for about 17 months and I was starting to come unhinged. A fair number of us were starting to come unhinged. The company was starting to come unhinged and when upper management starts to come unhinged all manner of things will happen and uncertainty at the top has a trickle down effect that's more like monsoon season in Arizona than a slow stream down the mountain. It's purely crappy. Packing It In is one of those pieces I felt was important enough to move over from the old site. I think most of us see it coming one way or another and if we're any good at all there is generally a way out even if it just means transferring way the hell down the hall. Some of us are purely stubborn and there's something about, well, it's not that terrible, is it? And if there are two of you and shit happens in cycles and you tell each other after the fact that maybe you're just being paranoid, well then you find a way to put your head down and keep going. Especially if there are some tremendous benefits outside of the department and you're trying to collect just one or two more of those points...
Sometimes the Universe serves it up anyway and it might just be a message you write to yourself.
The start-up from Packing it in came when I'd about had it with the previous start-up which turned out to not be a start-up. I'd been there 10 months and things just weren't working out. A recruiter found an OLD resume on hotjobs (anyone remember hotjobs?) and called me out of the blue - I didn't even know I had a resume posted on hotjobs - and talked me and the company into a job I really didn't think I was qualified for. She looked at my skill sets and said, these are completely transferable. She was right.
Same thing happened with the first non-start-up start-up. I'd taken a sizeable package (almost 6 months) from The Castle as opposed to finding another job at the company during the dismantling of my department and the sister of an employee tracked me down like there was a bounty on my head.
All of this sounds perfect, right? A door shuts, another door opens immediately and I walk right through it. I don't even blink. That hasn't always worked out very well. On the other hand I amassed an incredible skill set and maintained the ability to learn and shift very quickly. I'm not the dreaded 'can't be moved or changed 50 in the workforce'. I'm as good as my resume suggests I ought to be by now.
When I left the last start-up, the agreement I had with David was that I'd take the summer off and then find another job. I needed to rest. I wanted to find out what it was like to be one of those women who stayed home and focused on her kids (under absolutely no illusion that I could maintain this emotionally or financially except for the possibility of throwing myself into backyard farming and never coming up for air again). I got a call from Sparky and he did say with a great deal of authority, 'Time to go back to work, Alecto.'
Just 4 days a month, you clear $125 an hour you can bill either 8 or 10 hour days, just handle their Treasury process, this is a 3 month deal. (there goes my summer) (ok fine) (wait, I haven't touched Essbase since I left the Castle and that's been 3 years) (you'll work it out, you always work this shit out) (but they'll see me being retarded for the first couple of days while I work it out) (they won't be paying attention) (ok)
On the 5th day I didn't go back. On the 5th day my boss called Sparky and asked where's Alecto and was told Alecto doesn't go to work if there isn't any work to do. She'll be back next month. Please send her on Monday. There are things we can do with her. And so the $125 and hour was seductive and by July 5 I was a full time employee (there went the $125 an hour but the salary didn't suck) managing two systems. So much for downtime.
If I go back before The Castle, the only job I ever really looked for was The Castle, the others were just there too.
So there's all that.
I'm sitting in my living room listening to the road crew repave my street. It's just after 10. Technically I'm employed for the next 30 days and then my severance and cobra kick in for another six weeks. After that I really do need to be employed. Oh wait, I have 9.5 vacation days so that's another 2 weeks just about but it's uninsured and around here we don't do uninsured.
I got the phone call at about 3 on Thursday. My boss asked me to come to a conference room on the 3rd floor on the other side of the building. My answer was almost too cheerful. Of course! I'd cleared my desk a week ago. Cleared my desk, my computer bag and sorted it down to two folders, one personal and one 'things I should hand to peer on the way out the door'. I handed him the folder, and put the contents of the other in my bag. I didn't know if I'd be allowed back to my cube at all. Technically they'd be likely grab my back and keys and hand them to me on the way out the door. HR would sort through the cube and send anything personal to my home. I'd cleared *most* of what I needed to clear off the computer. There was nothing I didn't want them finding (I would never leave behind family photos just out of general principle and never leave copies of my resume) but there were still copies of medical receipts I'd like to have and a few other things. If I lost them I could rescan again. I would also have liked the chance to delete the personal email folder. Not necessary but a nice to have.
Peer looked like he was going too throw up, like he was never going to see me again. Unlikely, I said. I'm not our old boss. I'm being eliminated for other reasons. No one is afraid of me. There won't be police cars outside.
It was the most absurd performance plan I've ever seen and I can write a damn find performance plan. It was written to insure that I'd never survive it but it was inherently subjective and if stood up against the performance of the rest of the team (same or similar) or even my boss and if I happened to be feeling litigious it was just awful. I had this horrible need to offer to rewrite it for him with 5 - 10 better examples that were solid and measurable. I understand that you're new to this but your boss is in the room and he really should have been coaching you even if it meant taking it away and writing it for you. This is atrocious. Plus I'm what's called an endangered species, over 50 and female. Add gay and we get red flashing lights. I don't have red flashing lights for being straight but if you go back 2 years I get red flashing lights for being a whistle blower and the possibility of retaliation. HR was in the room. Did YOU not look at this plan?
Suddenly HR speaks up (I really like her, by the way; we started out with a good relationship). You don't have to do this.
There is an alternative should you choose it.
She laid out the alternative and as soon as I understood what they were doing I looked to my left. I looked at my boss and my boss's boss for what I hoped would be the very last time and said
Could we have the room, please?
It took a minute for that to sink in.
They gathered their things and stood in the doorway hesitantly.
Should we come back?
I turned around and looked up at them.
No. Please close the door.
I turned back to HR as the door softly clicked shut.
She was very good about it. I just need to get this out. Please just listen to me for a few minutes and I managed too mostly not cry but it was just built up tension and I told her that. Just too damn awful for too damn long and this is just TOO DAMN MUCH. I've been interviewing but I would have preferred to have gone on my own terms. I may want out of here so badly I'm ready to chew my arm off at the shoulder but I. WANTED. TO. GO. ON. MY. OWN. TERMS. Nobody likes rejection. Plus, um, being unemployed is some scary, scary shit.
What is helpful is this; the first 30 days is a notice period. I have given notice and I am out of the building. Yesterday was my last day in the office although when I Ieft by choice on Thursday I was not required to return at all. I was required to think about it. Think about it. And also, in those 30 days, because you are still technically employed you can tell people you're employed during the interview process. (do you people have any idea how long the interview process takes?! Nobody even gets to employment/salary validation until the bitter end and that's not a 30 day process start to finish assuming I'm interviewing right now which, well, OK, I actually am so this might be useful)
Here is what I thought about:
I thought: Where is my bag? What else do I need to put in my bag? Where is my phone? My wrap on the back of my chair that I brought from my last job which was a Christmas present from someone I worked with. Peer, come with me for a walk to the parking garage elevator. I am taking my computer home but my access will be cut off sometime tomorrow. Our boss cut my system access off at 6:30 the next morning which was foolish. It wouldn't have stopped me from blowing away databases through the file system but it did stop me from writing some additional documentation for Peer. That he's going to need. Like now. Right now. Because some of this stuff, a lot of this stuff since it morphs on a regular basis, is all in my head. I wouldn't be the least bit sorry except for what's going to fall on the head of Peer.
I said this six months ago. Boss, I do not think you know what I do. I said it more nicely. But it was the truth. I'm afraid that most of my department does not know what I did. Peer has a pretty good idea but it kept growing. It will be OK in its own way.
No longer my problem.
NM drove down that night and worked from my dining room table on Friday. He's still here. He'll go home in the morning. I'm OK.
On Friday I took the train into the city and walked however many blocks to the Baryshnikov Center on 37th and something or other to watch Elizabeth's year end performance which I wasn't going to be able to see because of the close. I had a chaperon which was good because I was most assuredly in shock. Not so much unhappy but I think cognitive dissonance is a good way to look at it and the last time I was like this was when boss number one hadn't been escorted from the building yet.
I kept thinking, after I'd made it ok for Elizabeth and ok with for Cletus and even ok for Elizabeth's father who struggles financially as a freelance graphic designer; who is going to make it ok for me as head of household? And then I kept thinking, shit, this happens to men ALL THE TIME. They go home and face their wives and children, all those dependents and they have to make it OK for all those dependents and there is no one to tell them it's going to be ok. No one.
I've never been alone before. That's the difference between when it happened at The Castle (with or without the nearly 6 month package) and when it happened at the start-up. I was with David both times. There was another income.
Men do this all the time.
OK, so I had the second phone interview yesterday, by the way. It was the tech interview and the recruiter said, it's the least engaging of the group and I even had the question in advance and to be honest, we don't use much partitioning so I can tell you a little about it but we don't need to optimize our partitioned databases because we don't have performance issues. So I looked it up and I had some answers but he laid a rat's nest on me and I asked him what he'd done to solve the problem and the answer was not much. I asked if he'd googled the problem and I got a 'huh'? Net54? Anyone? Essbase contacts? Got any of those? No? OK, Essbase blogs? Can't tell which are any good. Really?! Go to user conferences? No?! Going to Bootcamp though. Just now?!
I spoke with the recruiter after the fact. He, the tech, was very clear that there was a disconnect about what the job should be. I agreed. We wondered if he would derail the process. I said I hoped not but if so then they were going to continue to struggle with finding a candidate and it wasn't something I wanted to deal with.
I'll have a half day interview with the hiring manager and above up to the CFO sometime next week. Either Tuesday or Wednesday depending on the CFO's schedule which is still being pinned down.
So this is the job that came out of the ether, shot out from the Universe at the beginning of the month.
I am thinking carefully. I need to breathe. I need to think carefully. I need to be employed.
I got that hole in my knee when I fell off my scooter during a race with two colleagues outside my immediate department during one of the few truly happy moments at TheBigBank. It took awhile to heal up and I still have a scar. It is the best I have to take away.
This is what I have to leave behind. The bleakest workspace since I was 25 and even then the walls were higher and I had more privacy.
I miss the scooter. I miss the the scooter racing guys. I miss about 15 other people out of 1200 I came in contact with which says a lot or very little I suppose. Someone told me the other day that he called my number out of the possible five in our department because my internal instant message greeting read 'don't panic'. I miss being that person for people. I miss doing some things extraordinarily well even if no one actually noticed.
I have some time. I have an appropriate interview suit and dammit, I left my T-Square under my desk. Bummer.
Time to go outside and mess with 47 baby chicks and maybe 48 if the runaway didn't get itself et last night. Nitwits. Every one of them.
Oh. Yesterday. Yesterday I made the last drive to just over the border into New York and dropped off my computer in the lobby. Well, OK, it was a little more than that. HR and I sat and talked and went through the separation paperwork and talked a bit about Peer and then I drove the hell out of there.