Thursday, July 29, 2004

I'm Coming Back

It’s Tuesday. The phone rings. Texas area code. It's my boss. "I'd like to schedule some time with you next week. How's Tuesday at about 2pm?" "Fine with me," I say. "You're in my calendar." "Great, see you then!" he exclaims, and hangs up.

About a month or so ago there was a major upheaval at my company. It turns out that the Vice President of Sales for our Western Division managed to overblow the budget by a cool million, and cover it up. Two years in a row. According to the auditors, the Senior Management should have at least been aware of it. So... the jig is up. Western Division VP is sacked. Senior VP of Sales is quietly moved into a position that carries far fewer responsibilities. (SVP is in his mid-sixties... might as well be nice.) Revolution.

Promote the Eastern Division VP to Senior VP. Move the National Accounts VP to the Eastern Division. Promote the Texas guy to National Accounts VP. Move some internal schmuck to Texas. Find someone totally new for the Western Division. And on and on and on.

I sit in my cubicle watching the maelstrom swirl around me. Careers are changing, some are ending. Salaries are skyrocketing... but not mine. The whole company is watching with wide eyes. I sip my diet coke and go back to my spreadsheets.

I've been waiting two years for this company to either sack me or move me out of this job and into... lord knows what. Because of my connection to a very wealthy client, I had several companies interested in me, and I took the job that let me work from home and paid me the salary I requested. They set me up, I bring along the client. That was the deal.

Then my company changed pretty much everything about my job function, one step at a time. The first thing to go was the home office. Then within six months someone else was working with my client, and I was relegated to churning out complicated sales reports that nobody ever read. I screamed to HR. I screamed to my boss. I had no savings, so I couldn't quit. I was their bitch, they knew it, and eventually I just gave up. Ride the train, bend over, churn out reports and go home. I watched two years of my life drain out of me one long train ride at a time.

7 or 8 months ago, at my last Employee Evaluation, I told my boss to package me out. "You can get someone part time for half the money to do what's left of this job. You can get someone who WANTS to be a sales analyst. Someone better at this than me." "We're not ready to go there yet," said the boss. "Well, let me know when you are," I said. "I appreciate your dedication, and your honesty," said the boss. "Here's your annual raise."


About 4 months later... the Upheaval came. That boss left. Texas boss moved in. Big psycho boss put out to pasture. I'm still sitting in my cube. Here’s your reports sir. Oh, you want that highlighted? No problem.

That was about two months ago. So... fast forward to this Tuesday.

I was looking forward to seeing the new boss. I like him, he's a good guy. He's known since day one that I hate my job, and he understands why. For all that previous time, my boss was his boss. Now... he's the boss. And I have someone who really understands me. Even if I'm trapped here, that makes all the difference.

I brought in a folder with some notes on my current projects, ready to make him feel good about what's going on here in cubicle hell while he's out there learning the ropes as our newest VP. You can count on me, sir. Don't worry about a thing. I sat comfortably in the chair in my slacks and sweater set, hair in a neat low ponytail, knees crossed, hands folded across my file folder. The picture of corporate complacency.

The boss pressed his palms together, regarding me over the top of an invisible emotional wall. "MzOuiser, the company has decided to eliminate your position."

Against my will, a smile crept across my lips. "You don't look too upset about this," he says.

Very subtly, I closed my eyes, made a fist, and whispered "YES!"

The invisible wall crumbles into nothingness. Boss leans back and smiles broadly. "I'm so glad to see you're happy about this. I had a feeling you might take it well."

Come on. This company adopted me from the crumbles of another company that bit the dust. At the previous company, I managed thousands of stores and hundreds of distributors. I was on the phone with fun, vibrant people all day, every day. My job was making their jobs seem easier. I wrote a procedures manual for the systems and distributed it to over 400 people. We had a quarterly newsletter just for the distribution network to my client. I was a communications facilitator. I was the problem-solver. I loved it. I loved my job.

At this company... a few hundred stores and less than 50 distributors. My Toll-Free Hotline is silent. No point to any newsletters or manuals. I was bored shitless. This company just doesn't do enough business with my client to justify having me there. Then, what little communication responsibilities I had left with the client was assigned to this schmuck salesman. My entire reason for existence in those cubicled halls was disassembled piece by piece. And they made me give up four hours of my day and $200 a month just commuting for this.

They didn't pay me enough for me to set anything aside in savings. I couldn't afford to quit, and due to the office’s remote location and my reliance on public transportation, it was nearly impossible to even go on interviews. I had to take a day off just to go to an hour-long meet-and-schmooze. I was trapped. For two years. PLEASE God, I used to pray, Please let there be a pink slip on my desk. Please make them fire me.

It finally happened.

I'm getting four months’ severance. I can not only leave - I will be able to survive while I carefully and comfortably look for a new job. As of 1:00 PM August 6th, I am officially free.

The sweetest part of this is that I am still hopeful that the job I interviewed for last week may come through. If it does... Holy cow. Even if I wait until September to start - a WHOLE MONTH off - I'll be getting double income for 3 months.

That would be enough money to erase my debt. The last burden from my marriage. The legal fees for my seperation. The medical fees from the surgery I had last summer. All of it gone in three months. I would be free from those chains as well.

Right now I am sitting in my boyfriend's living room in South Nyack, looking out his living room window over the top of his laptop screen. The sun is setting over the Hudson river. Everything is rich blues and purples, the trees waving in the breeze, the lights from the other side of the river glowing steadily. The air is clear, the sky is clear, and the path to life ahead of me is clear. My vision is also, surprisingly, becoming clearer and clearer.

I do not know if I will get this new job. If I do, my entire life will change, and I quiver with excitement at the prospect of this new adventure, heading off into a field of my choosing, using my unique talents in an environment I can feel proud of, working for a man I have only once met but already admire. However, if I do not get this job, I will get another one. I am one hundred percent confident that something will turn up for me. I have worked very hard over the last few months, sending out hundreds of resumes, making calls, sending emails, sneaking into dark conference rooms to return calls on my cell phone, networking like crazy – all the while not realizing that I would soon able to stop sneaking around. I believe I will see fruit from these labors. In a way, I already am.

When I was on vacation the week of July 4th - Independence Day - I had my Tarot cards read. The gentleman told me that once I did my work, I had to trust that the universe would then do its part. This is a very hard concept for me. I believed all my life that nothing and nobody would ever "come through for me." I have never managed to attract a mentor or benefactor of any kind. I was never "discovered." I simply have always had to hope that I had no competition for the things I needed or wanted. This was always how I got places – eventually someone would be stuck with me, and I would bust my ass to make them realize how lucky they were. My first Ingenue role at 17. My first professional job. My first singing gig in New York.

I expected the least, and the least is exactly what I always got.

Things are different now.

I don't know how to describe it. I simply believe. I am focused enough to release things that I know are not good for me, but I am open enough to explore opportunities without fear. Relaxed, yet alert. Excited, hopeful, and trusting. Who or what am I trusting? It doesn't matter. I simply trust. Yes, I admit, I am waiting for that other shoe to drop. But I am going to enjoy and exploit every minute until it does.

Maybe… there’s no shoe. Just maybe.

My love is sleeping on the couch next to me. My cat is snoozing contentedly on my bed at home. My mother and father are preparing to drive to New Jersey, excited to see me sing in the concert next week. My closest friends are all snug in their homes with their families, friends, spouses and partners. (ok, some of you are getting sloshed right now. I’ll join you next time.)

There is a rare Blue Moon in the sky, waxing to fullness before our eyes. This is a special time.

I bathe in its light. Blessed be.

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