Monday, June 06, 2005

Does It Bug You When I Do This?

After the huge job fiasco a couple weeks ago, I took a day or two to think about things, then asked my manager (a slightly senior peer) if she'd sit down with me and discuss where I could go from here, what the career path for any of us might be, etc. Totally non-confrontational. We made an appointment for the Thursday after Memorial Day, and I went about my business. I've been working from home part of the time lately, since my back's still hurting, so I was blithely checking my email from my kitchen table late Wednesday morning when I got a meeting request from her. It was for noon that day and it involved the PH Boss AND the HR director. At this point, I started checking for flights to Aruba...

To make matters worse, The Man was out with the car and I had no idea when he'd be back. I'd told him I planned to go in to the office after lunch, but that might be too late. He was trying to clear out our storage unit of the last few items, so the kids were hanging around the house-- I couldn't just call a cab (which, knowing the cabs around here, might have come too late anyway). So I explained my situation and told my manager that I'd be there on time if at all possible. Next thing I know, there's this email with bright-red exclamation points: "You need to be here! Do whatever it takes!!" OK, OK, fine.

By this time, I was getting pretty anxious. I had no appetite even if I'd had time to eat lunch. Fortunately, The Man got home in time, and we all piled into the car and rushed me to the office with a few minutes to spare. I even took the opportunity to finish up some work before going to the meeting. My manager had told me that the PHB wanted to explain why I didn't get the job and I have to admit that I joked, "You know, I can accept the rejection. It's OK if we skip the 'Why I suck' talk."

Well, apparently it wasn't, and that comment only made things worse. Because joking about work is verboten although nobody ever said. I've heard of places where they yell at you for posting Dilbert cartoons on your door, but I'd never seriously thought I worked for one. Until that day. I mustn't point out to anyone else that a national study shows that we are all underpaid; that is "each person's responsibility to find out for themselves," according to PHB. I mustn't imply that the boss's demands for us to do more work are pushing us too hard-- or even me personally. Oh yes, and I mustn't make faces or roll my eyes in meetings. (This comic appeared the day after this conversation; no kidding.) It was bad of me to be honest in my interview, too, and bad of me to work from home, despite the fact that it's been a condition of my employment since I started here. I only do it because I'm too cheap to get childcare, she says. I did point out that Hubby Dearest IS my childcare, and he's on duty 24/7, but the truth is no defense. Oh, and I'm getting demoted for certain.

The next day I found myself interviewing a woman for the position I didn't get. She knows very little about anything we do or anything our customers do, but she's got an MBA and an assertive personality. (Again, see the 6/2 Dilbert cartoon.) Fortunately, I can be a graceful loser, and I think she'll do a fine job. The bosses keep asking me how I feel about her being hired; I don't think they believe me when I say, "I'm thrilled! She's great!" What I'm thinking is, "She has a better chance than anyone of seeing through the PHB and telling her where to get off." Not that she necessarily will, of course, but she might someday.

Meanwhile, enjoy this little ditty penned by my delightful husband himself in honor of my disastrous career situation. It cheers me right up.

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