I’ve been very quiet here because I’ve taken a monumental leap in my life. I’ve decided to leave the only employer I’ve had since college and go work for a much larger manufacturing company. I’ll be doing pretty much the same thing I’ve done for the past thirteen years, but the pay is much better, the opportunities are plentiful, and the working environment is much more to my liking—jeans every day, oh yeah!
Not that I didn’t like my old job. It’s just that when you sit in an extremely quiet office all day, the silence broken only when someone calls or stops in for help, and this is a regular occurrence for thirteen years, you tend to go a little crazy. Plus I had reached a ceiling, knowing I could really go no further both in my position and in the company in general. And I hadn’t received much feedback, positive or negative, in several years. Add to that an uncomfortable tension that has developed over the years due to a conflict between a favored coworker and myself (a whole other story for another time), and it became apparent to me that I needed to move on. Fortunately a better opportunity presented itself, and I didn’t hesitate.
Obviously you never know how one might interpret the words you make public, and so I’ve been refraining from posting. I will continue to be very neutral and moderate with my text, although I’m sure anyone who regularly reads my blog knows my political, socio-economic, and religious views already. Still, I’d rather not paint my house neon green, if you know what I mean.
I did want to share one amusing story, however. In college I worked in the computer department of a mail processing plant. I was replacing a guy who was leaving to take a better opportunity, and they hired me prior to summer. I worked full-time all summer and then was tasked with hiring and training someone else to help out when I went back to school, knowing I would only work part-time at that point.
So I hired a person who eventually became a close friend, and together we ran the computer department for two and a half more years. This was a family owned and operated business, and most of the family members worked there—husband and wife co-owners, the wife’s sister working as the office manager, another sister working as the shop manager, and yet another sister working as the accountant. None of them, in my opinion, worked very hard, but I was young and brash at the time, and so perhaps my viewpoint was a bit skewed. Nonetheless, my coworker and I were literally tasked to do it all. Not only did we have to set up mailings in the computer, but I configured and replaced computers and peripherals and set up the little network, pulled confidential files from their enormous file storage building (often required to climb rickety ladders and carts 8’ high with no mention or concern for my safety), answered all the calls, entered financial information into Quickbooks, operated bursters (huge machines that trimmed and separated forms), sorted mail, etc. It was beyond crazy all of the tasks demanded of us.
One fine Saturday morning, my coworker and I were tasked with going in to complete a job that needed to be printed and mailed first thing Monday morning. We arrived early—7:30 AM—and noticed that the owner’s husband’s truck was parked suspiciously behind the one building. In other words, if someone had driven into the lot, he/she would not have seen it there unless he/she exited the vehicle and walked down the sidewalk to the office door. My coworker and I went into the break room and punched in, and the entire place was dark save for the office area that led to the computer room—which should have been dark as well. We proceeded through the door, opened the computer room door, and saw the owner moving quickly toward us in the dim light of a desk lamp. He angrily asked what we were doing there, and when we informed him that the business manager told us we HAD to come in that day, he went to her office, shut the door, and we could see on the phones that he was feverishly making calls. We could hear him shouting to whomever it was that he'd called, and then he simply left without speaking to us.
We thought it was all a bit strange, of course, but then things became--for lack of a better word--disgusting. We had always known that one of the owner’s pastimes was viewing questionable content on the web. This was back when dial-up was the only way to connect, and people didn’t really have any clue about temporary internet folders and clearing their browser history. And this guy was just sick with some of the stuff he looked up. I won’t get into specifics, but many of his searches involved the words “teen” and “animals.” Yeah. Disgusting.
So on this day we settle in after the owner leaves, and the first thing we notice is that the main production computer was on. My coworker had used it last the day before, and he knew he had turned it off prior to leaving, so we figured that the owner must have been doing “research.” So my coworker turns on the monitor, and the home page on Internet Explorer 4.0 appeared. He nearly closed it, but then he paused, looked to me for reassurance, and then moused over the back button. I nodded, he took a deep breath, clicked it, and sure enough was greeted with extremely graphic and objectionable material.
But that’s not the end of the story. Oh no. A few minutes later, after we finished laughing, I heard my coworker say, “What the heck is this?” I looked over, and he was kicking something on the ground. He bent down, then sat up with this disgusted look on his face that was priceless. In one hand was the owner’s wallet. In the other hand was the owner’s belt. In other words, yeah, his belt had been taken off and his pants had been on the floor where, most likely in a scramble when he heard the door opening, his wallet had fallen out of his pocket.
My coworker was horrified. He asked if he should just put them back. I screamed, “Yes!” He then got up, went out to the bathroom, came back and sprayed Lysol over EVERYTHING. And I laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants.
And then the absolute worst happened. The owner’s truck pulled up outside, and he came into the office area and straight into the computer room. He still had a ticked-off look on his face, but he then sheepishly asked if we’d seen his wallet. Can you imagine how awkward that was? My coworker looked like he was going to say no, but he knew the owner would just come over and look anyway, so he bent down and retrieved the man’s wallet and belt, stood up, and handed them to him.
The owner looked a bit surprised to see his belt. Like really surprised. Like, “OK, you caught me” surprised. He took his belt and wallet silently and simply left. And we didn’t see him for the next two weeks. He was in the building, but he avoided us like the plague. And it was so painfully obvious that his wife and the business manager even asked if something had happened between us. We just shrugged our shoulders. Really, what were we going to say to this man’s WIFE??
Luckily I didn’t stay at that job much longer. And my coworker was fired a couple months after I left because they accused him of screwing up a huge job. I was called to testify at his unemployment hearing, which of course was a blast (not), and at one point the business manager stood up and screamed at me that I was a liar. Like she literally stood up, pointed her finger across the table at me, and screamed! It was so awful that the referee instructed her to leave the room. The whole situation was so messed up—they had fabricated dozens of write-ups on my coworker, and these were minor things that I’d done numerous times over the years without getting into any trouble. When it came to this massive job that my coworker had apparently screwed up, I discovered that it was actually the other computer guy they’d hired to replace me who was guilty of the transgression. Needless to say, my coworker received unemployment, and the referee spent ten minutes chiding the owner and his crew for the "evidence" he'd presented.
And then, unbelievably, I received a call from the owner a week later begging me to come in and train the new people. After having just lost me to new employment and firing my coworker, they had nobody who knew how to do the job. You can’t make this stuff up! Of course I declined. No way was I going back there.
So I’ve had some bad bosses in my career. I’ve only actually worked at five different places—a lumber yard the summer after high school, a college work-study job doing computer work, a grocery store in college, that mail processing plant, and the job I’m leaving now. I won’t rank my bosses, but I can honestly say that the boss at the job I’m leaving was by far the best, and of course the owner of the mail processing plant was the worst.
Everyone has horrible bosses throughout their careers. In the movie of the same name, I’d say all three bosses portrayed by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston combined were the equivalent of the owner of that mail processing plant. And it wouldn’t surprise anyone to know that I haven’t spoken to him in thirteen years and probably/hopefully never will again.
But I’ll miss my boss at the job I’m leaving. He’s a great guy. I’ll miss a lot of people there, actually. My coworkers, clients, vendors. When you work somewhere for 13 years, you create lasting bonds with people. Lots of people. And when they announced that I was leaving, my inbox was overwhelmed with well wishes. How touching is that?
In the past I’ve talked about how people always think the grass is always greener. I haven’t accepted my new position for that reason. It’s less about the color of the grass and more about the perspective with which I’m viewing it. Or really viewing the world. Will the grass be greener at my new workplace? Possibly, probably, hopefully. But is it a new place with a different dynamic with different people in a different industry. Yes. Sometimes you just need change to grow. And that’s what I’m looking for now.
Sorry to write a book. It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to write, so that’s what you get. I’m hoping this is the start of me posting again regularly. If not, I think you’ll understand why.