Thursday, May 26, 2005

Lovin' my life

I'm having a great time. For the first time in 2 years, I love freelancing. I am working consistently (so far) and wake up early (early for me) in the morning and go to bed at a decent time and work in between. But I also get to go shopping with the kids or, for instance, take a kid to the airport. I've had lunch with friends and done church work. I am the luckiest person in the world to be able to have this opportunity, and I'm not taking it for granted.

Took Mabel to the airport today for her trip to Greece. I never got on that portion of the Explorica website to see what she was up for today (and tomorrow). Maybe it's best that way because she would have been cranky if she knew that she would have a 4-hour layover in Toronto and a 6-hour layover in London before getting to Athens Friday afternoon. I told her that her foremothers took days, months, and years to travel from Europe to America and then died. So cheer up. With my freelance lifestyle, I was able to take her to the airport, but I did not wait for her plane to leave since she was there 2 hours early.

It was Junior Toga Day for Dorothy. Her big sister just happened to have a toga, complete with gold sandals, gold jewelry, and gold eye shadow. She looked darling. As Dorothy left, Mabel said, "Don't worry if your eyelids start burning. The gold eyeshadow has a tendency to do that, but it is so worth it."

The saga at the former job continues, and I couldn't be happier to be out of there. They told Jay not to come in any more because they didn't have any money to pay him. Then last week, despite Robin's resigning and giving a June 1st end date, they fired her. Fired a 6-month pregnant woman who needs the insurance. No conscience whatsoever. Can you believe the Office Manager asked Robin for a good bye hug? No more driving 40 miles a day. No more eating expensive lunches. No more office politics.

Now if we can just get my husband employed. Our income tax refund came in so we're saved for a few more weeks. Life is good.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Check the title... I am committed.

Yes, I quit my job. It was a strange experience. I had confessed to the office manager while the boss was out of town that I thought I had to quit my job because I couldn't afford to work there. Understand, I'm not stupid, but she was crying over her boyfriend dumping her so I thought we were just chit chatting about life and how it sucked. And before I knew it, the boss called from out of town and asked if she could call me at home because she heard I was thinking about giving my notice. Panic. After I hung up, I went to talk to, let's call her, Karrenn to tell her that she had no right to tell the boss. She said, "Oh yes I did. I'm the office manager and she had a right to know. What if we need to run a want ad?" I said, "I'm a big girl, and I should have the right and responsibility to decide when I'm telling, let's call her, Cathy." She was adamant that she had every right and the responsibility to talk to the boss. And I disagreed. I reminded her that maybe she could have spoken up if (a) she thought I was going to walk without saying anything or (b) it had been longer than 5 days. But 2 hours? Come on!

So Cathy came back into town and called me into her office to talk. All was cool. She understood completely and asked if there was anything she did. I said no. It would have been easy to decide had I not liked the job or the people. It was purely about money and the benefits (or lack, thereof). I did say I didn't think it was Karrenn's right or responsibility to talk for the above (a) and (b) reasons. I would never just walk. I am an adult. The boss said she understood that I had lunch with, let's call him, Jay, and, let's call her, Robin, and that she hoped that they didn't influence me. I said, "I never had lunch with Jay, and the reason everyone can go to Robin to talk is because she listens so well and doesn't interject her opinion." I knew that Karrenn had opened her mouth and wasn't just talking for me but was starting rumors. That was influencing my decision more than anything. She obviously couldn't keep her mouth shut and now she was making up stories. The boss offered me more money, but trust me, she would have to have doubled my salary for me to change my mind. She said she would give me until Wednesday to decide.

Wednesday came and by that time, I was avoiding everyone at work so the beotch of an over-zealous, power-that-goes-to-your-head office manager could make up any lies. I shopped at lunch, ate by myself, walked around. But I did go in and give my 2 weeks' notice. All my buddies (that's YOU) had supported me in my decision before I even went back into Cathy's office. It was the right thing to do. My face never flushed. My heart never raced. She asked if I would freelance for the paper at $12 an hour because she could never afford my regular rate. I agreed, much too hastily, but thought a sure 25 hours was better than weeks or months where I may not get any work from my old employer. The newspaper part of my job, the recruitment (or hassling) of authors (lawyers and doctors) was least favorite part of the job. Why had I agreed? And for a measly $12 an hour?

I continued to give 100% of myself. The squirrelly guy they hired at the same time they hired me would take over my job. I was to train him. Cool. I did my job and taught him whatever I could with a happy face. I never had another conversation with the office manager for fear my words would get mangled. It wasn't worth it. By Wednesday (2 days before leaving) I had lunch with Robin, and we talked about so many things. I had really grown to like her. She was going to be careful, too, with her closeness with Karrenn, never trusting her again. There was a discussion about the non-compete agreement that Cathy wanted us all to sign, and now I would sign the independent contractor version. There was some wording about not working for a publisher that might be considered competition. I felt uneasy about it, and after e-mailing the paragraph in question, my lawyer told me not to sign it. So I went into work early last week and tried to tell Cathy that I couldn't sign the agreement and, therefore, could not work as an independent contractor for the newspaper. Because I could not get into her office all morning, I e-mailed her with my decision so she did not waste time on an addendum with my job specs. Little did I know that Robin was giving notice that afternoon. It was turning into a soap opera.

By Thursday I took the IT guy who was to replace Jay, let's call him Ray, out to lunch. All I said was that he needed to be very careful when talking in the presence of the office manager (who thinks she is the HR department of 1). He said that he might come off as naive, but he had already figured out that she was the mole. Smart guy. I really really liked him. He is amazingly brilliant and so very kind and would go out of his way for anyone. I didn't want him walked on or hurt in any of the office politics. He assured me he was well aware of the atmosphere. I was impressed with him even more than I already was. What a neat single dad who was there because of the flexibility. I assured him he could find that flexibility with more pay and not so many rumors in a lot of companies. Don't sell yourself short, I told him. I redid all the client files and taught my replacement a lot of the new chores I had learned, but had not finished showing him everything. That would have to wait till my last day. By the end of the second-to-the-last day, the office manager, who I had been civil with for the past 2 weeks, asked me for my card to the building and key to room. I thought that odd and asked her how would I get into the building on my last day. She said I could park and come in the front. I said, "Yah, I guess you're right." She said, "And this way we won't forget tomorrow."

The next morning on my last day of work, Cathy called me at 7:30 in the morning to tell me she wanted to give me a gift and decided to give me the day off. I hate driving on Friday the 13th and told her that was a really thoughtful gift. I never got to say good bye to Robin or Jay or Ray. When I hung up, I told my husband I thought it was a little strange that she gave me the day off as a "gift." I was glad I had brought everything home that I had at the office, a few books, my pens and a cup. Nothing too big, but things I would have obsessed about had I left them. Then I remembered that Karrenn had asked for my card and key the day before. I really couldn't have stayed away had I still needed to return those. Was it coincidence that Karrenn had asked for those items on Thursday so I never had to return? I think not.

Glad to be away. It was a good experience in that it taught me to get my ass out of bed in the morning and go to bed at night like real people do. It taught me that no matter how far away I am from an office job I can pick up where I left up and hit the floor running. I was so down on myself and thought I could never do that again. It also taught me I hate office politics and mean people who kiss ass. But it also taught me that I truly like working from home and being close to home. I am very lucky to be able to have that opportunity, and instead of pissing and moaning about being unemployed, I was going to rejoice in my good fortune. And by fortune, I do not mean riches. I mean how lucky I am to be able to work from home.

Thanks to all of you for reading and listening and offering your support. You can reach me at home. I'll be busy working!