Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why I left my previous job

I'm very happy about the new job but I will not be talking about it. Let me talk instead about my previous job. Every six months I had to sit through what must be the equivalent of the farmer rounding up all animals and telling them that the farm was running out of resources and could not sustain so many animals. Particularly chickens. Did we really need five of them? If you were a chicken, you would feel singled out and very uncomfortable. I know, because I was one of those chickens.

But the first to go were not us chickens. It was the poor part-timers who helped the chickens and some of the other animals. These were "assistants" that were earning little above minimum wage and doing the dirty work nobody wanted. My own assistant's hours were reduced from 15 to 5 hours per week. She quit and got a job as a waitress. I scurried around until I found someone else to work those five hours per week, but it was not enough. Luckily, I had volunteers. The economy was in recession and people were sending their resumes to any email address they could find on the internet. I could not hire anyone, but managed to convince two of these desperate people to try out their luck as volunteers so as not to have a gap on their resume. One of my volunteers was a woman with a master's degree and the type of experience that would have made her overqualified for my own job, and yet I made her do all the boring, time consuming and repetitive tasks. I felt very guilty about it.

Then came the budget cuts: We did not have enough money for supplies but we had to keep things going. As an analogy, imagine that you need cheeseburgers and you always get them from McDonalds, but now you have to fire up the grill and cook them yourself. It really was not cost effective, considering the time I was wasting. I was quickly running behind my schedule and I started leaving important stuff on the back burner and concentrating only on the urgent things.

Finally, rumors started circulating that the chicken with less seniority was going to be fired.  I'm not saying any other chickens deserved to be fired instead of her, but I am sure that when a farmer decides to cull his flock he does not simply get rid of the last chicken he bought. He probably considers other factors such as the productivity of each chicken. In any case, the union fought back, because they did not want to lose one single vote. The chicken was not fired but, wisely, she started sending out her resume to every corner on this planet. Two months later she got a good job offer and left.

I was happy for her, but obviously nobody was hired to replace her and that left us, the other four chickens, severely understaffed an overworked. And that's when the union negotiated the furloughs: we were to work only 35 hours per week. Believe me, I did not mind the pay cut, it's just that it was impossible to keep up with all that work with only 40 hours per week. How were we supposed to keep things running working only 35 hours?

Sometime while all this was happening I did two IUIs with clomid. That I was able to squeeze that into my crazy schedule was a miracle in itself, but the real miracle was that I actually got pregnant. I was ecstatic, but obviously under too  much stress. And I was puking all over the place. I was not eating well because I was too tired to cook when I got home. I had been very good about bringing my own lunch to work but not anymore. Just when I needed homemade nutritious meals I was buying junk food in the cafeteria. And then I would throw it all up and convince myself that it was for the best.

I should have quit. But I thought that, since we were going to have a baby, we were going to need the money more than ever, and I reasoned that I would not be able to find another job that was so secure. If the union had proved one thing it was that nobody could fire us, no matter what.

Then came the miscarriage. It did not happen all of a sudden, I had some close calls that kept me from work while pending tasks piled up to the ceiling, until finally I lost the baby. Nobody sent me a card. All I got were desperate phone calls from the lonely part-time assistant who was put in charge during my absence and could not juggle the mess I had been in. I kept sending emails with updates on my health and letters from my doctor but barely got any replies. My supervisor did send an email wishing me a quick recovery, but Human Resources never emailed or called, not even to explain that I had run out of sick leave and my paycheck was being butchered. This caused many misunderstandings and bad blood later on. After a month of bedrest, one of my colleagues called to see how I was doing. Three days later I received a get-well card that she must have convinced everyone else to sign.

I was still feeling like shit when my doctor said I could go back to work. I could now walk with the help of a cane but I couldn't stand for more than a couple of minutes. I could have convinced my doctor to write another letter putting off my return to work, or asking that I return part-time until fully recovered. Instead, I finally came to my senses and decided that having a job you could have forever was not necessarily a good thing. It had been all right in the beginning, but now it was a miserable mess and I wanted out. So I quit.

Boy, was that liberating. Now we only had one income, but who cared? It was enough for the two of us, now that no baby was coming, and I was already on my husband's insurance. My former insurance was still good for two months, which ended up being convenient, given that during those two months I kept bleeding non-stop. I had been severely anemic upon arrival to the ER, was given blood transfusions, but I still was not fully recovered even after all that time. I had to have a bunch of tests and scans and bloodwork done. It was scary for a while, when nobody knew what was going on. But finally I had surgery, the problem was fixed and six days later I stopped bleeding. And I did not have to pay a single cent, given that I had primary and secondary insurance. See, that left me with enough money in the flex plan to buy those sunglasses later on.

It's been almost seven months since that surgery and my health has been improving. Emotionally I am a wreck, hence the therapy and the antidepressants. But physically, I have no complaints. I felt good enough to try those clomid cycles (after stopping the antidepressants) but once more my ovaries betrayed me. Then came this job opportunity, which frankly was too good to pass. And so here I am, enjoying the present and trying not to think too much about the future. As for the past, its pointless to dwell too much on it, though writing this very long post was a positive exercise. It made me appreciate the new job even more.

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