Monday, December 7, 2009

EDD Non-Cents

It turns out I am eligible for a partial EDD claim. I filed. I filled out multiple forms. My dear friends in HR completely botched their part and I had to start all over again. Lost a week of benefits. Then I get a letter saying I have a telephone interview. Isn't that sort of like getting a telegram* that you’re going to get a letter? They couldn't just ask me the questions on a form? They want to hear the inflection in my voice to see if I'm falsifying information? Are they that good? Then I remember they are just state employees, and I snap out of my paranoia.

The call is scheduled for 10AM and a very nice lady calls right on time. After exchanging pleasantries, we get down to the matter at hand. I will now translate the call:

EDD Lady: "On your last form you wrote you were available for work, but didn't look for work."
Translation: "You're an idiot, never check 'No' on any of our forms."

Me: "Well, in your handbook it says if I accept an appointment at my same employer I don't have to job search."
Translation: "I tried to follow your logic and failed, obviously."

EDD Lady: "No, you still have to look for work. You did right?"
Translation: "Throw me a bone here....just say 'yes.'"

Me: "Oh yes, I have my resume out everywhere. I misunderstood."
Translation: "Never check 'No,' never check 'No'..."

EDD Lady: "Oh, good. I thought that was what you meant. I'll reinstate your benefits."
Translation: "We're never going to do that again, are we?"

And all is well with the world once again.

*For you 20-somethings: a telegram was the precursor to email. It was as close to an IM as we could get. You'd go to a Western Union and tell the man...yes, Western Union didn't always JUST send money...oh forget it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

First Week On the New Job

I have completed my first week in the new department. It's a strange thing to be displaced without your consent. Everyone is very nice and welcoming in the new "country." If you read my September 20 post "Dead Woman Walking," then you know my company treats departments like separate countries. At least I am now working in something similar to Portugal. When people find out I'm in a different place, they ask questions. I don't know quite what to say. "Oh, you're there now? Do you like it better?" Or "Why did you leave?" I've decided honesty is the best policy. They need to know what might be coming.

Don't misunderstand me, I am in a much better situation than many, and I'll get over it, but it's still hard to wrap my head around how and why this all happened. Let's re-cap: two months ago I would have never guessed I'd be here, and by here I mean literally and philosophically. I've essentially been forcibly transferred, taken a pay cut, and am doing a job I don't have any passion for.


Still employed, good thing. Benefits, good thing. Time towards retirement, good thing. Less money, bad thing. Having to learn everything, bad thing. Being grateful all the time, tiresome. Sigh.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Party's Over

Last day, Zero Hour

It's finally come down to it, the last day in my office. I look everything over for the last time. Computer cleaned out? Check. Drawers empty? Check. List of important tasks for replacement? Check. A few people stop by to say good-bye and vow to visit me in my new department. "We'll have lunch!" they all exclaim. It's an excruciatingly long day and I decide to call it quits at 4PM. I load up the few things I still have to cart home in one of those reusable, 'green' shopping bags. I just can't bear any more boxes. I stand in the middle of the office and announce, "Well, I guess this is it. I 'm outta' here." Everyone empties out of their cubicles and alcoves and comes and hugs me.

And then the inevitable happens. I just lose it. I don't mean I start just crying, I'm talking about chest-heaving-can't-catch-your-breath-bawling like a lost 3 year old at Wal-Mart. It was exactly what I didn't want to do, and I did it big time. My only slight satisfaction is that public displays of emotion like that are usually contagious, sort of like yawning. As I turned and walked out the door there were six, full grown women standing in the lobby of the office, sobbing. I had reduced them to mere puddles of their former selves.

"My work here is done," I said to myself under my breath.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Holy Blogs, Batman! It's the Scholastic Scribbler!

I feel like a super hero! I won a Superior Scribbler award! Many, many thanks to Tony for his kind words of support. Please check out his blog: . Have you ever read a post that said exactly what you needed to hear exactly when you needed to hear it? His post "Objects in the rearview mirror are larger than they appear!" was that post for me.

Here are the rules:

My fellow Scribblers must post the award on their blogs along with the Scholastic Scribbler link (which explains this process better than I can).

Each blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, they'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives this prestigious honor.

Each Superior Scribbler must link back to the author and the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

In turn, each Superior Scribe must pass the award on to five equally deserving bloggers. This is waaaaaay harder than it seems people!

Here are my 5 picks (in no particular order):

If you want your brain eaten by really cool (translation: really hard) movie trivia: Seriously, your head will hurt so good.

Charlene at the Balance Beam, always good writing and a fellow SNL quoter:

For good job (and lack thereof) advice:  Power to the laid off people!

OK, painting isn't exactly scribbling, but it's darn close and this is a really nice artistic site. Beautiful, green (and I don't mean the color) paintings, and a good communicator!

This blog is especially appropriate for the upcoming Thanksgiving family gathering and because you know I love me some movie references, you've got to read "The Christmas Michael Bay Killed." Movies, racism...Hilarious!

I know that I am supposed to notify all winners of their award with comment on their blog. Be patient, this may take a day. Sometimes I get lost in the Blogosphere and need to follow bread crumbs to get back home.

Congrats all!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Eleventh Hour Reprieve....Literally

Thursday, 16 hours to go

I decide I'm not going to be in the office much today. I need to clear off my computer, you know, all those pesky vacation pictures, letters to creditors and blog docs. At some point I have to meet with my new boss. Since we haven't even been introduced, this makes me a little apprehensive as I wonder, can she still change her mind? As usual, my mind begins to wander and it occurs to me that my new manager is choosing employees not unlike a fantasy football team. After all, she picked me by perusing only the stats on my resume. Will she want to trade me? There's a lot of laid off QB's out there. Then I was reminded of that play Steambath, where people just start start coming out of the steam, uninvited and they're really dead. What if her office is like that? I'm probably over thinking it...

I drive over to my new office and meet with my new manager. - Ooh! In addition to having access to the best parking lot on the planet, I also have a remote that opens the security gate arm. Sweet! - We meet, we greet and she says, "Tell me what your passion is. I mean, if you hadn't been laid off, would you have stayed in that office and retired there?" I'm taken aback. Is she asking me this because it was a bad office (which it was), or is she trying to see if I have higher aspirations (which I don't). Everything these days seems like a trick to me. Then I had an epiphany.

Maybe, this really is a good thing. A really good thing. I wouldn't allow myself to think that anything good could come of this whole situation because my ego and self esteem were so bruised. This woman only knew that she just got the deal of the century on a good, low miles used employee. An employee who was angry enough to want something better. Not just a passive job change, this. I told her that the reason I want to stay at this level of my job is because I am very passionate about what I do and I'm good at it. This is why it hurt so much to be thrown away like so much trash. I'm beginning to see it was more like I was being recycled and the rest of my old office was put in the compactor.

She seems satisfied that I'm not going to run out the door anytime soon for the first higher paying job, and says that she can pay me full time for a while until she can figure out if she can change it permanently. The budget still sucks. I breathe a huge sigh of relief, as the enormous half paycheck burden is lifted.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Karmic Balance

Still Wednesday

Blissfully, the good-bye lunch was uneventful. Really uneventful. Nice food, very sweet presents and heartfelt cards, but nothing from my director. "Guilt! Table for one!" Was it really that awkward? She stood at the back door while people left like David Spade as that airline steward on Saturday Night Live, "buh, bye...uh, buh, bye" They really should train people for these situations. I guess it's too much to ask to have some people act like regular humans when they need to.

On my way back to the office, I had to pick up a new parking permit as my new assignment is clear across the complex. And as it is in the universe, sometimes you just score. I was telling the clerk my sad story - the abbreviated version, of course - and she gave me the rarest parking permit there is, the Willy Wonka golden ticket of parking permits, the coveted 19 Red. Did you hear that? Every time I say it I hear angels singing. I thanked her, took the permit and skipped back to my car.

Even though it was a small victory, it was the first in the past few, dark weeks. I decided not to tempt the fates. I had just witnessed balance in the universe, no matter how lopsided.  I decided to celebrate my triumph and thank the gods by driving through Starbucks on the way back. I ordered the frothiest, sweetest, mocha, full caf, extra cream, venti calorie drink I could. I took my time getting back to the office. It was liberating! I know I'm a little slow on the uptake, but what are they going to do? FIRE ME?

OK, next time....decaf.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Down to the Wire

Wednesday, 24 hours left

Today I run around like a chicken with my head cut off. I have to cancel my final check being cut because I will now be continuing in another department. And guess what? Payroll is majorly annoyed! It's all I can do not scream "get over it!" into the phone. I learned long ago, the two groups of people you never want to irritate at any job are the payroll clerks and the maintenance crew. Unless you like working with a lot of duct tape around your office.

On top of everything else, I have to go to HR (hellish and rude?) and sign papers and then it's off to the most dreaded thing of all, the good-bye lunch. I managed to have it moved to a much more casual place, instead of the large restaurant originally planned. I wanted lots of activity and noise, to disguise the inevitable awkward silences. We had all been to one of these for a co-worker just a month earlier and I our supervisor said nothing. I don't mean, she was quiet, I mean she actually never mentioned her leaving. No "thanks, we'll miss you!" or "Sorry you have to go.." Nada, zip, crickets. It was as if we all mysteriously went to lunch on the same day at the same place by some freakish coincidence.

HR (hilarious ridiculousness?) tries to help me figure out my retirement contributions, and she says, “Do you want me to give you an estimate of your benefits?” "Sure!" I say, as she moves her phone from her side of the desk to mine and dials a number. On the speaker I hear the automated system I always use. Is she kidding? I tell her I can do that at home not to worry. Later we are talking about what I'll need to do if I end up leaving in December because I can't afford to work part time for very long. Ever the helpful one, she offers, "Would you like me to give you an idea of what your paycheck will be?" I eye her suspiciously, "sure..." and she proceeds to her computer, pulls the same payroll screen I can access, and then turns to me and says, "OK, now go ahead and log-in ."

And I'm the one that got laid off.