Saturday, October 31, 2009

"But wait! There's more!"

Tuesday, 32 hours to go

So here's the deal; there was a program put in place just a few days ago that is supposed to stop new jobs from being posted if there are qualified people on the preferential rehire list. While this might sound redundant, it's pretty obvious from my previous posts that the "pref rehire" program is a dismal failure because of all the manipulation within departments. Now if a job becomes available, HR is supposed to intervene. You'll forgive if I don't do cartwheels down the hallways with enthusiasm. This is like having the Easter Bunny guard the shark tank at Sea World.

Apparently, we now have a fire sale on employees. When this particular department went to post their part time opening, HR sent over my resume for review. Please understand that this has nothing to do with my ego, but they took one look at my experience and said, "I'll take her!" This reminds me of the time I saw a designer suit, in my size for 80% off. Grab it, buy it, take it home, just don't ask questions. I have been reduced to a sale item, no pun intended. I, however, prefer to think of myself as a fabulous pair of Jimmy Choo's at half off, not a 3-pack of Jockey underwear at Kohl's. But I digress...

We strike a deal as I sit along the side of the road, although I have no idea how I am going to survive on half a paycheck. It is actually going to be more like 40% because it's half of a lower salary. I really don't like being rushed into making a decision like this. All I know is one of life's little ironies is that it's easier to find a job when you've got a job.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Reversal of Fortune

Monday, 40 hours left

At the end of Friday's interview I am told that a decison will be made by Tuesday (tomorrow) and they ask hypothetically when could I start. I have no illusion that I'm even in the running. This is also not the ideal job as I trust the she-devil even less than my former supervisor, but desperation makes us do funny things. But that's a whole other blog....

I am working in a sort of fog these days, but a strange calm has come over me. I just can't expend the emotional energy on this anymore and must resign myself to the fact that I will need to job seach from home, on my couch, in my now famous bunny slippers. I make all the preparations for my final check, and since my email will stop the second I walk out the door, I create a new one on yahoo. I begin to think maybe I will leave earlier than planned, but now there are all these good-bye events planned. Ugh, heavy sigh.
As I get in my car to leave at 5:00 and pull out of the parking lot, my cell phone rings. It's a co-worker. "You have to call this number! There's a part time job in another department and they're willing to give it to you sight unseen!" Since this co-worker knows this department I take her at her word. "You've got to call the hiring manager TONIGHT on her cell phone!" I'm taken aback at the urgency. After all, I have been sitting around for 3 weeks on "death row." 

I pull over on the freeway, not wanting to get a ticket (Governor Arnie, if your reading this, you've got nothin' on me) and make the call.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dirty Little Tricks

Friday, 5 days left

We are finally on for 3PM for the interview.  The time and day changed four times, and location twice. In a classic territorial move, the final location happens to be in my building.  This means I have to do the corporate version of the walk of shame; walking through your building dressed better than you normally would for your real job.  I get to the door of the conference room 10 minutes early and nobody is there yet.  I have a key but since we're playing old school rules, I decide to let her win her little turf war.  She rounds the corner and she is wearing jeans, telegraphing her casual attitude.  She unlocks the door, and I am instantly hit with a blast of hot air.  It is literally 85 degrees in the room.  I look at her with a knowing, but not sarcastic glance as she lets me in. "Whoo it's hot in here!" she says as she brushes past me.  She forgets that I see the facilities calendar and I know she was just in this room with another interview just two hours before. Only she would have turned the thermostat up.

For the uninitiated, this is one of the oldest tricks in the book.  Unfortunately, it's a very old and outdated book.  Someone back in the 80's decided that you could/should judge people by the most inane criteria and then predict their success in your company.  A classic used to be to take a prospective employee out to dinner and watch if they salted their food before ever taking a bite.  This was supposed to signal that they were set in their ways, and not open to new experiences.  To paraphrase Freud, sometimes salt is just salt.  The thermostat trick is supposed to make the interviewee sweat so they will remove their suit jacket (and reveal their sweat stains), or remain uncomfortable (yet suffer professionally).  I know this is her goal as she sets out bottles of water for the other committee members.  However, I'm cool as a cucumber.

The interview goes well.  Nay, it goes really well.  The other members seem impressed even though she doesn't.  After the obligatory 30 question round robin, they ask the one question I've been waiting for and the only answer I have rehearsed.  "Why should we hire you?"

I close my portfolio, fold my hands on top of it and smile.  "I would be willing to bet that everyone else that prepared for this interview spent hours, if not days doing your assignment. You don't always get that kind of prep time on the job.  I spent about 20 minutes.  I know what I'm doing and I'm good at it.  That's why you should hire me."

The other two members looked up from their scripts.  One smiled and made some notes.  The other looked a little dumbfounded, although that may have been the dehydration setting in.  He was drenched in flop sweat.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bruce Lee Would be Proud

Thursday,  6 days left

I spend the day dutifully preparing my "portfolio" and researching the items I was given for the impromptu/prepared talk. I felt like I was back in grade school participating in a scavenger hunt. "Excuse me, do you happen to have a paper clip, one blue sock, and a pickle?" But, as I am gathering this mindless drivel I take look at the items I have put in my portfolio pocket. I, in fact, had a hard time choosing only two samples of original printed materials and the two I chose were damn good. I no longer had access to some of my written correspondence so I faked two, which took me all of five minutes. My resume, which has finally reached two pages out of necessity (this happens when you've worked in one industry for 20 cough, cough years) is pretty impressive. Unlike the first interview ("Interview with the Devil," 10/2), I am not only prepared for this, I'm loaded for bear.

She calls a third time to say that she has to move the interview again because she has to respect the schedules of all the committee members. In other words, they don't respect mine. "Not a problem." I say, my steely gaze wasted over the phone. Bring it.

That evening at 8PM, despite the fact that she has previously always called me on the phone, she emails and changes it again. Ooooh, will I see it? Or will I miss it and be an hour late? I serpentine around my PC in my home office. Not on my watch, Missy! I wait until close to midnight to reply back to the email. "Great! I'll see you then!" I swear to God, if I had a black ninja suit I would have had it on when I hit the send button.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Chess Game

Wednesday, 23 down 7 to go

I have my now daily training session with my replacement, which is stick-a-fork-in-my-eye irritating, and I receive an email from the hiring manager for the open job. I know this woman as we have gone to two conferences together and I've even had dinner with her office group. She would like to set up the interview for the next morning at 9:30.

I call HR (don't get me started) and double check that my resume and application are over in the hiring department. I tell her I hope that this is a real - and not a "mercy" - interview. She says (and I quote verbatim), "Oh, no..I have no indication that it isn't absolutely a purposeful interview." I ponder the amount of negatives in that statement as it occurs to me that it sounds rehearsed. Now, I must tell you that I am completely addicted to that new show "Lie to Me" with Tim Roth. He always notices things like that. Things like nodding your head in agreement while you're saying, "No! I had nothing to do with her murder!" However, she assures me that everything is on the up and up. Whatever.

When I get home, I get another call from the manager that there's an assignment due (no, I'm not kidding) for the interview and since it's already after 6PM she's guessing I want to move interview to the next day (Friday). This is a test. I will seem over confident and rash if I don't take the extra time. Fine, I'll take your extra time. We set the interview for 9:30 Friday morning.

I may be an old dog, but these are very old tricks. Your move.

A Day Late and a Multiple Dollars Short

Tuesday, 8 days to Go

Phone calls are a swirlin' today!  One of the jobs above me appears to be open again (I have given up trying to keep track of this).  My manager finally decides to get involved and calls the hiring department and asks why I haven't be interviewed.  I hear her say down the hall, "she's not only qualified, she'd be really good!  You need to interview her!"   She comes in to tell me this and the fact that she's complained to all higher ups that I should be considered for all open jobs, blah, blah, blah.  Oh Great.  So now, I am the wallflower at the dance.  "She's got a great personality!"  Seriously, I don't need a pity interview.

Multiple calls ensue, confirming the obvious:

"Well, she HAS to apply."
"Oh, she did apply?"
"Well, it's NOT preferential re-hire, you know.  We don't HAVE to interview her."
"Oh, she's really qualified?"
"I can't find her application.  Where's her resume?"
"Hmm, they've been here for 2 weeks?"
"When's her last day, we're really in a hurry here."
"She can start tomorrow?  Wow..."
"OK, I'll call her and set up an interview."


More crickets.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

HR Stands for.....

Monday, 9 days to Go

A strange calm has fallen over my office. No one comes to see me, the phone doesn't ring - even my emails have slowed down. They hold staff meetings right outside my office that I don't have to attend. It's like I'm not even there. I get a call from Human Resources - now there's a contradiction in terms. Clearly, the humans at my company are not resources, but liabilites to be cut. Ever see "Who Killed The Electric Car?" They're taking us out in the middle if the night, carting us off and crushing us. Wow, I really need to switch to decaf.

Anyway, they ask for my timesheet so they can cut my final check.  There is some discussion about vacation and sick leave balances and some overtime.  I will get paid for all my vacation (hence why I come in a demean myself everyday) but not for sick leave, and they will pay me for the overtime, where they would have previously made me take "comp" time.  Like Oliver in the orphanage (in, well... Oliver) I ask, "what if I get my check, and then get a job here the next week.  Can I just hand back the money and keep my vacation hours?"  I can't imagine starting a new job with no vacation again.  "No." she snaps.  "Once you get paid for your vacation time you can't buy it back."  Who makes these rules?  Who is this evil despot, this tyranical dictator, this oppressor of people's vacations?  Well, she's about 40 and wears sweater sets up on the second floor in HR.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

One of Life's Little Mysteries Solved


If you noticed, I was finally able to fix the charts in my post below ("I Guess I'm Just Stupid" 10/6) to look the way I wanted them to. I'll admit I am new to the blogosphere, but I am still surprised when things that should be easy, just aren't. Alas, this is my problem with life. My fellow bloggers gave me lots of suggestions, but I am no HTML wiz kid. Much like cars, IRS regulations and my Verizon FIOS package, I know just enough to get me into trouble.

I tried everything but got so lost in the HTML editor I should have left bread crumbs to find my way back. Today I tried SnapIt and had an "Aha!" moment. It's been a long time since I tried anything that makes something so difficult so easy. It basically saves a "print screen" in any format. Simple, yet mysterious. Also a lot like life. And Jello.

Here is the info on SnapIt:

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Party's Over

Friday, 1o days left

Now that I'm down to two weeks left, people are getting used to the idea of me leaving. I can't say as I feel the same way. I have been asked where I want to go for my goodbye lunch. This is the final nail in the coffin. The corporate version of the last meal. I'm also asked who I would like to have attend. Hmmm, I dunno. Andre Eithier? Sean Connery? Jason Statham? Oh, they probably mean people there. My mind wanders a lot lately.

Ever the team player, I tell them anyone who wants to come should be invited. A suggestion is made by my closer co-workers that we should go out the night before for happy hour. Never one to say no to a free margarita and little teeny tacos, I say yes. I know that the purpose of this event is to trash those that need to be trashed, and I'm in dire need of that. My last day, and meal, will need to be sappy and sad, and I'm already dreading it. DWW.....

I just want to slink away into the night without any more histrionics. I'm emotionally bankrupt -which I find oddly appropriate.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

When it Rains it Pours

Thursday, 11 days left

Talk about kicking a girl when she’s down! Not that it would ever be a good time for things to break, but now is particularly bad. The lamp on our big screen TV went out in the middle of football last night. Look, there are many things I can live without for short periods of time. Then there are the things that I’ll work a freeway off ramp to get the money to fix or replace. Among these things is my big screen TV. The others would be the dishwasher and coffeemaker, and don’t even try to make me cope without a hairdryer. I remember my parents telling me about a neighbor when I was about five years old that just lost it one night. He was up on his roof, cursing to the heavens amidst a raging rainstorm. I always thought that was the very definition of insanity. But now, I totally get it! He was probably hoping that his leaky roof would make it just one more paycheck before he would have to get it fixed. That week, his car probably broke down, he found out that his kid needed braces and he got an IRS audit notice. The roof was just the last straw. I get it all too well. So I order the part, after borrowing the money from my son (horrors!) because I’m not sure I can deal with no TV. Or movies. Or Dodgers. I really need that part!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mental Flab

Wednesday, 12 days left

We're out of milk and need to go to the store and we all know how that's going to turn out. I've realized that my stream-of-consciousness-inner-voice is my new best friend at the supermarket. At least until the men in the white coats show up. I go down the frozen aisle and look at the frozen pizza. I could deliver pizza. Can they fit my BMW with one of those lighted signs? That's some classy pizza. Yep, I'm going to be the classiest unemployed person in town. At least I won't be stressed out as much anymore. I need to keep my edge though, everyone is stressed out. Can't get all relaxed and mentally flabby. I could dress up in my suit and take my briefcase in to Starbucks (until my gift card runs out) and then go home and drink it. I need to have that frazzled look around 4PM. Hmmm, I could go to the post office and stand in line just to buy one stamp. No, wait.. The DMV! That would do it. That will fry your brain any time. Then, when I'm in the check out line and the clerk says, "I am SOOOO glad it's Friday, how about you?" I can say with conviction, "Whoo yeah, you know it!" It's like one of those science fiction movies where they check the lines on your palms to make sure you're really human. Must fit in....

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's my Party and I Can Cry if I Want to

Tuesday, 13 days left

I finally have to send out an announcement to my clients that I will be leaving. Predictably, this doesn't go over well. I purposefully waited to do this because I thought I would be able to say, "I'm leaving but I'll be right over here in this other department." Don't get me wrong, I appreciate everyone's sympathy, but it has become incredibly draining. I find myself avoiding people and the usual gathering places because I can't stand the little pouty faces they make when they stamp their feet and say, "I'm sooo sad!" They've worn me down, and I'm not cheerleader I once was.

Here are my current responses to their inane attempts to commiserate, and yes, sometimes I even say them out loud:

I'm so sad! - Not as sad as I am.

What a stupid decision! - I couldn't agree with you more.

I'm really upset about this! (this one is usually accompanied by a 45 degree head tilt, furrowed brow and hands on hips ) You want to see upset?

What are you going to do? Gee, I hadn't thought about that.

I know, I know, "bitter, table for one!" but I ask you, if there was ever a time you should be able to be bitter, I think this is it. You'll just have to indulge me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Guess I'm Just Stupid

Monday 2 weeks left

I didn't get the job I interviewed for, and that's OK because another "preferential re-hire" person got it. I say to myself, "self; that's the way it should be. That's how it's supposed to work - that job was at his level and he was moved across." Little did I know.

Chart 1

In reality, I find out that the person who got the job I interviewed for wasn't even laid off yet. He was verbally told he would be laid off and they give him one of the jobs now open in their office. So he types up his own paperwork in order to get a job under the preferential re-hire program. In fact, he wasn't actually laid off until he tells his boss what they can do with their internal "re-hire" assignment. They don't tell HR, so on the books he has two jobs! In the meantime, there are more layoffs coming so everyone is in a holding pattern while they manipulate the system. For those of you who are lost, here's what really happened:

I have spent my life playing by the rules and being a good worker bee. I don't have low friends in high places. Apparently, I don't have any friends anywhere - well, not with the kind of power I need.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Life Alterations

Saturday and Sunday

The roller coaster that is now my life is starting to take a toll on me. It's not that I'm not sleeping at all, but if I wake up in the middle of the night I'm up for good. At the risk of sounding like I have acquired OCD, I have taken to cleaning in the wee hours of the morning. You can now eat off the shelves in my refrigerator and I descaled my coffeemaker at 4:30 AM the other day. The strange thing is that I wake up fully alert, but around 2PM I hit the wall and my brain turns to mush. I realized this as I was trying to make a phone call on my calculator, and then on my way home attempted to buy gas with my Home Depot card and stood there cursing at the pump for 5 minutes.

This seems a particularly cruel turn of events. The weekends are supposed to filled with late mornings, second or third cups of coffee and staying dressed in your PJ's and bunny slippers as long as you want. Now I'm scared that this will become my unofficial uniform. I wonder if all the things I used to consider creature comforts become jaded.

Here's a few things I'm afraid will come to pass:

  • I will never again eat at a restaurant that doesn't start with "Der" or "Mc."
  • Starbucks will become a only a distant memory as I am forced to drink...gulp...Yuban?
  • The frozen meals I used to take for lunch will now become dinner for two.
  • This year when I buy Halloween candy it will become dessert for a month.
While we're on the subject of lifestyle changes, how about the things that I used to think were "quirky" but now might become my new life essential:
  • Breakfast for dinner. Cholesterol be damned!
  • The samples at Costco. Should I bulk up and train for this? Are there scuffles around the carnitas lady?
  • The free hotdogs and hamburgers at that big RV lot down the freeway. How will I feel when they ask me if I want the "usual?"

Friday, October 2, 2009

Interview with the Devil

Friday, 18 days to go

I finally got called for an interview! My normal M.O. here would be to research the position and the company, practice my patter and rehearse a few answers . I begin to realize this isn't going to be as easy as it looks. The truth is, I have never been out of work in my life. In fact, within my family I have quite the reputation for gaining employment. On my first summer vacation in college I moved to a resort town to work. Within a few days, I managed to lose the job that had gotten me there in the first place. I cried, walked down the street and was working that afternoon in a burger joint that paid more. I was a legend.

It occurs to me that for the first time in my life I am looking for work when (a) I didn't plan on doing it, nor was it my idea, (b) I don't really want to leave my job and (c) I'm actually desperate. This is not a good combination for job seekers. Not to mention, my self esteem has taken quite a beating in the last two weeks.

I stay home the day of the interview so I can prepare myself (I am afforded as much job hunt related flex-time as I need). However, I spectacularly under estimate how nervous I'm going to get. This becomes quite evident as I sit in the waiting room sweating beads. Let me be more's over 100 degrees outside so it's more like a flop-sweat, I'm wearing a suit and the previous, 20-something-male interview before me comes out looking fresh as a daisy.

I swallow hard as I realize I'm in real trouble here. As I drive home it hits me hard that I really am leaving.