Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Reflections on leaving

Just had my last day at work at the company I've been with for over ten years. Here are some thoughts.

There's always a small part of you when leaving something you loved that's still sort of glad to be done with certain things, of course. I had responsibilities and now I no longer have them, and my life is more of a clean slate than it was before. I'm in between jobs, so I don't have the duties of any career hanging over me (except for my writing stuff, of course--welp, I do need to get on that and send a manuscript I promised my agent, but I digress). That little bit is good.

Everything else is really sad and I miss it already.

I didn't "love" the work I did to the extent that I would have done it for free, but as far as jobs go, I think it's safe to say I loved my job.

The people I worked with were by and large incredible. I don't know if you can really understand where I'm coming from without some background, so here it is: I came into this job straight from six years in retail, where almost without exception I was disrespected by customers and management alike. Treated like my everyday goal was to slack off as much as possible even though I sometimes came in on my day off to make sure an inventory project was done or worked through my lunch hour. (Er, half hour.) Suspected of stealing from the company if we had a bad inventory and I'd been working there since the bad numbers started. Expected to prove I bought my coffee from the internal café by rubber banding it to the cup. Treated like I must be a liar if my metrics were high. Frequently gaslighted about my schedule (e.g., I'd write down my schedule, be off for two days, and get screamed at by someone who expected me to come in on a day I wasn't scheduled, refusing to acknowledge that someone must have changed the schedule after posting it even though doing so was against policy). I came from that to a job where I was treated fairly. I never stopped appreciating it.

My principal was patient and kind. He listened if I had a problem and provided resolutions above and beyond what I could have ever expected. My co-workers assigned my tasks without it ever feeling like being ordered around--almost as if my duties were favors I was doing for them instead of work I was paid for. I was appreciated and thanked. I was included in financial rewards like bonuses and invited to company gatherings. I was given very good benefits, including company stock. And I felt like my work was meaningful, because I was relied upon for many things the others didn't or couldn't do themselves. These were people I wanted to help, and it wasn't just because I was rewarded with very good pay. I received basic trust and respect. That goes so long for someone like me.

My co-workers even got me a pie when I got a book deal.

And today, on my last day, they also got me a pie.

My bye pie.

Jerry cutting the bye pie.
Brian and me trying to eat the pie with giant forks.

I have high hopes for the future for my next employment opportunities, but at this point it's so hard to imagine I'll ever work someplace better. I hope I get to see them again soon. (You know, when they can't figure out how to get a document to print, have trouble locating a file, or need a FedEx made out.)


I thought I'd share for posterity the thoughts I wrote down in a journal on the day I first interviewed for this job. Enjoy.

I think it went well! I was on time, and the first person I talked to was the principal, who was very friendly and talked a lot about the company to me. He told me all about it and about some of the company's strong points and all that. Then he made it more personal and told me about my role--I was interviewing for an administrative assistant position. Basically it turns out I take the clerical and organizational tasks off his hands as much as possible and do things like order supplies, manage filing, schedule stuff, you know. Also I have to try to edit, proofread, and otherwise spruce up their proposals so that the company gets granted work to do instead of the companies giving it to their competitors.

It's a small cozy office. Only about 8 to 10 people work there (depending on what you mean by "work there"), but only about 6 are on the premises at any one time, and they are very quiet. (Hey, they're transportation engineers, what do you expect?) After the women who are currently filling in for "my" position are finished showing me the ropes and training me, well . . . I'll be the only girl in the place.

Not surprising, actually.

The principal then introduced me to some co-workers and THEY all talked to me for a while. One of them was his partner for many years and he had a very disorganized office. Hehehe. And then he went and told me, like, the same things that the principal had told me. Next I got to meet another guy who's not really an engineer but he works as one. (That's what he said.) He used to be in government. He said that he hoped that such a silent workplace wouldn't make me want to shoot myself in the head. Hehehe.

I really hope I get the job because it seems like something I could do AND it pays well (AT LEAST five bucks more an hour than I made at BAM, and that was the low end!), and the people were so friendly. The previous administrative assistant was very organized and before she left she made a list of things her position is supposed to take care of, and that is awesome because that's exactly what I did when I left the kids' specialist position! They had a little kitcheny room with some sweets and real coffee in there. I worked at a bookstore with a café and we didn't get free coffee. Here they have a coffee machine. Ahhhhh. The only thing that sucked about that was someone walked by eating cinnamon buns and my face felt all scratchy. (If you didn't know, I'm allergic to cinnamon, or at least really intolerant.)

I guess they have a couple more people to interview and then I'll know by Friday. I'll update then for sure. :) I hope it's with good news. . . .

[Spoiler: It was good news. For over a decade.]


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