So the job offer from the place in the 'burbs came through, and I turned it down. I'd called the company and spoke with the lead admin to say that I had a 2-month temp gig I was interested in taking if they didn't want me, but I needed to know by that afternoon whether I was still in the running, because the other place needed someone in pronto.
Yes, yes, I was still definitely being considered, she said; could she call me back after speaking wiht some people? Sure.
Here's what I expected: "We'd like to offer you a job supporting the legal team, and since it's a somewhat paralegal position, we're going to pay you at the high end of the pay scale you'd given us during your first interview. Because we have no debt on our properties and give ten million dollars a year to charity, we also pay for 90% of health insurance. When can you start?"
Here's what I got: "We'd like to offer you a job but we don't know what it is yet, because we haven't decided where to put you. We're offering about $5K less than your minimum, and you'll have to pay $260 per month for the cheapest HMO plan."
I said I'd think about it. Hung up; thought about it. My gut was screaming, DO NOT TAKE THIS JOB. HAVE NO TRUCK WITH PEOPLE WHO FEEL THEY CAN MAKE UNILATERAL DECISIONS ABOUT YOUR WORK, READ YOUR EMAILS, AND WHO EXPECT YOU TO BE OK WITH THAT.
It reeked of paternalistic top-down, BS, and I agreed with my gut, so I sent an email saying thanks, but no thanks. They asked whether I was comfortable sharing why, and I said, very politely, that I can't commit to a job without knowing what it is or whom I'd be working with or for, and I found it surprising that company so profitable and otherwise charitable would not offer more competitive health benefits. I got no reply.
I took the temp gig, and it's fine. It's another big company with stupid systems, and after my second week there I still don't have print capabilities, and I don't feel like anyone is really in charge. The head of the team seems very capable but is also somewhat neurotic, gives me three conflicting answers to my questions, and basically makes me glad I don't deal with her much. The one guy with whom I share a small windowless office is a sweet guy, about 24. He strikes me as being good at his job, but also very inarticulate and vague when it comes to explaining things. I tell myself that I'm not there to learn a job or make positive change; I'm there to learn enough to help them for eight weeks.
The woman who went out on maternity leave was there for my first few days. I found out she used to work for the company that had made me the job offer. When I told her my experience, her smile kept getting wider. When I was done, she said, "All I will say is that I have an email and a voicemail on my phone from my labor attorney."
She didn't elaborate and I didn't ask for details, but I clearly made the right decision.