Friday, July 3, 2015

Is it me, or do all jobs suck these days?

Recap: After the temp-to-perm job didn't work out because the woman (not) running the company was bipolar and it was taking all I had to keep my tone civil; I had a three-month maternity-leave cover job was fine, if airless and depressing; the echoing silence from the job market was getting frightening, and then I got an intro from my neighbor to a job at the major Boston hospital where he worked. It was as the Executive Assistant to a Senior VP; her assistant was taking a job closer to home.

I loved the folks at my interview, the departing assistant told me it was a "really great job," and they offered me $5K over my top asking price.

I shared a small reception area with two other, younger admins, and the Boss Lady and her Chief of Staff sat in offices facing us. The CoS used to be the Boss Lady's assistant back in the day.

I started, I loved it, I was thrilled. Sure, the commute was a 1:45 each way, but hey! I had a real job!

It was great -- busy but great. The calendar-control alone was a full-time job, but I seemed to be picking it up. I was pretty much left to my own devices aside from weekly meetings with the CoS.

At one meeting, I asked whether she had any feedback; anything I should work on.

"Nope; you're doing a great job."

And then.

Sigh. I'll spare you most of the boring details. CoS comes back from vacation, and things are off. I notice that people aren't talking to me or making eye contact.

CoS and I have our meeting.

"So tell me what happened with this meeting you were supposed to schedule."

"Um, I asked her to look at her calendar with me because I was having a hard time finding a time that worked for everyone. She pointed to a couple of days and said that if the visiting person couldn't make it on these days, to schedule for another time he was in town. She said, 'he's not that important to me.' So when I couldn't schedule a time, I sent a message to all the parties suggesting we schedule for another time when he's in town."

"Why didn't you email me?"

"Because there wasn't a problem. I did as she said."

"Yes, but you don't know that between the time she spoke to you and the time you sent the message, there were other conversations."

"How would I have known that?"

"As I said, you should have contacted me."

"Why would I have ever thought to contact you since there was no apparent problem?"

By now I was more than perturbed, because I sensed An Agenda, and I sensed that I could not win for losing.

"OK, if you are telling me that if, regardless of the circumstances, I cannot get a meeting on her calendar, I should come to you, I can understand that and follow that. But that hadn't been made clear, and I did exactly what she asked."

Didn't matter. She already had the FORM FROM HR where I'd been written up. For doing what I'd been asked. Also tacked onto this was a laundry list of petty crimes that included singing (to the music blaring from Boss Lady's office), talking, and wiping off my desk when an executive was in the Big Boss's office. ("It looks like you have no work to do.")  Also My Tone (she overheard me talking to someone and saying "Yep Yep Yep," When I explained that it was with another admin and we were having a jokey conversation because we got on really well: "You haven't been here long enough to presume that kind of relationship." So how long do I need to be here, exactly, until people are allowed to like me?)

The best part was that the form began with, "We are very concerned that we are having so many problems with you so soon after your hire."

So many problems. Good Lord, Jenkins, she sang along to "Do You Know The Way To San Jose?"! She established rapport with other admins, and she organized her desk after working on a 100-person event so that she could think straight! And she did it while an executive was visiting her boss and totally not giving her a second glance!

Oh the humanity!!!!

I knew what was going on. Boss Lady, who I'd now realized was irrational, was pissed over the meeting (having completely forgotten her directive to me), and so CoS, whose job is to toe the party line, was building a case for my dismissal. The irony was that I wanted them to fire me at that point, because the dislike was now palpable. (Nothing like a tiny office and having people carry on conversations all around you while studiously not making eye contact with you.) When I spoke to admins I'd grown to know in other departments about my situation, they were aghast (my being written up for singing has become legend), and volunteered that there was no way they could work in my department. I'd also learned that nobody in the hospital wanted to work there; the reputation was well known. Go me.

So for two months I sucked it up, responded with "Thank you; I appreciate your guidance" to every snarky CoS email, bit my tongue while CoS held extraordinarily  loud, rowdy conversations about vacations ("BEST. CALAMARI. IN. MY. LIFE."), and basically stopped giving a shit. I was polite, I was responsive, but it was clear that I was phoning it in. I'd been invested, and been stabbed in the back, so now they got the very polite, flat affect that is my version of Fuck You. And they knew that's what they were getting, but I was polite. And I wasn't singing.

And I frantically called recruiters. I was to the point where I was applying to dog-walking companies and housecleaning organizations.

So I got a job as office manager with a startup. Less pay, crappier benefits, but hopefully less hassle. I've been there for two days, and it's OK. All guys, all much younger. Early days. They gave me access to the HR files but neglected to remove the notes about hiring for my position. (Basically, I was not their first choice, but the other person wanted more and had other offers. Great.)

What I like -- and as a feminist I hate to admit it -- is that coming from a mostly-women environment, I don't anticipate dealing with the emotional take-everything-personally BS I had to put up with from women who ran crying if they didn't feel validated enough by me in a phone call, and I will not miss the godawful cliquishness. Or the lack of a sense of humor (when I pointed out that it was amusing that OB/GYN had put in for money to change their carpets, I got blank stares).

I'm not at all excited about my new job. My only hope is that I don't get pains in my stomach as I travel to it each day. The bar is now that low.

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