I haven’t been talking much about my current employment here because, well, it’s been rather depressing. I was very grateful to get the job when I did, but a lot of the perks that existed when I started had withered away (bagels, cream cheese, lunch once a week, peanut butter M&M’s, sodas all no longer exist). A big office with a window doesn’t seem so great when your boss rushes into it to yell at you for something you didn’t even do wrong. And it was nice not to have to dress professionally, but not so much fun when your boss also acts unprofessionally.
I was very glad when the boss decided to hire another person for the non-judicial foreclosure department (which consisted of me), first because I had more work than I could do by myself, and second because I was hoping to make a break for it and didn’t want to leave the office in the situation in which I’d found it, with no one there who knew what I was supposed to be doing. But business had not been good. As Berck kept saying, if you can’t make money doing foreclosures in this economy, when can you? The boss had put us all on four days a week instead of five. With an unemployed husband, trying to support the both of us working part time was tough.
The boss had back surgery last summer, and is schedule for another fixer surgery at the end of the month. She’s been in pain the entire year, and it shows in her temperament. She called me and the lady who works mostly as my assistant into her office one day and yelled at us because I had mixed up which papers went in which file, and my assistant had remailed something that had come back returned because it had had an error in the address–she didn’t know that the timeline of the foreclosure rested on the exact date an item had been mailed. The boss said that if this sort of thing happened again, someone would get fired. My assistant told me later that never in her 59 years had she ever been talked to like that and that she was looking for something else. I told her I didn’t blame her.
At Christmas, the staff got together and bought a nice big gift certificate to P.F. Chang’s for the bosses. We all gathered together to give it to them, so the attorney took the opportunity since we were all together to tell us about things we were doing wrong. Then the wife told us that she had hoped to be giving us all Christmas bonuses, but that because of a recent screw-up by one of the employees that had cost thousands of dollars, we wouldn’t be getting anything. (We each did get a ham for Thanksgiving, though.)
A couple of months ago, the boss told me that there just wasn’t enough work to make payroll, and she thought she’d have to lay off the girl we’d hired to be the other half of the non-judicial department. I told her that if Berck had to move to find a job, I didn’t want to have to leave her without anyone who knew how to perform all the non-judicial foreclosures. About a month later, the boss called me while I was at work (she’s been missing a lot of work, to the relief of all of us) and said she just didn’t think she could keep both me and the other girl. She said that she had to choose between us and that she would choose me if I could commit to giving her week’s notice if I were the only one left. What could I say? I answered yes. Finally, at the end May, she called me in her office and said she was laying off the other girl and my assistant. I was to remind the attorney on the Thursday before the Memorial Day weekend to hand them their last checks and give them the bad news. But the very next day, one of our biggest clients said they might be sending us 30 new referrals, she decided to wait until the following Tuesday. Tuesday, she wasn’t in the office, and hadn’t decided yet one way or the other.
In the meantime, I had had two interviews with a workers comp law firm downtown (having a free day a week helped). They eventually decided to hire someone with direct experience. But I got an e-mail from them on Thursday saying they had just started a class-action suit against Wal-Mart in Colorado and suddenly needed more help. I put on my nice dress and went down there again on Friday, and we hammered out my pay and benefits (full medical insurance for me after 90 days) and starting in two weeks with the last week of October off. When I got home, I called the office and talked to one of the girls who had been there the longest, asking how I should tell the boss, who wasn’t there. I ended up calling her voicemail through Slydial, and telling her I’d solved her over-staffing problem.
She called me back and we talked. She told me that she really, really didn’t want to lose me, that she’d top the other firm’s pay, fire the other girl and put me back to working full time, and give me full medical benefits if only I’d stay. She asked if there was any other reason I didn’t want to stay. I didn’t want to tell her it was because she was crazy, so I told that, as she had mentioned before, morale was really low around the office because business had been bad, and that while everyone I’d talked to liked having an extra day off, they all really needed the money of working full time. She seemed flabbergasted by that, but told me to think about it over the weekend.
I wrote an e-mail to the new firm asking if they could offer me any more, since my current boss was offering so much.
A little while later I got a voicemail from my boss saying she had changed her mind, didn’t want this happening again in six months, thanked me for the two weeks, and wished me well at my new job.
The new firm wrote me back and said that the wages they’d offered me were as much as they could afford at the moment and were sorry it didn’t work out. Now I had no jobs! I wrote back explaining what had happened and said I would happily work for whatever they’d pay me.
It was a pretty sucky weekend.
Fortunately, first thing Monday morning the new firm wrote me back saying, “This is good news!” and telling me they’d see me on the 21st. What a relief.
As soon as I got that e-mail, I told my assistant. She came in and gave me a big hug and said, “I am SO happy for you! Now I can tell you what happened Friday.” Apparently, the boss had come to the office after talking to me and called a meeting with everyone there. She told them that I’d decided to leave after talking to everyone there and deciding they were all unhappy working only four days a week. She also said, “Joanna is extremely religious and very involved in her church, and all of the cursing around here may have led to her leaving.” I just about fell out of my chair laughing when I heard that.
I also talked to the assistant of the judicial department, who said that she knew that everything that was said at that meeting was a lie.
In a way, I’m very grateful that the boss made the decision for me. You never know if you’re going to be like the egg in the monastery, out of the frying pan and into the friar. I have no idea if the new place will be worse than where I work now (I like all the people I work with just fine…it’s just the boss that keeps us all on edge). But it’s hard to believe that anywhere else would be run less professionally.
So I am excited, relieved, and feel impossibly light. I can’t remember when I’ve felt so light.