Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why I Left

So, about two months ago I left my job as a proofreader at local publishing company. My departure surprised my boss/friend, in such a way that I wonder if – Facebook birthday invitation aside – she really is my friend anymore. I thought I’d write a little bit about why I left, because, well, I don’t care if anyone who reads this dies of boredom.

There were a few factors that influenced my decision to return to my previous job at the government. Firstly, the economy. The publishing company I was at had already gone through one round of lay-offs, and a second round was imminent. Now, I like my security. The reason I left the gov’t in the first place was because I was only employed in a wage position, and not a permanent one. When I started at JWP and became privy to the whole merger/layoff business, I was like, um, huh? But that was months before anything really came down, so whatever. I figured I’d just wait and see what happened. So, when things got really serious, and actual layoffs started happening, I kinda panicked. And then, when the second round was hinted at, I panicked even more. And, just as I was reaching the apex of my panic, my old boss called and asked me if I wanted to come back. To the government. Safe. Secure. Though my boss, my boss’s boss, and my boss’s boss’s boss all assured me that my job was completely safe, I knew that someone in my department was going to have to go, and it wouldn’t have felt right if someone that I worked alongside, who had been there two, three times as long as I had, was laid off in my place. Call me strange, but my years in retail have ingrained the whole ‘longevity’ idea in my head… you know, first in, last out?

Secondly, anyone who knows me relatively well knows that I am very close to my Auntie Carol and Uncle Bob. They have done so much for me throughout the years that even if I spent the rest of my life kissing their feet I couldn’t fully pay them back. My Auntie Carol’s best friend holds a very prominent position with the Alberta Government and it was her who first got me my job there. Though, I like to think that while she got me the interview, I was the one who got myself the actual job, and kept it. You know, with my excellent work ethic and all. When I quit the gov’t to go to JWP, my Auntie was shocked, and was never happy that I made that decision, even though she appreciated why I did. So, during our weekly get-togethers, as news of the changes at JWP came out, my Auntie got more and more concerned. When I told her that my old boss had called me to ask me back, she was euphoric, and she really encouraged me to take the opportunity to return to the gov’t fold. Now, while this kind of pressure from a relative might not seem very healthy, or helpful, my Auntie Carol and Uncle Bob have filled a very important position in my life… they’re my surrogate parents. This might not be something that many people who read my blog can relate to, having fully functioning, relatively sane parents themselves, but my parents are, well, not exactly good representatives of their roles. I mean, my dad, when I was 16, moved to Lethbridge for work and then didn’t communicate with us for a good three months – we had no phone number or address for him, and he just didn’t call. Then, after my parents had been divorced for a few years, he remarried, and not only did he not invite my brother and I to the ceremony, he also didn’t tell us about the happy event until about a year after the fact. Also, my dad doesn’t know where I work, what I do, what’s important to me, and that for the first time in my life, I’m in love with someone who is in love with me. And my mother? Well, where do I begin? My mom had taught me how to mix her the perfect hi-ball before I was 12. She actually encouraged me to drop out of high school so that I would be able to work fulltime and help pay our rent. Over the last few years she’s developed a fondness for the whole booze and pills technique of attention-getting, and over a six month period I spent about 30 hours in emergency waiting rooms before I just stopped going. I’ve had to clean up my mother’s feces when she'd passed out and lost control of her bowels thanks to the laxatives she'd been taking to aid and abet her anorexia, have called in sick for her at her work, and was once woken up in the middle of the night by her fumbling at my door before throwing it open, slamming against the wall, and then collapsing face first into the carpet beside my bed. So, having two adults who actually care about me, and who have never lied to me, or manipulated me, or neglected me in any way, is something that I treasure. When they feel strongly that something is in my best interest, I respond to it much the same way other people respond to the suggestions of their parents. That’s why, when my Auntie Carol tells me how worried she is about me, and how she doesn’t want me to be without work, and how much more secure a government job is compared to working for a private company, I listen.

And, lastly, I really do like the work here. It’s stress-free, deadline-free, and fun, in some bizarre way.

As for why I left so quickly, it’s not because I “hated” anyone there. Obviously not – I love everyone from JWP. And I miss them, because, well, it was nice having a group of people around me with a similar sense of ironic humour. Plus, nobody at my current job reads OR cares about Dooce, or The Bloggess. My last Friday at JWP was just a really terrible day. Ever since the news that I’d handed in my notice had been circulated, I felt really awkward, and out of place. I may have been overly sensitive – okay, I probably WAS -- but it felt like I was being treated differently by people I thought were my friends. And, nobody was making any gestures to show otherwise. Then, when the lunch hour came around and a group of coworkers (friends?) went out for lunch without inviting me, I got pretty upset. There’s always a twinge of wanting to be included in things, but this just seemed about a trillion times worse… I didn’t want to be there for another week of similar emotions. So, contrary to cutting my notice time short because I hated my coworkers, I did it because I cared about them so much that not feeling like I was one of them any more – even if it was by my own design – hurt a lot. And, the subsequent lack of contact with my favourite friend has been even worse.

If it is any consolation, my current bosses are both idiots who like to talk to their staff like we’re in kindergarten; nobody here trusts eachother, and thinks everyone else is a spy sent in by upper management; and my job situation, thanks to the Alberta Government hiring freeze, is more unstable than if I’d just stayed where I was! So, there you go.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Fulfillment of Fantasy, But at What Cost?

On Saturday night, around midnight, I finally turned off my radio and climbed into bed. What is it about settling down for the long sweet haul of sleep that suddenly brings in to sharp focus every single noise being made in a two block radius? Not until I had rested my head on my pillow did I notice (okay, so I was really distracted beforehand) that there was some sort of domestic dispute going on in the apartment next to mine. There was a chick yelling and swearing, and then a dude yelling, though at a much lower decibal, back. So, having grown accustomed to such things in my year living just off Stony Plain Road, I popped my flourescent orange earplugs in my ears and drifted off to sleep.
Speed forward a couple of hours to about 2am when I am jolted awake by the sound of blood-curdling screams coming from the above-mentioned neighbouring apartment. I've actually wondered before about where the term 'blood-curdling' actually stems from. Well, now I know. It was SCREEEEEEAM. Half a second pause. SCREEEEEEEAM. Half a second pause. It sounded like the woman next door had been strapped to a table and was being systematically hacked into by a man with a hatchet. Or a woman with a hatchet... you never know. So I fumble around in a blind panic (literally, it was really dark) and dialed 911, shaking like a leaf and wondering if I was going to get through in time.
I've only called 911 once before, and I can't really remember how it went, but this time I had to go through the main operator, telling her what was happening in a frantic voice, only to be passed through to the police. I'm sure this is efficient, but what the hell? Really, do I have to explain the situation twice? I can only hope that the second person I talked to, from the police division of 911, had dispatched officers right when I was first patched through. Anyways, I tell him what's happening, and he walks me through everything very nicely and patiently, and then tells me that help is on the way. Yay! So, just as I hang up (the screaming has been continuing this whole time) the horrible shrieking stops, and turns into a chick yelling and swearing, and a dude yelling back.
ARRRRRGH. Needless to say, no murder was committed. In fact, as soon as the police started knocking on the door of the possible victim, all sounds ceased and the cops were questioning whether or not I had the direction of the sounds right. But, after I assured all five (FIVE! Woot woot!) of the manly officers that yes, indeed, the screaming was from next door, it sounded like it was right in my freakin' ear, they went back over and I can only assume that they settled things because I did hear a murmur of strong and official voices through the wall.
I just have to say that this kind of shit really pisses me off. Because, first of all, I had to spend (after already spending a half an hour perched on the edge of my bed, cellphone clutched in hand, ears perked for the sound of further violence) another hour and a half trying to calm myself down. Second of all, the time and effort of five very nice and kind police officers was wasted. And third of all, just, ugh. And for what? Because some stupid assholes decide to get drunk and start a fight with eachother? For all I know, that chick was screaming because the dude was packing up his shit to leave.... I sure as hell would have, from the sounds of her. So, now, even though I guess I did the right thing, I'm going to be less likely to follow the same course of action the next time sounds start coming from that direction, a) because it's likely to turn out the same way and I'd really just rather not lose the sleep over it again, and b) because I really just don't give a fuck.