And Now We Breathe…

Any of you that have been reading this for more than about a day know that this has been an incredibly trying, emotional, stressful, worrisome year for me and D.  Yeah, I’ve mentioned it a lot, but I’ve explained very little.

Everything was just hunky-dory until April.  When we left for our cruise, we were both happy and gainfully employed at full-time jobs that we loved.  Okay loved is a stretch.  We were both content and getting paid.

And then we came home from vacation to a whole new world.

We both got up and went to work on Monday morning, but only one of us came home still gainfully employed.  D was laid off.  At that point, I honestly wasn’t that concerned.  Y’all don’t know D.  This man can do ANYTHING.  He is the smartest, most multi-talented person I know.  He knows how to do everything.  Construction, cars, computers… and does it all like a pro.  So I knew he would find something.  Even if it took him a little while, I still wasn’t worried because I knew we could make it on my salary.  Sure we would have to cut back here and there, but we could make it.

That was Monday.  Tuesday, I received a letter in the mail from Human Resources.  I’ll spare you the whole thing, but here are a few loosely quoted excerpts.

“In accordance with the strategy recently announced, adjustments to your hours to match customer needs will be made.  Your office will become a 6-hour per day office.”

“The decrease in the operating hours of your office will be effective 9/30/2014.  However, you will remain in your current position title, occupation code, and grade with your current salary and office operating hours until that time, unless you pursue another career choice prior to 9/30/2014”

“Many employees will be affected, and we recognize that this can be stressful.  This notice is a part of our efforts to keep you informed and to assist you in making the best decision for you and your family.”

Now that doesn’t seem so bad on the surface.  But when you find out what’s involved…whoa.  Rather than just adjusting my salary from 8 to 6 hours, basically cutting my pay by 25%, they were going to reclassify my job, give it a new title, do away with the salary, and put me on an hourly wage making approximately $1.50 more an hour than I did on my very first day on the job as a lowly night-shift peon.

“…we recognize that this can be stressful…”  Well, THERE’S the understatement of 2012!

So D’s laid off, and I’m looking at a maximum of two years of guaranteed full-time employment.  Fan.  Fucking.  Tastic.

Luckily, D’s layoff lasted only two weeks, so that was definitely a good thing, but still there was the cloud hanging over our heads regarding my job.  We can handle D being unemployed for a little while, but it’s MY job that we depend on for the salary and insurance and such.  After being in my office for four years and making it my “home,” I had to start scrambling.  The thing is, the vast majority of the offices around here  got the very same letter I did, so I knew my opportunities were going to be few.  There were going to be a few positions opening up over the next few months, but there were a lot of people just like me (approximately 13,000 nationwide) that were going to be fighting for the few full-time positions that were left.

On August 25th, they posted the first round of vacancies.  As I suspected, there was one local to me, and two just inside a one-hour commute range.  The rest, as I have mentioned before, would have required a relocation.  But I simply couldn’t NOT apply for them.  I couldn’t allow myself to only put in for the three jobs around here.  Sure I was just as qualified for them as anyone else, but there were a lot of “anyone elses” competing with me, so nothing was guaranteed.  If I hadn’t gotten one of them and all of these other vacancies were filled and I didn’t at least apply for them, I’d have never forgiven myself.  So I applied for 17 of them.  My cutoff for this round was a 200-mile range.  I figured that was close enough that I could rent through the week and drive home on Friday after work and stay until Monday morning.  I still had until 9/30/14, so if I didn’t get one, I still had two years to broaden my search to places farther away, but I wouldn’t do that until I was desperate.

Last Thursday I found out that out of the 17 offices I applied for, I made it through the review committee to move on to the interview round for 10 of them.  The local-to-me office was one of them, along with one of the one-hour commute ones, and eight that were a good ways off.

The interviews were Monday and Tuesday.  Preparing for one interview is hard enough, but TEN???  That’s just downright overwhelming.  And the way they were doing it… all of those 10 offices fell under three managers, so when you interviewed with a manager, you were interviewing for all of the offices under him.  Luckily they were all done over the phone so I could have notes about all the offices spread out all over the desk in front of me.

My last interview was Tuesday at 11:00.  It was odd how much better I felt after that.  I was so relieved just to be done with the interviews.  I felt like they had gone pretty well, and yeah I was still worried about the outcome, but at that point I knew that I had done everything in my power, and had done it to the best of my ability.  If I didn’t get one of these positions, it wasn’t because I didn’t give it my all.  I was told during the interviews that the managers had to have their decisions made and submitted to the District office by close-of-business Friday and that I would hear something back no later than the following Tuesday.

Fastforward to Thursday.  I wasn’t expecting to hear anything yet.  I figured I would have to wait and wonder all weekend, so I was really trying not to think about it.  So there I was at work, doing my normal thing, when the phone rings.  It was one of the managers I interviewed with.  The conversation went a little something like this:

Manager:  Hey, Pam, how ya doing today?
Me:  Well, that depends largely on why you’re calling me.
Manager:  Oh, I just wanted to ask you a quick question.
Me:  Oh, okay.  What’s up?
Manager:  How would you like to work for me at _________ office?

It was the office I wanted.  The one 12 miles from my house.  The one that meant I would remain at home with my husband and my cat and my dogs where I belong.

Now I fully grasp what the phrase “weak in the knees” means.  In a split second, my legs almost went out from under me as I leaned my back against the wall and felt tears of relief sting my eyes.  It was over.  The worrying, the waiting, the limbo.  OVER.

He told me to try to contain myself the rest of that day while he notified the other applicants that didn’t get the job.  And I did.  Unless you count telling my husband, parents, sister, best friend, a couple of other friends, and a couple of close co-workers.

I feel like I’m back.  I haven’t been fully present for a long time now.  After holding my breath for five months, I’m finally able to breathe again, and do it with a smile.

9 thoughts on “And Now We Breathe…

  1. I'm glad things are working out for you. I'm thoroughly disgusted at the way companies treat employees these days. They demand your job to be your priority over your own health, family and general life, and when you dedicate yourself they cut hours, reclassify and take away OT or pull the rug out from under you completely. I've seen this happening to so many people lately…it's awful. I'm so glad you were able to find a solution.


  2. Hooray! I'm so glad that it worked out for you (and that D. wasn't unemployed for long). I can very much empathize with job and career stress. Right now is the point in the year when academic jobs are advertised and there are only about 5 in my field of specialty right now in the US. I have a job now thankfully, but the stress of having been on the job market for the past few years has almost caused me to panic anyway out of habit.


  3. so very happy for you and trust me at this moment I can truly appreciate what this most mean for you.

    I have to say that this post got me teary because I see hope…that it can all turn out OK….I am glad it did for you…I really am


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