Friday, July 25, 2008

Lapse

I've been gone a while.

Truth is, I'm too depressed about life to share my thoughts. In January, my employer told me that one of my jobs (I have two) was going to be scaled back significantly. The loss to my family's budget has been significant. We've managed to survive on some careful spending, our tax refund, and some minor contract work. I've been trying to find part-time contracting work, but that has proven so unsuccessful that I've had to resort to looking for new full-time employment.

My employer has been absolutely no help in assisting me in fixing a problem they arbitrarily caused.

Truth is, I've worked for the same employer for 8 years and I've never had a serious reevaluation of my salary. Just the standard-issue, "we have to give them something", 2% per anum. For those who are still living in their Y2K shelters, 2% doesn't even begin to cover cost of living anymore. I've also added a house and two kids to the family budget. Conversely, I've added significant technical skills and a Masters degree in that time as well. A look at Monster.com shows I'm being paid $10K less than the 25th percentile for my job classification in my area (for those from Manistee, it means 75% of people with my same job in the town I live in make at least $10,000 a year more than I do). My employer tells me that there is no money in the budget for a salary adjustment. However, there is money for 2 Lacrosse, Cross-country, and track teams in the budget. There is money to send the executive staff to Arizona for "strategic planning". There is money to send the entire faculty to a resort for two days 200 miles away.

Truth is, what I'm hearing from the outside is that my employer is so unethical in their approach to employee compensation, that serious efforts to keep employees only come after an official offer has been made or actually accepted. I'm hearing from the recruiters I'm working with that some of them won't even look at a current employee where I work unless they're certain a counter offer won't be made or if one is made the candidate won't take it. Apparently, it is not uncommon to receive a counter offer as part of your outbound HR processing.

For me, it has come down to a point where I'm entirely jaded with respect to the work I do. Used to be, I'd learn a new skill or take on some responsibility mostly because my boss wanted me to do it. I did it thinking I'd get a reputation for being a "team player" and willing to pitch in wherever I was needed. What I've come to understand is that, for my efforts, I've secured a reputation of taking on responsibilities without compensation. When my old boss got promoted and the department needed a PHP developer who knew about Drupal, I got the call and inherited about half a dozen Drupal sites...gratis. There wasn't even talk about paying me for the additional work. Conversely, the guy in the cube next to me takes on the SQL Server administration and there is a nice stipend attached to his pay check. Now I'm being asked to take on some pretty major pieces of software and I'm left wondering how I approach this situation?

I guess I'm mostly just tired of being told how valuable I am, but not valuable enough to work to keep me. I'm tired of groveling for work. I'm tired of sending resumes that disappear into the relentless data stream of the internet. I'm tired of working for peanuts.

I'm tired of the dark storm clouds circling over head. The lightning splits the sky and the winds are picking up. My family has done nothing wrong and I want to reassure them that everything is going to be OK. I just wish I believed it myself.

God will provide. While an important truth to cling to, it seems right now to be just a cliche or a mantra to be repeated as if the mere repetition of it will bring comfort. I can take little comfort from just words. "God will provide" has become to me the motivation to keep searching and keep working, not a hope that everything will be OK. I look around my house and see so much we don't need, but have built up rationalizations that we need. As such, "God will provide" doesn't include a lot of what has made my life comfortable and enjoyable.

I have a couple irons in the fire. One opportunity would require relocating to another state, the other is closer to home. Staying where I am no longer seems like a viable option. The job I worked so hard to get two years ago is now something detrimental to my family. The stupid thing about all this is that it is really just about money. Of all the idiotic things to lose an employee over, or to quit a fantastic job over, money has to be the worst. My employer thinks nothing of wasting the amount of money it would take to keep me here and yet, when I ask I'm scolded for even asking for a raise. My employer is so screwed up in its policies, I can't even ask my boss for a raise, he has absolutely nothing to say about it. The people who can make a difference are so unapproachable, I'm likely to get stopped before I get past the administrative assistant.

I wish I had something better to talk about. The Supreme Court recognized the 2nd Amendment as an individual right paving the way for some of the most drastic roll backs of gun control legislation in several generations. While I'm happy about such a development, I can't muster up any enthusiasm. It is an election year and we have to candidates so flawed it defies cataloging, but again, no enthusiasm. My employment debacle consumes so much of my thoughts and efforts that I can scarcely think of anything else. That's ultimately what I want. I want to think about my job, not my employment situation. I want to think about my family, and not see everything in terms of what we stand to lose. I want to stop apologizing to my son because of the likelihood that that he'll have to have someone else watch him and that he won't get the advantages his sister got. I want to stop feeling like everything I've worked for over the last five years was for nothing.

I hope the next month changes things for the better for my family.

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