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Friday, February 18, 2005

Second Day Blues

It started to hit about midnight last night. The undeniable doldrums and sense of foreboding. It was difficult to get to sleep, but I did, and slept quite well. This morning, I was able to fight the debilitating depression and get a few things done.

At least I managed to finish cleaning up my resume and met with a business consultant friend of mine who gave me a dozen names from his database. I also called a couple other people and met with my immigration attorney to talk strategy. I sent a draft of my resume to about twenty of my contacts a couple of whom have replied with critiques. I managed to finish editing my resume and completed research on a few positions that I would like to apply.

So in the end, I rewarded myself with a little time updating my blog (with books that impacted my life - a result of thinking through, and writing my resume). All in all a better-than-expected day. In between though, I had to fight off some tough feelings of despair, fear and self-pity.

Thanks to John, Rey and Dawn for leaving encouraging comments to my previous post.

Someone from my small group fellowship suggested to me that my boss did not fire me, but instead she released me from an intolerable situation. Actually I see it more like she fired me, but God used her to release me from that situation. (Gen 50:20).
20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Dawn, when I was laid off three years ago, I used to tell people that I was hanging on by the skin of my teeth but yet I could sense "underneath (are) the everlasting arms" of the Lord (Deut 33:27).

27 The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, 'Destroy him!'
You know the straw that broke the camel's back at the office was this: first, two weeks ago, my (former) boss while on vacation realized that she had to fly to San Francisco for a presentation to the client that I brought in (the largest single account ever in the history of the business - an account that she summarily took from my hands and declared that because it was such a large account she was going to take over, making the excuse that the client has requested that she does so... long story). She knew about the presentation a few days prior but when she arrived on the Monday, she called me to the office and asked if I "knew" exactly what the client wanted for the presentation.

Being the philosopher that I sometimes am inclined to be, I replied, I had a good idea but I did not know. She was all over me. She lectured me for not knowing, for allowing my Executive Officer to step into the "Lion's Den" as it were without being prepared. Mine you it was Monday 8:30 a.m. The presentation was scheduled for Wednesday 4 P.M. How dare I not be 1000% prepared? Why didn't I ask the right questions? Why didn't I already know that those were her expectations?

After about 40 minutes of her soul-sapping harangue, I cried, "Dragon lady (my aka for her, of course I used her real name), please, stop!" I then commented something about leadership styles and more productive use of leadership energies. She stopped me short.

"How dare you lecture me on leadership?" (If only she knew, I am writing my MA thesis on the "Ethics of Leaderhsip!" Isn't life sometimes ironically comical?)

Dragon Lady went on a tirade, but before she could go very far, I said, "Dragon Lady, no, you misunderstand me, I am not lecturing you about leadership. I am only saying what I am feeling as a follower."

"Feeling? You want to know about feeling? Let me tell you what I am feeling!" She then continued her spiel about her, her feelings, her frustration, her anger and angst. (You see, it is always about her).

I stopped her once more, "We are not being productive. It is now past 9 a.m. and we have been sitting here talking (more like she has been talking). Why don't you tell me what you want and let me get you all the information so that you can be 1000% prepared?"

She went on for another 10 minutes before she let up. Finally she calmed down enough to realize that she was really being unproductive and proceeded to bark commands to me and another staff to get things done for her, in her way.

That was nail #1 on the coffin (or door of emancipation, depending on your perspective).

That week, unfortunately I had an emergency involving my daughters that required me to leave the office on Tuesday afternoon, Thursday morning and then Friday afternoon as well. She was extremely and mightily displeased. You see, she thinks that as an exempt employee, I must work at least 40 hours a week. At least. If I worked more, the law says according to her, that I am not entitled to compensatory time off. If I worked less, according to her reading of the law, I must make up for the time. So it doesn't matter if I had worked extra hours before I had to take personal time off. I must show her how I make up the time after I had done so.

While discussing on the telephone on Friday, she said something about "emergencies not happening in threes." When I tried to interject, or at least to ask why she is questioning my integrity, she answered, and this is not an exageration, "Why do you need to answer back everytime your supervisor is reprimanding you or disciplining you?" I answered, "So do you think my taking time off for personal emergencies require reprimanding?" Fortunately or unfortunately we were having the conversation on the mobile phones and the connection was broken so she did not hear me.

In reality, I worked late every day for at least two weeks prior to those emergencies, and again that very week as well as the following week. So last week, I wrote her an email showing her the times I worked and expressing the fact that I had given more than I had taken. That was probably nail #2, for she hates to lose. Anything. Especially an argument with her subordinates.

The final nail is this: after a year and a half of working with this company she finally decided to buy me a mobile phone. I had observed that my colleagues had to use their own personal mobile phones to report to her whenever they are on the road. You see, she demands a verbal report while you are coming from an appointment.

Just on that principle, I refused to get myself a mobile phone for I do not believe that she should require me to use my personal mobile phone to conduct business without reimbursement. She finally decided to get me one because she needs to get in touch with me when I am driving or otherwise out of the office.

She wrote me a memo and required me to sign it as an agreement for using a company supplied mobile phone. In part, she wrote that the mobile phone was issued to me as a benefit in lieu of an increase in my salary. I replied with an email saying to her that that part of the agreement was never discussed, that the reasons cited previously why she decided to equip me with a mobile phone was that she needed to get a hold of me, and that a vendor had complained that I did not have a business mobile phone and was difficult to get in touch.

I wrote words to these effects: "Quite apart from the fact that I seriously doubt equipping a field sales account manager with a business mobile telephone constitute a benefit, we never discuss it as such. In fact, a business mobile telephone ought to be considered a "tool" of the trade for a field sales person. However, if you really believe that this is (1) a benefit, and (2) that it is provided in lieu of a salary increase, then I respectfully decline the benefit and request that to have my salary increased instead."

Her reply was short and terse, "Pls return the mobile phone immediately."

Then yesterday, after calling me into her office, she began the conversation by saying, "I wrote you an email and you did not like what I wrote. In any case the company is not in good shape financially, so I have decided to lay you off."

Yeah. Right.

So, you see? God used her. He used her to set me free. The thing is, He is going to work a miracle. Only that it might not be in the shape or form that I expect. That's why I am trepidating (ok, don't need to flusterate. It may not be a word, but I can be creative can't I?)