July 21, 2014

Rug. Pull. Pain.

I don't even know where to start with this rant - I'm so confused and angry. Briefly: for two glorious weeks, M and I were led to believe that he would be receiving a hefty promotion. Something beyond our wildest dreams that would allow us to pay off student loans and save for adoption much faster than we'd hoped. Today, the bottom dropped out of that dream.

The sum up of the situation is that M is getting a promotion. He has greatly increased responsibilities, including supervising 3 employees. And he did get a raise in salary, however it falls short of the original figure M was floated by nearly $20K. That's the rug pull.

The facilities manager at M's work put in his 2 week notice at the end of May and the company decided to cannibalize his job rather than hire in someone for the exact same position. Part of his job, supervision of a specific area of the facility, was passed on to M. He was told about this additional responsibility and started doing the job over a month ago. Without a formal offer. With no knowledge about how they were going to promote him, what his new title would be, or what they would compensate him. But they were "working on it".

Three weeks after M was already doing the job, he finally had a meeting with HR. They still did not have a formal offer prepared for him, but they could tell him some basics: what his new title would be and what pay class their offer was being based on. The minimum salary in the pay class he was told was about $25K more than he was currently earning. We were dumbfounded. We didn't know what to do. We could finally pay off the student loans. Adoption would absolutely be within our reach. It was scary. It was wonderful.

It was a lie.

Two weeks after this meeting, today: the offer was finally in writing. FINALLY. M has been doing this job without formally being offered it for over a month. The promotion doesn't go into effect for another 2 weeks. The pay is nothing like he was told. To me, knowing how hard he works and how much more he is going to have to work now, the pay is a step above a slap in the face. Plus, he qualified for overtime pay in his "old" position and his "new" position is fully salary, so no overtime no matter how many hours he works.

I don't think I would be quite as upset as I am if HR had not told him a figure that was either patently false, or not set in stone. Who does that? Who waves a huge carrot and then snatches it away with no explanation? Yes, the number they told him was above and beyond anything we hoped for, but the truth fell so very short of how much I thought they valued him. I was terrified they would low-ball him and that is exactly what they did - *after* they lied and made it seem like he was getting an *amazing* promotion. Two gut punches, one right after the other. If their "real" offer had been $10K less than what we were told 2 weeks ago, I wouldn't have been upset at all. It was a number I thought was within reach if they really valued M.

I am thankful M has a job. I am thankful there is some upward mobility at his facility. I am thankful that the money we are earning right now is more than sufficient for us to live on. We are not struggling. I recognize that these are each things that many people our age don't have. Even with college degrees. We are extremely fortunate. I just wish we had never been lied to. I wish the "dream salary" had never been told to us. I wish we had been told from the start, *way* back at the beginning of June, just what this promotion would entail and the "value" that his employers placed on that work.

I am going to pray for perspective, and patience, and calm. To be thankful for the small advance that we have made. To let this go and just move forward. But today it is raw and new and I just want to punch someone for messing with us.

July 09, 2014


Harlem, by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

      Or does it explode?

I feel like all my dreams are on hold. Put off into the future for one reason or another. I feel like a derailed train. Or a train bound for the wrong destination. Have I missed the last switch-track? Can I get back on the rails and moving again?

I wish I had known in college just how out of step I would feel doing "traditional" work. I tell people there must be something wrong with me because I think it's crazy to spend a life toiling away in an office. Maybe I just have a sucky work ethic? Maybe I'm un-American. I used to dream about staying at home and homesteading, only when I was feeling particularly stressed out and crazy. And I've told myself it is a silly fantasy. But I think more and more about it lately. I think about how much better of a parent I could be if I didn't work full time. I think about how self-sufficient and environmentally friendly and *healthy* my life could be. If I could be home. Instead of in an office, dreaming of the things I would do if I had the time. There is never enough time; I am forever away from home. And when I am home, all I have time to do is play catch up with all the chores that I've fallen behind on. Because I was sitting in an office somewhere doing nothing particularly important. Just wasting time.

I want more time for gardening, time to learn canning and other food preservation methods, I even want to learn how to spin wool! I'm going to try to slowly learn these things anyway, but it takes so much time and there's so little I can do in one sitting. I want more time for projects around the house, things I know I can do or learn to do. I want to feel useful, like the things I do matter. I want to wear the clothes that I like, instead of whatever is "professional" and "office appropriate". I want to sing, prance, curse, and laugh as loud as I like. All things that you reeeeally can't do in an office. I want to do work that feels satisfying. I want to stop feeling like I'm wasting my life. I want to *live*.

It's not that I don't want to work. I do. I just want to do different work. Work that serves my family and maybe my community (if I could ever get good enough at something to sell or trade). I'm happy with my hands in the dirt. I feel accomplished when I'm covered in sweat after finishing a task. Why did it take me so long to figure this out? I feel like I'm living someone else's life. Is this a mid-life crisis?

Unfortunately, my desire to live a simpler life remains a dream deferred. We cannot get by on just one paycheck yet. Not with student loan debt. Not if we want to adopt. And I hate that it feels like I am choosing between having children or living a more enjoyable and satisfying life.

Langston Hughes was right - it sags, like a heavy load. I will keep dreaming though because right now, it keeps me going.