Two weeks ago things seemed pretty OK. I was starting to feel like I was OK in this world, like I had a chance at being happy… eventually. I thought I had a grasp on life. I thought I stood a chance at finally having some of the things I wanted. I was a fool.
Two weeks ago, I received an e-mail from the facilitator of the coming out support group I’ve been going to (and I still use the word “group” loosely as it’s only ever been the two of us in the room.) The e-mail was to inform me of a change in the schedule and that the meeting would be taking place on Monday nights going forward. I can’t go on Monday nights. I’m disappointed but a little relieved too. The group really only serves a purpose in my life if it’s a group and it’s not. Door closed. I went home and watched TV and felt particularly lonely and vulnerable. I wanted to drink.
Two weeks ago, I got a bonus in my paycheck. Not a huge bonus, only a couple hundred dollars after taxes, but a bonus none the less. I spent all of it and then some in a matter of hours… well, 24 to be honest.
That day, I paid a bunch of bills – in some cases over and above what I needed to pay – because I had the money and wanted to get ahead. Saturday, I went shopping. I thought I knew how much money I had to spend and I thought I was staying within that amount. I bought a new pair of running shoes, having gone to a running store that offers a service to analyze your walk/run and help you find the right type of shoes for your specific needs. The shoes were a little more than I wanted to spend on them but it was OK, I had the money. If they help, they’ll be worth it. It’s been two weeks and I haven’t found out yet.
I went to Target for some necessities and while I was there I bought some things I didn’t have to have but have been wanting. It was OK, though, because I had the money and now I could.
I went to Albertson’s (I refuse to call them Lucky, which is now their name, because Lucky had lousy service when they were here before) and did my grocery shopping. I went for necessary groceries, including things for lunches at work. I also needed some Triple Sec, an ingredient in a shrimp dish I like to make. I left with all the ingredients for Long Island Teas, forty dollars worth of liquor. Sixty-two days, out the window.
I went home, fixed a drink and started putting my new purchases away. I fixed dinner, ate, watched some TV and went to bed.
Sunday, I woke up, feeling a familiar kind of not great that I haven’t felt in a while. I went through my usual routine of catching up on Twitter, checking Words with Friends, and looking at my e-mail on my iPhone. Every day the bank sends me an e-mail with my available bank balance. When I opened the e-mail, my heart stopped. I fucked up. I mean, I didn’t just mess up a little… I FUCKED UP!! I had completely forgotten about two sizeable expenses, and my bank account was going to be hundreds of dollars over-drawn, the business day after I got paid… with two weeks of “sucks to be me” to follow. AND I had my weekly outing with Lil’B to deal with. Fortunately, I’d already bought the passes to the day’s entertainment, but that wasn’t the entirety of the day’s expenses. After I dropped him off, I returned everything I could to Target and hoped for the best. I was able to put off the two sizable expenses to the next pay check and when it was all said and done, I didn’t over-draw my account. On the other hand, I’ve had $12.19 in my checking account for thirteen days now and that’s not a good feeling. When my pay check goes into the bank at midnight tonight, more than half of it will already be accounted for.
One week ago, I got ambushed with my annual review. I say I got ambushed because my boss said we were having our “Individual Monthly Meetings” which we have about once a quarter, and I didn’t know he was giving us our evaluations that day, until K came into my office with hers to show me, even though I didn’t really want to see it. It was full of the usual fluff bullshit about what a great job she’s doing (even though she’ll be the first to tell you she doesn’t do much) and how she’s always so willing to take on extra duties even though she has a very heavy workload (which she doesn’t have and has never gotten the opportunity to take on extra duties EVEN THOUGH SHE HAS ASKED…)
My boss waited until 4:00 in the afternoon to do mine. When I found out we were having our meetings this didn’t surprise me, when I found out we were getting our reviews and the other two were being done in the morning, I became suspicious. He started out by saying that he had wanted to give me a “Successful Minus” but that the policy is if the employee gets any “Partially Successful” ratings than the overall rating has to be “Partially Successful”. (The choices are Unsatisfactory, Partially Successful, Successful or Exceptional.) So, on a review with seven questions I got five Successful and two Partially Successful, giving me an overall rating of Partially Successful. The two items on which I was rated Partially Successful:
Teamwork: Provides meaningful contributions and actively participates in team and Labor Management Partnership activities. Works effectively through disagreements using conflict resolution or interest-based techniques. Emphasizes team goals over own interests. Works cross-functionally to deliver the highest quality service and results.
Openness to Change and Development: Reflects on own performances identifies areas of improvement and actively seeks and uses feedback. Progresses toward personal development goals. Seeks guidance from others and quickly adapts to changing environments and direction.
Where asked for specifics he wrote:
Kevin needs to be a more active team member and show more initiative. He is reluctant to answer the office phones when we are short staffed and help out more in keeping the office area organized. He needs to make more of an effort to adapt to organizational changes. When the responsibility for moves and office reconfigurations was taken from him, he resisted assuming additional responsibilities such as the Green Program. He was not very successful in organizing building green teams and promoting the RBO Green Initiative in the building.
When presenting my review to me he made a point of saying, “This isn’t that bad.” Several times he said, “This isn’t that bad. I don’t want you to be discouraged by this.” Finally, I told him, “I’m not disappointed, John. I’m pissed off! This is bullshit.”
You see, I’ve never been “reluctant to answer the phones when we are short staffed.” The fact is we have two employees in our office whose job it is to answer the main phone lines. They are both union employees and I am not. It is a violation of the company’s contract with their union for a non-union employee to do any work that is designated to be their job. Obviously, sometimes that has to be set aside and assistance has to be rendered, but it should not be a rule of thumb.
But see, K has no problem covering all the phones when Bertha is out of the office. She has no problem placing calls on hold to answer another line and very rarely needs assistance with the phones, and when she does? I give it. Bertha, on the other hand, doesn’t feel like she should have to cover the phones by herself and doesn’t try very hard to do it. When she is clearly over-loaded, I do help her with the phones, but I do not lunge at the phone every time it rings, just because she’s the only one here and she happens to be on the other line. I told John this and explained that the only thing I am “reluctant” to do is accept answering the phones as one of my primary responsibilities when I am not in the union and when the other non-union employee in our department is not expected to help, at all, ever. I told him the problem isn’t with my willingness to help, it’s with who is determining when that help is needed (Bertha) and how willing that person is to do her best. To his credit he agreed.
I also told him I didn’t even know what “and help out more in keeping the office area organized” meant. The only answer he could give me was that our backroom (which I have nothing to do with except that the coffee maker, microwave, refrigerator, printer and fax machine are back there) is always a mess. I asked him why that was my problem and why it should be my problem when the department Secretary (K) doesn’t do anything about it? I don’t do anything to contribute to the mess back there, but no, I don’t do anything to clean it up either and why should I if I’m going to be the only one? Once again, he agreed. He actually removed these two items from my evaluation before submitting it, not that it had any impact on the overall rating.
With regard to the “Green program”, I was given the ambiguous task of establishing a program to promote… well, being “Green”. The Recycling program that I created six years ago is suddenly not good enough anymore and I’m supposed to come up with something new and better. I began this process and found out that my companies National Purchasing Department was in the process of establishing a national contract for waste hauling and it seemed to be in the finishing stages. The outcome of this process would impact our operations and so I stopped working on the program pending the outcome of the contract negotiations. I hate spinning my wheels. I explained this to John quite some time ago and he agreed that it was the right thing to do. Beyond this, I really had no idea what he wanted the “Green Program“ to be or what it could do.
The reality is I’m not a “Green” person. I recycle at home because we’re “supposed to” and because the city makes it pretty simple. I do not believe that the “necessity” of going Green is real. I do not believe that this planet is in such dire straights. I do not believe that it’s important. This does not mean I won’t do the job that’s assigned to me, but it does mean that I’m probably not the best person for it because I don’t know what’s available or doable, or worthwhile, or financially feasible. Every time John and I have met and talked about this, there have been things discussed that hinged on him providing me with some pertinent information or other and every time he has failed to provide it.
I also told him months ago, that I’m not particularly passionate about the topic and wasn’t sure I was the best person to do the job. It came up that my “counterpart” at the other building, who took over the moves and furniture responsibilities from me last year, had also been working on a Green initiative and had, apparently, done a good job with it. I suggested that if he was passionate about the concept, and if he wanted to do the Green Program for both buildings, I would be willing to accept taking over the moves function for both buildings from him in exchange for him taking over the Green Program for both buildings.
I’m not arguing that the task didn’t get done and I’m not arguing that it was a “failure” but I am arguing how much responsibility I hold for it. Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem accepting criticism when it’s accurate and justified… This is not.
I’m pissed, and this just serves to remind me how much I hate this job and working for this man and this company. It renewed my determination that I must find something else. The economy is turning around finally. I thought maybe, just maybe, it won’t be so impossible to find something else. But in the meantime, I hate coming to work and I hate being in this environment.
Essentially, my review was unfavorable because I don’t do two other peoples’ jobs well enough and because I can’t read the mind of an unreliable, scatterbrained boss and because I’m not privy to a considerable amount of information that applies directly to the work I’ve been asked to do. I don’t blame the two people whose jobs “I don’t do well enough”. It’s not their fault that John is passive aggressive and used those excuses to criticize me for God only knows what reason.
Nonetheless, I was in a very unpleasant mood when I came back to work last Friday. I wasn’t interested in taking it out on anyone, but I also wasn’t in any sort of mood to pretend to feel something I didn’t. When I received an instant message from K, at 8:30 in the morning asking me, for what felt like the zillionth time, if I’d had a chance to try out my new shoes, I bristled. In the course of a split second I felt angry and defensive at the question; realized it was because I was anticipating having to defend myself; realized that I might be wrong about that, but didn’t really feel like I wanted to find out; considered how I might reply to the inquiry so as to not be rude, but still not open the door to further conversation; and realized that there was nothing I could say that would make us both feel good so the best thing was to not say anything at all.
I set about trying to find some good job postings to respond to and there were a couple of listings for Project Coordinators that seemed like they might be viable. So I responded to them, realizing that the worst case scenario is that nothing ever comes of them.
Somewhat to my surprise and relief, K didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day. Since I was in such a foul mood and anybody who saw me would know it, this seemed like a good thing, until 5:01:22 when she was on her way out and she stopped short in front of my door, turned on her heel and accosted me.
“So what seems to be the problem now?” she asked hostilely.
“Nothing that has anything to do with you,” I replied, sullenly.
“Yeah, well, it’s kinda hard to tell with you these days,” she told me in a huff. “I asked you a question this morning and you…” Blah, blah, blah. I don’t even actually know what she said after that.
“Sorry ‘bout that,” I replied in a way that was clear I really wasn’t sorry and that she shouldn’t be making a mountain out of this particular mole hill, although it was clearly already too late.
“Yeah, well. Things have been weird between us for a while now, so I just thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you that I’m just not going to talk to you any more.”
I glared up at her. “I just got through telling you that it’s got nothing to do with you, but it’s clear that something is going on, so NOW REALLY FEELS LIKE THE RIGHT TIME FOR THIS?”
“Nope,” she replied. “I’m just telling you.” And she stormed off.
I have a tendency to assume that I’m to blame for these things. I tend to look at it over and over and find all kinds of ways in which I could have done something wrong that I should be sorry about. But you know what? Not this time. K’s question was insignificant. It was asked over technology which is notorious for failing at the randomest of times. She doesn’t know if I even saw her question, let alone what my motivation was for not answering. She made no further attempt to ask it. If she really was my friend she would have picked up on my OBVIOUSLY BAD MOOD and either steered clear, or God forbid, asked me if I was OK. But she didn’t. She sat at her desk all day long and fumed over the slight that she perceived I had sent her way. And then instead of realizing that I had something going on that she clearly didn’t know about or understand, she lashed out at me.
The last time we had a “falling out”, it sort of got better. She’s right, things have been “weird” between us, because I couldn’t let us fall back into the same old patterns and she was trying really hard to do just that. But we had found a place to be friendly, if not truly friends. This time, we’re done. She’s too much work (and I probably am too). She’s too high maintenance, and really not worth the effort. But no matter how better off I might be, this was still a really bad time for her to pull that stunt.
Tuesday, I got a call from a recruiter for a reputable property management company that I’ve applied to more than once. She had a Project Coordinator position to fill and wanted to discuss my background with me a bit further. The outcome of that conversation was the same as dozens of others. I don’t have any practical experience running projects and I’m not qualified for a position like that. Those, by the way, are her words, not mine. So, I get it. I’m never going to be a Project anything. I’m not qualified to do anything I like and I can’t make enough money to live doing anything I am qualified for. I’m cornered in this shit-hole of a job, without even any viable options outside of my department. I’m totally and completely trapped.
Through all this, I haven’t really had it in me to go to the gym. I still have the greatest of intentions, but getting up so early in the morning has just been unthinkable and going after work hasn’t even been on the agenda. Apparently, I now think of myself as a morning gym person and going in the evenings isn’t really an option, except I haven’t been going in the morning. I did go for my Monday night session with Tawaiin though. I paid for it after all; I should take advantage of it. But I wasn’t in the mindset of being there. And my body wasn’t interested either. I struggled a lot with what he had me doing and by the end of the session, I wanted to deck him. I felt like he was pushing me, mentally, too hard, and I was not pleased. Add to that the fact that its Easter/Girl Scout Cookie season and I’ve been eating some very delicious chocolate-y things that, of course, I should not be. I haven’t really gained any weight (yet) but I haven’t lost any either and he’s supposed to take measurements and weigh me in next Monday. I assume, that’s not going to go well, and I’m not looking forward to dealing with it… which only makes me want more chocolate-y things and more liquor-y things.
In the midst of all this, I had two back to back nights of dreams. Really lovely things that made me feel warm and gooey inside and happy to be alive… until I woke up and realized that not only were they just dreams, but they were about as far from ever being reality as spontaneous self propelled human flight.
I’m done. I’m just so done. I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to fight this anymore. I’ve spent so much time and energy believing that there must be something better out there and it’s just a matter of finding it… There’s not. I know that now. There’s nothing in this world worth sticking around for. Except, wouldn’t you know it. I’m too much of a wimp, even, to rectify that.
I don’t know.