Lunaya Pravda

13 August 2007

Step up to the plate and swing!

I promised myself that come Monday, I'd decide whether Company A or Company B would employ me. Unfortunately for me, someone who dwells, I spent most of the weekend mulling it all over--sleeping little, eating even less, fretting with the weight on my soul. B. was the only person who managed to get my mind off the whole sordid affair for any measurable length of time, and I'm grateful for those precious moments where I could forget the decision pressing on me.

This morning, I arrived to work nearly three hours earlier than usual. First, horrid construction has been threatening the commute of South Sounders, and warnings have been issued for some time about how bad the drive downtown could be, so I wanted to get on the road as early as humanly possible. Second, I really do have plenty of work to get done, and the early morning hours in a silent office make it feasible. But last, I wanted a last few moments in the almost religious silence where I wasn't given over to wonderings and suspicions about how much my coworkers knew. On Friday, some of the glances I got made it pretty clear who was in the know, and I didn't really care to repeat the gawk show upon my arrival today.

Oddly, my manager arrived early, too, and though I know he's busy, I suspect the hour might have had something to do with me. I'd formulated the main points of my speech over the endless weekend, and needed a few hours to work on my nerves, so I didn't immediately seek him out for a meeting. Later on, I emailed him and we agreed to meet at 10.

At the appointed hour, I went to his office, and we snagged a small conference table in one of the partners' offices for neutral ground and some privacy.

My first goal was to make it plainly clear that I wasn't drawing any joy from the situation. Though some high-powered career types probably get off on having their employer over a barrel, that isn't a position I've ever wanted. He understood, and apologized for making this so much harder on me--a slight understatement. If he'd just wished me well and sent me on my way, I'd have had a weekend devoted to enjoyable pursuits, not ruminating over the decision facing me.

Then I laid out my bottom line. I'd accept the salary they've offered upon three conditions. First, in 9 months, the company would agree to renegotiate my salary based upon my performance with the new responsibilities I'll be taking on--a mid-year raise. Second, I'd be sent out for a specific kind of training, and the sooner the better. And last, that I'd be sent to the major GIS user's conference in San Diego next year, with no restrictions upon how many days I could attend. My previous manager just couldn't abide the thought of me being gone for an entire week, and put so many caveats on my attendance that he killed my motivation to go.

The look of relief on my manager's face...well, it won't be soon wiped from memory. He honestly believed I'd chase the money, that the company never had a chance of retaining me. And he confessed that he'd been worrying about some of my same concerns. Those worries came from a friend hoping to see me in a good career, not from a manager hoping to retain me. He shared my fears over the economy and the "too good to be true" salary, over the potential loss of workload and billable hours which, in consulting, are everything. He'd have laid claim to none of those fears if he were acting completely on the best interests of the company. He was worried I'd be stuck and unhappy, or perhaps worse.

And I confided in him some of the reasons I decided to stay. In addition to the fears we shared, I told him my concerns about the honesty and integrity of the woman under whom I'd be working, concerns I don't have with this company. The fact that our minds both reached the same conclusion independently has me feeling completely at ease with my decision. He agreed to everything I asked for, and it will be in writing tomorrow.

Not half an hour later, one of the project mangers ducked into my cubicle and said "A little bird told me a rumor you just made my year!" and then ducked out to a meeting before I could respond. Our IT manager found me later and said "I'm glad you're staying." So far, everyone's been supportive, and I've gained the knowledge that I have some rather powerful allies in my corner. All I can hope for now is that in the coming months, I can look back on this and grok the rightness of my choices.

I can't adequately thank everyone who provided advice to me. The folks who chose to comment, my friends M., B., and T. who suffered through my one-track mind over the weekend, and my family--all your advice, patience, and thoughtful responses were all part of my decision-making process and cannot be overvalued!

Now, in this moment, I have the unrivaled clarity and calm I was so sorely lacking over the past week. Perhaps now a sound, dreamless sleep will grace me with her presence.

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