Wednesday, June 06, 2012

"What are we going to do without you?"

To get it out of the way, I have been told that I "suckle at the government's tit."

I've worked for the State as a low level office drone for almost seven years. For most of my years I've pushed paper and answered phones. I've done piddly-ass work so that the "real" work, the "important" work, can be done by those higher up.

I used to work for a different department, but there was no place to go there. My boss told me that. So, I moved where I thought there would be opportunities. I moved where the money was. A month later, the money was gone and so were the opportunities. Plus, I hated, HATED my boss and the work that I was doing. It wore me down.

So, even though I had sent out a bunch of applications for a position that's a step higher I took a job at the same level within the same department, but with a different supervisor. Stress level, better. Sleep, no longer full of creepy dreams about babies. It took 13 months to get out of it, though.

After a couple of month of working in the new position, sometime in January, my boss took me aside and basically asked me what the hell I was doing at my level. I told her that I'd been trying to get a different job, but that the few interviews I'd gone to hadn't done anything for me. I don't think I screwed any of them up, just got the feeling that the people I interviewed with wanted to promote from within rather than give the fat, geeky guy a chance. (Yes, I am bitter. Why do you ask?) Still, I told her that I was trying, just nothing much was coming from all the applications I'd sent out.

She gave me a speech about how she supports upward mobility blah, blah, blah, and that I should keep trying.

Of course, I have been trying. In the past three months I've sent out over 50 applications. (I know because it takes two friggin' stamps to send an application and I've use up a roll of 100 and then some.) Most of them have been for the promotion, a couple for the same level. Last week was the first interview I had since March (February?). It was for my current level, but I need to keep in practice and it's for a place that will, eventually, be interviewing for that next level. I thought it would be good to get my face out there.

The interview went well. I made the panel laugh. I had a good story about teamwork. I took a half hour when they had penciled in 15 minutes and they didn't try to hurry me. I had a decent answer to the "best and worst" qualities question. I watched them fill up their papers with my answers. I was full of very specific questions about where the job will be. I felt good. (Of course, I've felt good about all the interviews I've had in the past year.)

Today, my supervisor came and told me that she was called for a reference check. Then she says, "I don't think we'll be able to get along without you."

A little later the second in command, a woman who I respect and admire, told me about the reference check and asked, "What will we do without you?"

After the staff meeting, where I take minutes, I told my boss not to worry about the room because I'd already been in contact with the people in charge and I'd taken care of it. She said, "I don't think we can let you go." Sure, she was smiling when she said it, but she said it. I was glad the call came in before the meeting.

While I was cleaning up my office a different supervisor, not in charge of me, but in charge of people I work with, told me that I can't leave. They need me.

The thing is, if offered, I probably won't take the job. I want, and finally believe that I deserve, a promotion. I know that I'm a problem because I don't understand the game. I don't know how to get my nose all brown. (I have a problem of answering the questions I'm asked honestly.) I don't want to move two hours away for no movement in my employment, start a lease, then get an interview and an offer from a step up that's in another town entirely. I can't afford two leases. If I could I wouldn't be looking for a step up.

Of course, this leads to the question of why stick with this whole system, right? Well, I've never been hired by a place that wasn't desperate for someone until this last move. My first job in college I got because two of their staff members quit during the first week of school. My next job was at a Starbucks that was opening and they only started interviewing people a month before the opening and we were understaffed when we opened. (I haven't had many jobs. I stay where I am for a while.) When I got hired by the state the office had been short five people and were eager to finally get staffed. When I moved to this department they were interviewing for three positions and, I found out later, only interviewed six people.

Plus, I'm vested in the pension program. Sure, I have more than thirty years until I retire and by then the more conservative elements may finally have their way and eliminate the pension because those of us in the state obviously people like me don't work, but I'm vested. Every year I get closer to a retirement that a person can actually live off of and medical benefits that won't punish me for going to the doctor as I age. These are the reasons I was willing to work for the state in the first place.

None of that matters, though. What matters is how my coworkers, people who have told me that I do good work, that I should be working at a higher level, are trying to make me feel guilty for wanting to move on while attempting to make it sound like a complement.

It, literally, makes me feel sick to my stomach. I felt fine until my boss ended our first conversation with  "I don't think we'll be able to get along without you."

And so I end my rant. I apologize, but I needed to get it out there. To ask if it's just me being a paranoid asshole or what. I just don't know anymore.


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