Tuesday, May 20, 2014

End of My New "Career"

A random shot of of the high school gym floor.
Most likely this was an unintentional photograph.  My finger hit the screen again instead of hitting the home icon.  I usually delete all the random and blurry photos without thought.  Today, this one caught my eye this morning when I was looking for a picture for my post.  Something about the way the lights reflect on the wooden floor fascinates me.
The lights- fleeting and  delicate.
The wooden floor- Solid and unchanging.
The corner of the chair means I was there for an awards ceremony or meeting of some kind.
The edge of the school logo reminds me that the floor is meant for sports.

The gym floor at the high school has a set routine of beginnings, middles and endings.  Every August,  the parents of incoming freshman attend orientation for a new building with new and higher expectations of the students.    Throughout the year there will be sports practices and competitions, pep rallies, assemblies and dances.  Each season begins with a parents' meeting and ends with an awards program.  The year ends with the ultimate awards ceremony, graduation.

It is a very well defined schedule of beginnings and endings.

Several months ago when I looked at this picture, all I saw was a mistake.   I used it to illustrate a post about writer's block.  Then, I only saw the problems with the photo.  It wasn't planned and at that time I saw no value in it.  Now I find it a fascinating metaphor of life.

Life is not scheduled.  For our lives and many parts of it, we never know how long they will last.  In the past two years, my small community has experienced unexpected deaths.  I've written about them.  Elliott- a 10th grade student who was at school on a Tuesday and dead the next morning.  Most of us didn't realize how fragile his health had always been and that his short life was a gift.  Zenan, James and Lauren died when their apartment caught fire in the middle of the night.  A friend, a few years younger and seemingly much healthier than me, suffered a heart attack and died shortly after doing what she did best: motivating parents and students to sell mulch and support school athletics.

These ending were sudden and irreversible.  Each one impacted my life but Tammy's death continues to change the way I live my life.  The day she died I was offered a new job.  The first time in decades that I had an offer for a job where I could make more than $10,000 a year.  I was scheduled to start the day of her funeral.  I reported to work only to discover that I was not allowed to start because my background check hadn't been finished yet.  The owner claimed to have thought he told me he would call me when I should start and acted surprised that I was there.

I went to Tammy's funeral.  I spent the week thinking about life, death and my purpose.  I pondered working for a man who claimed to not remember telling me to start on a specific day.  I have no doubt he did.  I remember saying I hated to ask but I needed to leave early on the first day and take my son to his orthodontist appointment.  Selling insurance was not something I wanted to do but I wanted a job that paid a fair wage.

I almost didn't take the job.  I almost saw the delay as a sign that I should walk away.  Reality prevailed.  I could not refuse a job.  Two months later, all my hopes have been dashed and any respect I had for the owner is gone.  I learned much.  Earned a little money.  And ...lost more than ten pounds due to stress.

The first month was great.  The job was easy.  I had much to learn but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle.  I thought I could finally have found something I could do and make a fair amount of money doing.  I wasn't going to become rich but at least I could afford to take the boys to the movies occasionally.

Less than month later, everything changed.  A co-worker who happened to also be the owner's daughter changed her attitude towards me.  She became passive-aggressive and tried hard to undermine my confidence.  Not long after that her father's attitude changed also.  I continued to do my job and be as professional as possible.  At one point I tried to discuss it with him.  He turned everyone of my concerns back around to my faulty behavior.  Then he started talking about after I quit.  I said I felt pressured to quit.  He vehemently denied anyone trying to force me to quit.

A week later, his wife who had not been in the office until that day met with me to outline all my faults and convince me to quit.  I refused to quit.  She shredded my personality and behavior.  If they didn't like my work, they should have been telling me all along.  If I made mistakes, I needed to know immediately.  All the mistakes they claimed I made were bogus.

My first "mistake" was refusing to take the blame for errors his daughter made.  My second "mistake" was questioning whether certain activities were legal before I was licensed.  I probably would still be working if I hadn't expressed my concerns.

I was studying and learning about the laws and became uncomfortable making calls to customers before I was licensed.   I had expected him to respect my concerns and wishes to err on the side of caution.  I had expected him to respect the fact that I try to do everything according to the laws.  It was only a matter of a few weeks before I was going to be licensed.

I do not regret any of my actions.