Sunday, June 19, 2016

What had happened was...Part 2

Okay, so where were we? Oh, I gave my notice at Design Associates, and as usual, the fallout was interesting.

I gave my notice to an associate partner who I felt had my back and understood the epic bullshittery around me, and as disappointed as he was, he really understood why I needed to leave. I asked the associate partner to let the others know, and that I'd thought long and hard about this and had made my final decision--there were to be no taking-Pixie-to-lunch-or-drinks to try to talk me out of it with more money or promotions or anything of the sort.

Which they apparently took to mean that no partner should talk to me at all. And none of them did for an entire week. Not even eye contact, folks. I was persona non grata.

After a week, Howie and Sven had to talk to me because I was spending my four-week notice helping my team finish CDs for a major addition and renovation project on a small hospital in east Colorado as well as working on a few small things for another client. Still, though, no social conversation, just business. And another week passed in which no partner or otherwise spoke to me or looked at me. (Except for Molly, who can't fucking talk to anyone without putting her hands on them. She came over and grabbed my shoulders like she was mock-choking me after reading of my resignation. If she puts a hand on me ever again, I'm going to rip it off and shove it up her ass. Just because I'm a small woman who ranks lower than you at your firm, that doesn't mean you can put your hands on me.)

News of my departure spread. Colleagues were surprised, though more often than not they high-fived me. Apparently, my departure came as quite a shock to those ranking above me, but those who actually do the work were surprised it took me so long. Those last few weeks were excruciating--I just wanted to run screaming from the building all day, but I had to stay put and finish those specs and redline those drawing sheets, because my team had been about 1 person down for the whole project (since October) and 2 people down for the past 4 months, and I wasn't going to fuck over my project team because of the grand mal stupidity of the people that supposedly run this dumpster fire they call a firm.

And over and over and over again, I witnessed and heard things that confirmed for me time and again: leaving is the right thing to do. You can't fix this place, Pixie. The people in charge don't want it. They say they want "change" and "innovation," but they don't mean it. "Change" means that they do more, faster, with fewer people. "Innovation" means free work out of already-underpaid employees under the guise of "empowerment." The partners get six-figure bonus checks every quarter, but they have the audacity to argue with the head of admin about hiring a temp at $13/hr to scan some files for them so they could eliminate the off-site storage needed for them. They pay college interns less than I made fresh out of college 15 years ago while charging every single latte and Snickers bar to a project's expenses, then have the audacity to complain about the "entitled Millennials." Moments like this make me wish I was a man so all of those sanctimonius dipshits could line up and suck my dick.

I left with no fanfare. Howie asked to throw a going away happy hour for me a few weeks afterwards, which of course I didn't want but knew if I didn't, then I'd be the asshole. I arrived at the pub in question to find that Howie hadn't made reservations for our rather sizable group and started acting all spazzed out that his overburdened admin assistant hadn't read his mind and made the reservation. I looked at Chloe, my longtime friend and colleague from St. Ermahgerd, and she just shook her head slowly. "Not gonna miss this shit show, are ya?" she asked while stifling a huge laugh as we watched Howie act spastically amazed that magic didn't happen and our group of 16 didn't have a party room just because he started waving his hands around. Dude, these aren't your employees--they don't give a fuck if you didn't plan ahead. Their job doesn't actually rely on bending over backwards for you and bumping two other planned parties because you don't know how to operate a phone and an Outlook calendar. Maybe you could use one of your big-ass bonuses to pay someone to care? Oh, never mind, Money. Never mind.

I took four months off.

Four. Months. Off.

Like Ron Livingston's character in Office Space, I did nothing, and it was everything I dreamed it would be. 

Guy and I went to South Carolina and Georgia for our birthday this year, which happened to be my 40th. We went to the golf course near Myrtle Beach where my uncle put two bullets in Dad's head and one in his own, and I spent a moment reveling in the peace and beauty of the patch of earth upon which my father last fell that now supported green, lush grass and turf. The sandy soil that drank blood spilled too wrong and too soon now cradled life: small insects bumbling their ways over and under the Brobdignagian blades of perfect green; small birds bouncing over the tee looking for those same insects and the occasional worm; and a squirrel hop-hop-hopping around a tree to search for pine cones with a few tasty seeds still left, only to find one of those humans with a wet face staring into the middle distance. Unlike most humans on this grassy place, this one looks distressed and makes noises like an abandoned squirrel kit. Humans are weird.

I also cleaned like a motherfucker, which those of y'all who know me know what perverse joy I get out of cleaning. I cleaned out my closet and drawers and my portfolio from 6 years of architecture school and my bathroom and my art supplies and books---SEVEN BOXES OF BOOKS TO THE LIBRARY, PEOPLE---and everything. Guy also did some cleaning out of his clothes and some of the crap stored on the back balcony, though it took him a little longer to really clean his crap up. Really, it took both of us some time to clean our crap up.

As I was finally finding peace in my work life, Guy's was falling apart. While I was about to start my almost-perfect-dream job at MegaARCH, Guy was miserable there. Hamstrung by the corporate processes and by his boss (who didn't seem entirely comfortable being in charge and pushing back on said corporate process), Guy was underemployed and found himself being passed over for professional training and advancement opportunities...and it got to him. Bad.  He began to doubt his own professional abilities and even his own general worthiness as a person. (I can name that tune in one note.) He agreed with his boss to cut his hours for three months to just what he needed to work to keep our healthcare, and then we both really got to work.

We didn't just clean the house. We cleaned our own houses, emotionally. We purged some bullshit and half-truths and fears and arguments, and it was good. We went a long way towards Fixing Our Shit. It left me in a good place to start my new job in January of 2016. While I didn't immediately have anything billable to do, I had time to settle in and learn how MegaARCH does stuff, how their software works, etc. I overall found a grown up firm run by grown-up people who hire other grown-up people to be your coworkers. What an utterly novel concept.

After a couple of months of working in the same office, Guy says while driving home, "Look, I really need to leave MegaARCH. They want and value specialists like you, not generalists like me. I've gone about as far as I can here, and I'm going crazy while I go nowhere."

"Fair enough," I replied. "I have my awesome job, now we need to get you an awesome job."

We drove through a few green lights silently.

Then Guy said, "What if I go back to Design Associates?"

I promise Part 3 will come sooner than six months later.



2 comments:

Mile High Pixie said...

Paul Mitchell--I'm a dumbass and accidentally deleted your comment. The short version is that things are overall good for both of us. I promise the story will also get funnier.

Paul Mitchell said...

Your funny has always been good.

Trust me, I do understand growing pains that you both have experienced.