So Many Transitions

Whew. I got through my last day at this job pretty easily, because there was a workshop all morning that was sort of fun, other than a couple of people scowling at me for showing up. But, they couldn’t stop me!

Generic desk, devoid of Suna.

Two colleagues showed up at lunch, and we had a nice lunch in the courtyard, which is the part of the building I’ll miss the most. They then helped me load my car. My poor desk looked so empty.

It was good to see that Trevor is a real person.

At least I got to meet Trevor, the newest person on our team. He was nice in person, just like on Zoom.

t looks so fancy. I gave Anita those nice flowers for her birthday.

Then I went back to the Bobcat Lair, which doesn’t look at all like my house anymore. It should appeal to all bland people! I put a bunch of stuff in Lee’s car, so there is room in the garage for my son’s stuff to hide when they are taking pictures and showing the house.

The rug has been hiding since I got Carlton and he tried to tear it up. Nice rug.

I also did a lot of sitting and looking out the windows, because it’s so darn pretty.

This is our guest room, or would have been if it hadn’t been crammed with plants and boxes. It had a beautiful view.

Carol, our long-time friend and real estate agent, is working hard to get the house ready, and we sure do appreciate that. Things are just so crazy for me that I can’t stick around here to be of much help. But, I did a little, anyway.

Some of my wonderful book club neighbors.

Last night we had book club in the neighborhood, and they all seemed glad that Anita and I plan to continue to attend, even when we no longer live in Austin. I told Anita she could share my hotel room. I’d even give her a ride. (Sorry I didn’t get good photos of everyone; I love them all.)

Very sad friends.

My friends were SO sad about the house going on the market. But we had a great time. Friends make even hard transitions a little easier.

A Surprise from Suna

Folks, it’s been a very long and very hard week for your resident blogger, but the good news is that Suna is here, has met her challenges and come out on the other side with her pride and self esteem intact. That’s really, really good news.

Like good ole Dusty here, I’ve been dealing with a load of poop, and it’s left me a bit disheveled.

I can generically shared that I got some quite unexpected and upsetting feedback at my job last week. You know me and my lifelong battle with self esteem…I was a bit of a mess there for a day or two. But, all this growth stuff I keep talking about kicked in MUCH quicker than it would have in the past. And life and the Universe already had an option ready for me when I needed it most!

A mere fifteen minutes after the unpleasantness, I had an interview for a job that I’d decided I just HAD to do, because it looked so interesting. After talking to the recruiter it became clear that there literally was no one else on the face of the earth more qualified for the job than me. It was like, “Here is the description of the part of your job you’ve enjoyed the most, but that no longer is a priority, so you’re not doing it now.”

I had a perfectly reasonable week at work this week, because I actually DO like my current coworkers and the project I’m working on. But, after interviewing with the cool and interesting people at the other job, it clearly was a better fit for my skills and my current stage of life. Oh yes, don’t forget that much better pay rate. So, I said yes and gave my two weeks’ notice where I am now.

Oh yeah, the pool is ready for the next stage. It even got inspected.

I assure you, this was not how I’d wanted to wind down my career, but I think I’ll learn a lot, have fun, get to know some new people, and not lose the real friends I made at the current place. I think everyone will be happy with this. I’m really proud to have managed this transition as smoothly as I have. Things sure can work out, at least sometimes!

My readers, family, and friends: your support and kindness has really helped, even if you didn’t know it. It’s nice to know there are folks who appreciate you!

A Digression on Working in Austin

Resumes are on my mind, since I looked at dozens yesterday. Today, I need to digress from posting about nature and my endless “deep thoughts” to share some observations I’ve had about people in my field (broadly, technical writing and instructional design).

My notebook full of resumes for job interviews.

There’s a job opening on my team where I work in Austin. It’s a rare opportunity in these times when downsizing is the norm. I’m lucky that I work for a company that values its written documentation and resources for customers, since training and technical writing are often among the first folks to be let go when pennies get pinched. So, hooray, it was my turn to bring my instructional design team back up to the level it used to be.

So, I looked at resumes. It was humbling to see how many people with amazing skills and experiences applied (if you’ve hired people lately, I bet you’ve seen the same thing). There were two types, people who have only been in the workforce a few years, then people whose resumes strangely resembled mine.

The pattern is that people have a career at a large corporation that lasts a decade or so, then there is a new contract job every year or so after that. I have so much respect for the people who keep working to find contract work, year after year, because it seemed to me like as soon as you started on job, you had to start looking for the next.

You have got to respect contractors for dealing with these challenges and still getting lots of good work done, with a good attitude.

And here is my rant

Did you notice that everyone was just dandy that government workers got back pay after the recent shutdown? Did you realize that there were actually MORE contract workers who didn’t get to work, and most of them did NOT get back pay.

Yes, more and more companies turn to contractors to do their work, because it’s easier to ramp up and back down as needed. Also, you don’t have to pay contractors benefits. Ka-ching. A poll taken last year showed 1 in 5 workers were contractors.

Here are the actual statistics from a Marist polllast year, reported by NPR.

What does that mean? It means millions of people who don’t get paid sick days, vacation, or most important, health insurance. A lot of these people end up just one illness away from disaster. It does not pay to be a sickly contractor.

When I did my years of contracting (2007-2011), there were at least a few companies that offered health insurance that I could afford, so I didn’t worry about it, but now that’s just about impossible to find. And even though some of the companies you contract throug do offer health insurance, for more than one of my friends it’s turned out to be over half of their earnings.

And don’t get me started on taxes. I’ve heard people go on and on about how highly paid contract workers are. Well, that’s because they have to pay self employment tax on their earnings. They have to save a third of their income to hand over to the IRS.

Thanks, Dell, for introducing me to my husband of ten years! A contractor benefit.

The other thing that can drag you down as a contractor is that feeling like you just don’t belong, like you are an unwelcome guest. You sit at the tiniest desk in the building (I even had to use my own computer at one job). When there’s a free lunch, you don’t get it. You don’t get to go to the corporate gym. When there’s a team-building event, you sit at your desk, typing away. Don’t get me wrong, I have made great friends and had wonderful bosses when I was a contractor. I even married one, so it’s not all bad!

All of this can take its toll on you mentally and physically. I had tics in my eye, a tingling neck, and stomach issues. A woman who suffered from a pinched nerve from contracting stress said:

“As a contractor, the expectations of you are much higher than if you were an employee,” she says. “They’re moving so quickly and they have so little consideration or awareness for you that they sometimes forget that you’re actually human.”

https://www.npr.org/2018/01/23/579720874/will-work-for-no-benefits-the-challenges-of-being-in-the-new-contract-workforce

So, think about the contract workers who you know, who you work with, or who you once were yourself. They work hard, have to ramp up fast, and often don’t get to see their projects through to completion. I will be happy if the best person for the position we’re hiring for turns out to be one of the people who’ve been contracting a long time. They tend to be versatile, have a variety of experiences, and very grateful for a full-time job with benefits.

I’m grateful to the team who brought me on where I work now. I will be happy to pay it forward.