Wanted: Blanket, Binky, Warm Milk

Once again, life has stepped up and slapped me in the face with the reminder that I am a full-blown adult now. 

I wish it would stop doing that. 

It’s mostly for a good reason. Yesterday, I got a text from Rick saying that a position had opened up where he works. It’s one that I had talked about with the woman in charge there, when I had applied for something else. I’ve already interviewed there twice, two and a half years ago, so some of these people know me. And for all they know, I come highly recommended, since the outgoing director recommended me for her own job, and Rick has recommended me as well (totally selflessly motivated, of course). 

“The thing is,” said the woman in charge, “the salary is right around the job you interviewed for in 2010.”

Which was, um… not fabulous.

I quoted it.

“Yyyeah,” was her response.

A beat.

“I mean… I might be able to squeeze it to about $2,500 higher, but that’s as high as I can go.”

Now, this is a job at a state university, so the funding is what it is. The state gives so much money for each position and that’s all there is to it. So there’s not a lot of room to push for more. Back in 2010, I was willing to see if I could make it work, but it would be tough. Now, it’ll be tougher. I have a mortgage, several completely unreasonable medical bills and constant fears that a Korean missile will hit my house and insurance will be all, “Oh, we don’t cover Korean missile damage.”

If she squeezes it to the highest possible number, it’s still more than $10,000 less than I make now. 

Oof.

I can write off $3,000 of that loss because I will no longer be driving 100 miles a day. I currently spend about $3,200 a year on gas. This would cut that back dramatically.

But still. Oof.

But it’s my ticket out of the sensory deprivation chamber known as the basement – the unheated basement – where I currently spend my mental energies and college degree in a business that’s flailing and increasingly run by bean counters who have no regard for little things like experience, judgment and people who have worked their asses off for, in my case, 15 years, only to be sentenced to an interminable life of working craptastic hours, holidays and (until last week) weekends. It’s a life of constant abuses, assumptions from bosses that I will have no problem filling in on the weekends I’ve just reclaimed for myself any time that any one of three different weekend employees want a day off… that they can change my schedule on a whim without telling me, like I work at McDonalds. This job opportunity might be a lot less money, but it’s a normal schedule, holidays off, and it gives me a chance to get my life back. 

I learned, by the way, when I took the job I’m currently in, that it is a mistake to give up the things in your life that make you happy just so you can get paid more. It takes the joy out of your life, and, in my case, then you get smacked really hard, take a 23% pay cut and get stuck working nights and weekends, so you wind up making no more than you did when you left your old job and now you’ve had to give up even more of your life.

But I keep getting stuck on the number. I haven’t gotten paid the salary in question since 2006 or 7. And I made it work then, sure. I took vacations and paid my rent and made my car payments (which I no longer have). I mean, it’s possible. It just seems backward. If I took this job (which, mind you, has not actually been offered), I would be making a full $28,000 less than when I took my current job in 2008, before the smackdown. That’s tough to swallow. 

But they’re just numbers. I already took the biggest hit. 

The other thing this job opportunity would do is give me a start at a new career, which I’ve wanted ever since I got smacked as I described above, and possibly even longer. As the woman in charge pointed out, it positions me for growth, promotions, etc. And really, I could do it for a year or two and then pursue other, more lucrative opportunities if need be. 

These are all the things that two of my coworkers told me when I obsessed to them about it last night. Almost everyone I work with is of the same mind, really. Get out. For God’s sake, get out of here. Send postcards. 

In the midst of all this adultness, I got a reminder that I am in some ways still a horrid teenager. Rick sent me a picture taken in New Orleans, in which his inebriated self is wearing neon green glasses and purple beads, making a face I don’t recognize and throwing arms around two girls. It hit me then that he actually met up with other people down there. I thought it was just him and his brother. Turns out these girls were friends of his. So then I had a fit of completely irrational jealousy and fear while freaking out about adult things.

So… 16 going on 40. Awesome feeling.

My interview is in two weeks. My meeting with my investment broker is in one week, to help figure out whether it’s feasible.

So, let’s review:
Mortgage
Medical bills
Investment broker
Existential questions vis-a-vis professional pursuits
Korean missile fears

Yup. I’m an adult. At least when you’re a kid people tell you what to do for your own good. Closest I can get to that is the investment guy going, “Contribute 10% to your 401(k).” Which I already do. 

I want my daddy.

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26 thoughts on “Wanted: Blanket, Binky, Warm Milk

  1. I can so relate. It’s hard playing at being grown-up. Which is all I will ever do, despite child, mortgage, divorce, etc. At my first layoff in 1999, I was making around $90K. Unbelieveable to me. I took a year off. When I started back to work, I was hourly, and doing something I loved while I tried to figure other stuff out. In 2001, I got another real job, that I liked, which paid around $60K, then got laid off right after the beginning of 2002. After piecing together part time jobs for almost two years, I went back to that company – same position, same salary. I got laid off again in 2009. I’ve been in my current role, a job I like, since 2010. I am only making a little more than I was making in 2001. And I have to keep a second job to keep eveyrthing paid – everything being mortgage, child support, and other bills. I’m not rich – I’m saving a little – things still get tight at times – I can still figure out a way to travel – I’m happy. I have less of my life because of an hour commute each way, but I get to read more (the bus). I don’t have much opportunity here, but I have good co-workers and I get to write all day. Money isn’t everything. Go for it. Our lives adjust to the money we have available. Read that last sentence again – it’s true. Take the leap and you’ll be happier.

    • I think I would be happier, Sea. And you’re right – we do adjust. We do what we have to do. You have had more “living” than I have, and I am always grateful that at least I don’t have a family to support. But you’ve mentioned the word I might fear most when it comes to professional life: layoff. Right now, after scratching and clawing, and a lot of fears that I would lose my job, I have job security where I am. Of course, you’ve also shown that you can survive a layoff or two!

      • After the number of layoffs I’ve experienced, I no longer believe in job security. Even in my current job, when we were acquired last March, people in my same position, who had more seniority, were laid off, and I wasn’t. It”s an illusion we use to comfort ourselves. No matter what our bosses say, if it comes down to it, they will let you go, regardless of anything. Geez, I sound cynical. I’m not. I just know now that change is the only certainty.

  2. Oh, and so much of this has happened after I lost my parents. Can’t tell you how many times I wished they were there to advise me, hug me, and catch me if I totally screwed up. But that part just is what it is. I’m stronger because of not having them, and I know they’re proud of me.

    • I’m sure you’re right. My parents are still with us, as you know, and I will probably talk with my dad about this. He will have good perspective; he lost his job after 28 years and took a huge cut to get another job, while putting two daughters through college and paying for another daughter’s wedding. Now he’s retired after getting back on top, but it took a lot of sacrifices.

  3. Don’t angst until your financial guy does the numbers. Think how much neurosis you’ll waste if he says don’t do it. Hopefully he will say yes, though, because it doesn’t sound like your current job makes you happy at all. Maybe it’s more money, but is it worth it? Rick likes you. Be grateful he sent you pictures of himself with friends. If they were more than friends he’d never have sent you photos.

    • “Don’t angst.” What does this mean?
      And I think you’re right about Rick and the picture. Even though Neurotic Me says, “Well what other pictures are there that he’s not showing you? What happened that didn’t get photographed? What if this is a test to see how I’ll react?” (Fortunately I did tell myself that I’m not his girlfriend, we are only dating, and these girls in the picture live in Denver. And, as you said – he wouldn’t have sent me the pic if it meant anything.)

      • Angst is anxiety. So I was saying that you shouldn’t drive yourself crazy yet. Or ever, actually.

      • HaHa! Ok. I was just sending you another reply about Rick. The neurotic me doesn’t agree with your first 2 concerns but would allow myself to go to the “it could be a test” place. But then the normal me slapped the neurotic me and warned me I could ruin everything if I wasn’t careful. So I think you should indulge in a slice of your favourite cake or pie and think happy thoughts.

  4. Your gut never lies. Get very quiet, Give it over to the universe and ask for that strong feeling one way or another. Never fails for me. Good luck and I hope your situation does improve!

  5. Somethings you just can’t put a price on. I have told myself soooo many times after deciding to get a divorce 4 years ago. Remember, every job is a stepping stone to the next. You can do it!

  6. That’s scary – just losing the 100 miles of driving would be a huge motivator for me, though.

    I’m really wanting a career change right now – A LOT – so I’m probably biased, but all I can think is do it! Do it!

    • Yeah, it’s terrifying. It’s also one of those things where the ghosts of your grandfathers come back and say, “You have a job. You get paid. No one owes you anything.” I’m ready for the career change. It’s JUST the money that’s in the way right now.

      Until I freak out about whether I could actually do the job.

  7. I hate being an adult as well – even though I should definitely be used to it at my age. I want to change jobs so badly – and was offered one last week that would pay about 1/3 of what I was making just 3 short years ago. (Currently our salaries combined are about 1/2 of what I earned (alone) before our move to Florida, but it has been okay – we planned and adjusted). But I can’t pull the trigger on this latest one, either – We could probably squeak by – but at my age I don’t have time to climb the ladder one more time.

    Do it.

    • That’s a big motivator for me, too, K8… knowing that I’m still young enough to start over and build something promising. I wouldn’t want to wait too much longer. Sigh… don’t you wish we could just be happy, financially secure and in no danger of losing our jobs? Is that so much to ask?

  8. I have been incredibly fortunate. I’ve never had a job I hated for more than a few hours and most of the time I liked it. For most of my life I’ve bee financially secure. When the economy downturned a while back and my business went away, I was really scared but so far so good. So, I’m totally unqualified to suggest except to say if there’s any way you can get out of the place you work, DO IT, You deserve to be happy at work or at least not unhappy.

    • You know, it’s funny: I am often aware of the things that make me unhappy at work. I am also aware that I love almost all of the people I work with, and I’m fortunate in that way. When I think about the future, that’s when I’m sold on the change. To keep doing this, in this business, would be soul-killing. Even though there would be good days, I have lost the love I used to have for what I do. I fear I might never love anything more than I used to love this, but I don’t think I can chance a couple more decades.

  9. Quality. Of. Life.

    Also? I’m going to bet that the university’s benefits end up closing that $7,500 gap in ways you haven’t calculated. Have you compared the schedule, paid time off, healthcare costs, access to discounted education? I’m just saying… my sister works for a university and even though I probably make three times as much as she does, I think if you were to look at pay on an hourly basis, she’d be beating me hands-down. If you like the role and can swing your budget on the new income – I say go for it!

    • Oh, believe me, they totally would. It’s really a matter of making ends meet. And if I can swing that, for a year or two, well… it would probably be worth making the move. That’s where buying the house might actually really help; I’ll reap the biggest benefits of the tax write-off in while I’m building the new career. Oh, but first they have to offer me the job.

  10. Honestly? I’m with you on those Korean missile fears.
    I really have no grounds to give advice or comment on anything else here. But you do deserve to be happy. The commenter who said they didn’t stay at a job they hated for very long? I can relate. After all, it’s your life, your moments that you’re giving up. You’re exchanging your time for money, work – and hopefully fulfillment. Sometimes it’s worth the risk to find that enjoyment. 🙂

    • Right? Kim Jong Un is cray! But I agree with you about the risk vs. reward argument. I think the baby boomer generation (my parents) focused on financials. My generation (not quite X) thinks more about happiness. For better or for worse.

      • Agreed. My parents and I are in a similar situation. Interesting how that works. Good luck in your decision-making. 🙂
        And yes. He’s totally cray-cray.

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