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Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

What Will Be, Will Be

I have been thinking about my upcoming discussion with my boss when we implement Work From Home (WFH).  It is coming.  A senior leader needed my help formatting a document that outlines the guidelines. I couldn’t read much of it, only the title.  I also overheard him talking to another senior leader about out of our top 30 competitors, we are the only one not WFH.  Damn.

My problem is that my boss, being the loyal lieutenant, isn’t a fan of WFH.  I have to figure out how to discuss this with her when the time comes.  She treats the situation like it is on hourly accountability.  I am an exempt employee, so I am not too much into the “tit for tat”.  She is from the world of billable hours, so she is.  I was hired for my expertise, not so much hired to be a butt in a chair, although I do that to make her happy.  She hasn’t managed someone of my level before.  She typically deals with admins and the like (no slight to them, it is just that they tend to be more task-oriented which is not my situation).

Plus I have to consider that it will come to light that I really don’t have enough work to fill a 40 hour week.  I had mentioned it to her before, early on, but she didn’t come up with more responsibilities.  After two mentions, I shut up.  Why shine a spotlight on it?

I need to prep for this conversation and I am not too sure how I want it to go.  Plus we are headed towards massive national unemployment, so this prepping could be for nothing. Since I am overhead, I could easily go early.

The result I want is employment.  I could compromise and reduce my week (and salary) to 32 hours.  For the interim, perhaps I could use PTO to make up the missing 8 hours.  I would like to keep my full salary, but I think everyone needs to make sacrifices.

If they decide to fire me, perhaps I could make some $$ with them as their consultant.  I have to be flexible.  Nerves are frayed, so who knows what will happen.  During the Recession, they managed to navigate it without laying anyone off.  They reduced hours, but the company was smaller then.  The CEO does know how to navigate tough times, however, these are times no one has ever endured.  He is freaking the fuck out.  The weight of the company and everyone’s livelihoods rests on his shoulders.  I do not envy him one bit.

Today I have a zen acceptance that what will happen, will happen.  Work will end up as it should.  My credit card balances are zero except for one.  I do not owe the tax man a penny.  My only debt is that one credit card balance of $1,500 and my car payment. Financially I will be fine.  Not great, but I will be OK.

What I really want more than anything is for my family to come out of this intact and healthy.  Say a prayer for Taz who is on the frontlines of Brooklyn.  I think about her all the time.  She is so brave, so calm, so reassuring when we talk.  Her stress reliever is to order groceries and watch stupid shows like “Love is Blind”.  Then she gets up and heads back to patch people up.  I am so incredibly proud of her.  What a remarkable woman.  I am so blessed and lucky.  What will happen, will happen.  Karma is in control, not me. I have to remember that and stay positive.

My wishes for your continued health and safety.  My prayers for any of you with sick family and friends.  My love for all of you — love and kindness are what will pull us through.

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Photo by Joel Henry on Unsplash

COVID Update

Time for another COVID-19 post, so if you aren’t up for it, please enjoy these funny cat videos.

Taz is working in Ground Zero — Brooklyn.  She was at the hospital yesterday for 24 hours straight trying to save a person injured in a horrific car accident.  We FaceTimed today and she looks exhausted, but her spirits are good.  The person survived but faces additional surgeries later this week.  How that patient will avoid COVID is anyone’s guess.

Taz has several other residents that are either pregnant or have a pregnant wife.  One doctor is 8 months pregnant.  The head of the program put her on early maternity leave.  Thank goodness, but it leaves them short-handed and these pregnant wives exposed.  Taz is a Chief Resident for her specialty.  She was awarded this high honor right as the virus was entering the US. Lucky her.  She has always had impeccable timing for this type of thing.

I feel so helpless.  I sent them a large carton of Florida citrus from my favorite citrus farm.  I also sent some to my Dad & stepmom plus my son.  Nothing like a Vitamin C boost, I hope.  I told Taz that I will send her some funny memes, videos, pictures, etc. via text message so she has something silly to look at when she needs a break.  She loved that idea.

This corona virus is nasty.  Her hospital is about to be overwhelmed by it and they are converting OR’s into ICU’s because the OR’s have ventilators.  Another hospital is already at that point.  The tsunami is upon them.

A cousin of mine had a friend die in New York of COVID.  He was a middle-aged father.

I am not going to talk about politics in this time of crisis.  I have a lot of thoughts and opinions, but they aren’t going to help the situation, so I will keep them out of my blog.  However, I did find a good explanation of social distancing.  Dr. Emily Landon is a University of Chicago epidemiologist and as the Illinois governor was decreeing their shelter in place order, she spoke about it.  The whole social distancing is so hard for some people to understand, but I think Dr. Landon said it best.   She said that if we do this social distancing and shelter in place correctly it will feel like an overreaction.  That means it is working.  She said that you may feel silly sitting on the sofa watching Netflix, but by doing so you are preventing the spread of this horrible virus.  If you haven’t watched her speech, it is well worth the listen and please share it with any idiot who thinks that this doesn’t apply to them.

I am finding that each day for the past 3-4 days I tear up and cry for about 5 minutes or less.  I now just go ahead and have my cry so I can put it behind me and soldier on.  I am going to have to draw my line in the sand soon at work and start working from home.  I just don’t understand why we can’t work from home.  I think the CEO 1) is terrified the company will go under and 2) vastly under-estimates his professionals.  I think #2 is his Achilles Heel.

We received two emails over the weekend from Senior Leadership.  One is the CEO telling us that they are monitoring it and doing what the CDC and WHO recommends.  He wants us to make our health and safety a priority.  He also added that the mandatory stay-at-home orders thus far to not apply to our line of work and “maintain performance” (preferably in the office).  Sigh.

The other email was a flow chart that shows what to do under four scenarios – the first two are if you have direct contact or you have symptoms, then stay home.  The other two make me shudder.  If you think you visited a location of a positive case but had no contact, still come to work.  If you visited the location of a suspected case, still show up to work. That is where they lost me.  I think I need to send the leadership team Dr. Landon’s video.  They don’t get it.

I may have to make a very hard decision this week.  I think I am going to have to draw my line in the sand and start working from home.  I was trying to let more senior people fight the fight, but with 1,000 cases in South Florida (and add a multiplier of 5x to 10x for a truer count), I can’t risk my health on someone else’s bad decisions.

On a funny note, I did my Walmart groceries through their pick-up app.  Did I get my chocolate — no.  Did I get tons of coffee like a hoarder, yes (I picked a couple of brands just in case and got them all).  I will be well caffeinated in the coming weeks.  I didn’t get any of the meats I wanted, but I got all of my fresh veggies.  I will be eating a healthy mainly vegetarian diet this week whether I wanted to or not. LOL.

Stay healthy, my Dear Readers.  Keep your social distance and remember that if you think you are over-reacting, you are doing exactly the right thing.

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Enjoy Spring – Photo by Joel Holland on Unsplash

No Escape

This post is about anxiety over COVID.  If that is a trigger for you these days, please do not continue reading.  Instead watch Emily Blunt be amazed by a kid magician.  My heartfelt wishes for your continued health.


 

My job right now involves monitoring COVID-19 all day every day.  I follow the news, watch press conferences and provide information to senior leadership.  I suggest cost-cutting ideas for both immediate spending reductions and long-term.

I discover things relating to business continuity where I can help to streamline things.  I gather information all day.  I talk to people outside the company about their plans and how it will affect our company.

All of this occurs at my work because we are not telecommuting at this time.  The CEO isn’t a fan of it.  He hasn’t seen the need yet, so we continue to show up.  At least anyone who sits where he passes by.  It is very stressful.

Some days are good and some days aren’t.  Yesterday, St. Paddy’s, was a good day.  I put on an elegant green dress and heels from my former professional days to sashay around a business casual environment.  I was one of the few wearing green.  Today I teared up when I was minutes away from the office.  It’s from stress and fear.  I calmed myself down, reminded myself to be strong, dried my tears and marched into the half deserted office.  My young millennial colleague who lives in my apartment building is already working from home.  The CEO never sees his division.

After work, I went for my training run along a beautiful area beside the water.  The breeze was lovely, the view stunning and it lifted my spirits.  I had been thinking about blowing off my exercise, however, I reminded myself that it is critical for my health (physical and mental).  I am so thankful I did it.

Senior leadership doesn’t have a clear path to navigate through this crisis.  It is tough.  Even though the company is on sound financial footing, there is only so long any company can survive if income is not generated. Senior leadership is fracturing over differing opinions on the company’s course.  Lists of who will be laid off are quietly being made “just in case.”

I am 100% overhead which could easily make me expendable.  I am working hard to be a resource, but that will only last so long.  I can survive if they reduce my hours and salary, but not forever.  I calculate I could do half salary for just over a year if absolutely necessary.  I have run the numbers for a barebones budget, calculated my savings and have a plan for hunkering down.

COVID-19 is not an overnight problem.  We are facing months of chaos and hardship.  Folks in South Florida tend to panic.  Thank goodness I am out of Miami — I can’t even imagine the panic down there.

I don’t see a bright future right now and I am the poster child of optimism.  Every day I dread heading to the office, but I realize that it is one more day of full pay.  One more day of not using my PTO.  One more day to interact with my colleagues who remain.  One more day to try to make a difference.  One more day immersed in the COVID drama.

When I come home, I am exhausted and seeking pure escapism.  I have no concentration to read, so I try to find light, heartwarming movies.  Instant Family with Mark Wahlberg was awesome.  Sometimes I am exhausted and just head straight to bed after dinner.

I am very fortunate.  I have a job.  I work for and with good, kind people.  I am not on the front lines of a hospital.  My stress is nothing compared to theirs.  My daughter is right in NYC.  She is a surgeon.  She knows she will be getting COVID-19 at some point and she will give it to her husband.  She has suggested that he leave the city, but he won’t leave her.  He’s scared.  She’s fatalistic.  I’m scared too because there is no escape.  We are on the rollercoaster and there is no way to get off. I fucking hate roller coasters.

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Photo by Rodolfo Marques on Unsplash

 

Sh#@t is Hitting the Fan

Naw, I am not going to write about Covid-19. We are all crazed enough. Instead, I will entertain you with some work drama to lighten your day. I have been sitting on the sidelines watching the drama unfold. Mesmerizing. I love workplace sociology and this Passion Play has been chock full of players who play, play, play.

Now do I have your interest? OK, here we go. My boss calls me. “What’s up with this project?”

I reply, “I’m not sure, but perhaps it is related to the XYZ project from last year.” She nods and subject drops. Several hours later she calls me into her office.

“Are you aware of this upcoming mid 5-figure expenditure? Is it in your budget?” Nope and nope. I am actually flabbergasted because I have no room in my budget for that and we don’t even need it. “Did Missy tell you about this? She is the one behind this.” Nope again. “Her boss approved it.” Her boss far outranks me and is maybe one rung higher on the corporate ladder from my boss. Missy and her boss are both located in another office several states away.

Yep, Missy was secretly working on a big project and hid it from HQ. Her boss was approving check requests, so Accounting was paying the vendors without checking in with me. I don’t fault Accounting on this. We are a rapidly growing company and establishing checks and balances is part of my new role.

My boss calls Missy, who promptly threw our admin under the bus. My boss, with Missy still on the phone, sends me to fetch the admin. Remember, this is my passive-aggressive admin who has a love/hate with me. Lately she loves me much more. As we walk to the boss’ office, I whisper, “Missy is throwing you under the bus, be ready.” However, my admin pointed out that Missy failed to submit an approval form that would have landed in my admin’s InBox, so we are all in the clear.

Missy’s whole defense crumples. It ain’t good. But it gets worse for her. My boss wants all paperwork which reveals the full extent of her planning. She had been working on this project for almost 6 months. It revealed those who aided her — several thought we knew about this. It is a complete clusterf#&k. It is a lot of money we don’t need to be spending.

At first, my boss was going to wait and talk to Missy’s boss face-to-face. She thought perhaps he was unaware of Missy’s secrecy. But then the next round of high drama begins.

My boss is the CEO’s most trusted lieutenant. They are in a Crisis Management meeting. I am guessing cash flow was a topic because she mentioned this pending expenditure. Fireworks. The CEO lost his sh#@t and this is a quiet, soft-spoken man. He is one of those people who exudes his power through his quiet ways, however, this piece of news caused him to slam the table.

The two of them end up on the phone with Missy’s boss and his boss (who also had no knowledge of this secret project). Major part of the drama? Her boss had no budget for this. The money has to come from my budget and it’s not there. The CEO declared I am the expert and guardian of this budget. Wow. He knows who I am! What do you think Missy’s boss did? Yep, tossed Missy right under the double-decker bus.

Today has been the aftermath of the storm. Missy is faced with picking up the pieces, but she is petulant and slow. She has not once admitted she was wrong. She did apologize to our admin, who now has a vendetta against her. She told my boss she had no idea this project would have fallen under my domain or budget. Two of her co-conspirators have been severely reprimanded by their HQ boss.

Oh boy, Missy f#@ked with the wrong women. Between my boss and admin, she is toast. Unfortunately for her, the more she opens her mouth, the farther her foot becomes wedged. She called me to ask how to handle a reply to my boss’ email for more information. She was cool as a cucumber and had nothing to say outside of her inquiry. She still screwed up her response.

I tried a little experiment with a minor co-conspirator today. I thought I had a great rapport with her. I have been flitting around doing a few behind-the-scenes projects for that office that don’t include the local folks, but occasionally I need the admin’s help. About two weeks ago, I had emailed her and her team leaders about a little process I needed them to follow. Very minor, but it could save the company several thousand dollars a year. Crickets. Today, I sent a follow up to all three to see how they would respond. Team leaders say nothing and she responds saying they aren’t even using the equipment. Interesting. Everybody and I mean everybody uses this equipment so my process is key.

What does this tell me? They obviously are Team Missy and they have no idea that is the losing team. They have no idea that I far outrank Missy and that I am responsible for all these projects – including this cancelled one. I’m going to have a fun phone call tomorrow because now my boss wants a full explanation on why they have not followed my process. And it will not end there. I had previously suggested another project for that location that could save our company tens of thousands of dollars. It might go forward now because of all this drama.

I just have to rein back my inclination to go in for the kill. I still have some nasty predatory instincts at times. When my boss, admin and I were discussing where we could find the money for the now-defunded project, I snakily said, “We could always use Missy’s salary”. That wasn’t nice…but my girls cackled….

Mean Girl?

I have the opportunity to be really mean.  As in cutting, dismissive and outright nasty.  Should I take it?  The fact that I am writing about this and hesitating to seize the opportunity perhaps gives me my answer. I asked myself my favorite question, “What result do I want from this?” The answer is somewhere along the lines of revenge and Karma having her day.  Nothing positive.  Nothing good.  Just me being petty and nasty. Plus I probably won’t even get to be confrontational and nasty to the evil person himself, perhaps just his partner, who use to have a kind soul.

The kinder one reached out to me via LinkedIn messaging.  He congratulated me on my new role (9 months old now, so to me this is old news).  He tied my employer to his through various projects the two companies have done together.  Good sales technique, however, I have been fully aware of the connections for quite some time.  He has no role in these partnership decisions.  He mentioned a year-old acquisition (again, old news). Now he wants a phone call.  I agreed and said send me an invite, that was yesterday so he is about to lose the two windows I provided just because I want him to feel the scheduling angst.  A girl can’t be too available. As I wait, I think about him and his partner.

I first met this kinder guy when he was just out of college and trying to launch.  Nice, personable, always asking about my kids and letting me chatter on about them.  He worked really hard and grew his career, however, I began hearing things from colleagues about his lack of ethics.  Not good things.  Then he joined forces with his partner, a man I absolutely despise.  

The partner is so sleazy.  He slept with my rookie.  I had told her never to date colleagues, but she succumbed to his insistent pursuit.  Once he had her, he dumped her.  I could have told her that, but I’m not her mom.  He would then ask about her whenever he saw me.  I swear to you it was merely so he could remind me he fucked her.  If you saw his smarmy smile when he asked, you would agree.

The partner and I were on a call one day and he didn’t like the news I was delivering, so he proceeded to verbally abuse me.  Called me second-rate, compared me to an absolutely horrible person and was absolutely awful.  I hung up on him.  Nobody likes him.  He has no integrity.  He’s a sleaze.

Now they want business from my company.  Really?  I have a mile long list of other options and they were never even a consideration.  Yes, they work for a prestigious company.  One I worked at for a decade before getting canned.  They throw the company’s prestige around, but sometimes you don’t need an elephant to do the job, a mule is just fine or even a donkey.

What will I do when he calls?  I don’t know.  I will say no thank you, we are happy with our current provider.  I will listen, but I will not be swayed.  I will do the call so I can say no verbally and not through some LinkedIn messaging.  I will be the better person.  Sigh.  Yes, I will not allow the bitter, angry thoughts to manifest themselves.  Nothing good will come of that.  Instead, I will write and release it all here.  Damn, being the better person sometimes isn’t much fun, but I know I will sleep much better and score some points with Karma.  I can always use the bonus points.

I Found My Rhythm

Life is settling into a pleasant routine these days. I hit the gym in the morning and my running program hasn’t killed me yet. I rarely eat out, so my food choices are always planned and under control for the most part. Work got busy with an unexpected project that has an impossible deadline. I am not stressed or worried – I am enjoying the challenge.

MeetUp in this area is actually pretty good. One last week was a fiasco, but another was lovely. I have several more coming up, so I feel like my social life is kicking off nicely. I am bumping into people who are very familiar with my company, which is a reminder that I am living in a small town, so my words matter.

Life is good. I wish I was losing weight faster because I was in the bottom third of the weight loss challenge. But then I remind myself that it doesn’t really matter because I am losing weight each week. I just need to be patient. Plus I am getting stronger and I really feel that progress. I had a physical and bloodwork done. My cholesterol is a bit high (some of it, the good ones are fine). I think it is related to my weight because I am not eating processed foods. Glucose is fine, sodium fine, etc., so I just need to once again be patient and allow my body to heal.

The Hunter has been really busy with work, so I haven’t seen much of him. It’s been OK because I have enjoyed having time to myself lately. I have been slowly working on going through all the damn photos. Right now I am sorting with some tossing. Good grief, there is a lot. Plus I found a shoebox of videos. I bought a used VCR for $9 at Goodwill so I can see if any are worth converting to digital. I need an adapter, so I can’t watch them yet.

What has been interesting about the photos is the flood of memories as I sort them. I intentionally avoided this project for years for just that reason – I simply didn’t have the emotional capacity to process all of it. Now I do, but in stages. It has been enjoyable for the most part, but it’s a messy project with lots of shoeboxes filled with loose photos. Ugh.

Life is good and I am grateful.

Adulting

I was thinking about a Bucket List of places to see before I can no longer get up and go.  Before I jump into that fun list of places, I need to focus on saving for retirement.

I have a decent low 6-figure 401k balance, but I need to double it (or more) to feel secure.  I don’t want to rely on my kids.  This plays into my bucket list travel plans.  It falls down to three questions:

  1. Will I be able (or want) to stay at this job for roughly a decade?
  2. How much do I need to sock away to hit my retirement savings goal?
  3. Will that leave me enough to live nicely today and still save for some big trips?

Answer to all of the above questions:  I don’t know.  That’s the short answer  However, nobody knows much of anything.  The retirement calculators are a pile of crap for the most part.  Actually, let’s have a bitch session about retirement calculators.  Here’s what happened:

Step 1:  I wanted to see what would be my Social Security benefit.  I went up on Fidelity’s Social Security calculator and than the actual Social Security website.  Both were within a 10% range of each other.  OK, cool.

Step 2:  I went to Fidelity’s and then my 401k provider’s retirement calculators.  Both sites estimated my Social Security benefit being HALF of what the previous calculators provided.  HALF.

The cynical side of me says that the investment companies do this on purpose.  Think about it:  the more you invest with them, the bigger their fees.  Thus, why not use fear and extremely conservative estimates of Social Security to get more money out of people.  I know many people will debate the viability of Social Security, but let’s not digress.

I then wanted just a straight investment calculator, so I hit Dave Ramsey’s investment calculator.  Bingo.  I put in a conservative 8% and 10% return.  OK, conservative for me because I am a gambler/high risk investor.  This calculator shows that I will hit my target in 11 years.

To offset my high risk nature, I have my retirement fund in an S&P Index Fund (70% or so) and then the balance is in an Index US Bond fund.  I will keep that going for another five to seven years.  I am not too worried about the stock index fund because one thing I rely on is time.  Time still remains on my side.

When investment/retirement advisers recommend reining back the risk as you approach retirement, I ask, “Why?”  My retirement will be approximately 20 years or so.  Am I really going to plod along in the slow lane for 20 years?  I am not saying to jump into the most aggressive fund available, but I think a growth strategy works until maybe Age 75 or so.

This all digressed from my original thought of Bucket Lists, but don’t worry.  I’ll do that in another post.  This retirement savings question has to come first because it plays into my travel plans.  In my retirement, what happens to my healthcare costs?  What about assisted living?  Dementia runs rampant on my mom’s side of the family.  I need to be ready for that.

But shit, if I have high odds of ending up drooling in a memory unit, let me go make some damn good memories to forget!

I came up with some rules for financing my Bucket List:

  1. Trip must be paid in full with cash that has been saved specifically for this.  No credit cards, no robbing emergency funds or savings for other things.
  2. That travel cash has to be sitting in the bank before the first reservation is made.

How am I going to get there? First I have to get my financial house back on a firm foundation by completing the following:

  1.  Pay off the balance of my debt.  I have a little remaining with the IRS and my last credit card.  That should be paid off by May at the latest.
  2. Fund my emergency savings.  I want to get it to $15,000.  Currently it has $5,000.  This savings is specifically for my “Oh shit, I lost my job” situations.  Depending upon Maggie & Co proceeds, I think this will be funded by the end of the year.
  3. Have another $5,000 emergency “Shit Happens” savings for things like unexpected car repairs, broken phones, medical expenses not covered by my HSA or insurance.  Just a modest savings to cushion me from Murphy’s Law.  This would give me a total savings of $20,000 before tapping into anything else like my whole life insurance or retirement funds.  I think this also can be funded by the end of 2020.
  4. Complete my obligation to my son to pay him a modest monthly stipend while he is in grad school.  This should end in about 18 months.
  5. Boost my 401k contribution by 2% by mid-year.

Am I delaying my gratification too much?  I don’t think so.  I need to do some serious adulting.  Once again, it is very clear that 2020 is my catch-up year.  A year full of small steps and changes.  Nothing radical, just a steady habit of conservative, frugal choices to set my ship on a clear course to calm waters.

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Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

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