Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Quitter

The ad read “Executive Administrative Assistant.”  It meant “Secretary.”  My new master’s degree and I didn’t care.  I was organized, good on the phone, and had decent computer skills, thanks to swift on-the-job training at school, where I found myself plunged into a new world led by computer technology instead of people skills, which I also excelled at.  I was planning a wedding and a new life.  I didn’t need a career; we needed cash.

My word processing and spreadsheeting skills proved worthy enough to land the job, and I worked forty-plus hours a week deciphering the boss’s handwriting as I typed up reports and data tables full of familiar numbers and letters due to my time spent crunching academic data.  I knew statistics, and asked questions about the programs used to come up with the results I was transcribing, and isn’t this a better way to say this than what you’ve put here?  Within months I was part of the projects teams, spending my days doing additional analyses and writing rough drafts of report results.  I hated the stats, but loved the writing.

My coworkers, most transplants from Brooklyn, filled the air with accented voices I had only heard on TV and in the movies.  I stood on the sidelines, watching the Goodfellas converse in a way I previously thought was fabricated in Hollywood.  They took me in as a Yankee sister, having originated from north of the Mason-Dixon Line, though admittedly more Midwestern than East Coast.  One thing we shared: our surroundings were foreign.  Grits and biscuits were on every menu; twangy ya’lls stood out as homegrown strangers and neighbors addressed each other.

It was a small, friendly, fast-paced office and I was moving on up.

One day I went to work feeling awful.  I looked it too, because my boss came out of his office, stared at me, and said You Look Awful.

This was not out of the ordinary for me, feeling awful at work.  My husband and I were in our early twenties, and we stayed up too late and drank and ate too much of the wrong things.  Never, though, had anyone called me on actually looking the part.  The worst part of this declaration was that I had no excuse; there was no over-indulging to blame this time.

One call to my mother and a trip to the drugstore confirmed what my husband and I didn’t plan: I was pregnant.

We discussed children; how many, what kind, names.  He liked Peyton; I liked Marguerite.  Having both grown up without nannies and daycare, we wholly agreed that one of us would stay at home.  We knew it would be me.  We kept quiet about that, biding our time until the time was apparent. 

A new job appeared for my husband, far away from there but closer to home.  Things made more sense.   We were starting a new life again.  I approached the boss, trembling.  I’m pregnant and we’re moving, I said.  He smiled.  I know plenty of people in that city.  I can find you something.  My boss was a good person.

No, I said.  I want to stay home.  I want to continue to work for you, but remotely.

Telecommuting was a new thing, but I convinced him that I was a good worker, that I’d stay on top of things, and that there would be no difference in the work I produced.

It worked.  The move and transition from office job to home office went smoothly, though I missed the rapport and pop-in conversations I had with coworkers.  I was isolated, but the move was necessary for our family.  It was the best of both worlds.  Two years went by and our family was four.

Things got tougher.  The workload changed; the deadlines stricter.  My flexible hours were not flexible enough.  They needed this done in an hour, and I was in the middle of making dinner for my family.  I needed to work during naptimes, and the client needed a rough draft when the kids woke up.

I struggled.  I refused work.  I asked for longer deadlines.  In time, my coworkers gave up including me in their projects.

My husband and I talked.  By then I was only working part-time; my salary wasn’t huge, and surely we could get by on less?  As long as we could pay our bills and eat, we would manage.  We set a date, and I dialed the company.

I talked to two people; my project manager, by then the department head, who agreed that this was the best move for me, and my boss, who admitted that he didn’t even know that I still worked for him.  I said my goodbyes and hung up, free.  I didn’t think I’d feel so light.  I had worked there for six years, five of them remotely.

Today, I work solely as a manager of our household, as I have every day for the past eight years since that day.  This job has proven to be most important to our family, even though it comes with no paycheck.  The benefits outweigh the costs, and I would quit any other job to do it. 



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This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #4: Tell us about a job you quit…why did you do it?

24 comments:

  1. I think it's great that you knew what you needed to do when you needed to do it and that it all worked out.

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    1. Thank you! There are times when I wonder if I threw in the towel too early, that I should have worked harder and been a better employee. But then I see where we landed, and I know better.

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  2. I quit my job to stay home and raise my family too. Best decision ever.

    Glad it all worked out for you :)

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    1. Glad it worked out for you too! My mother-in-law says her years staying home were the best of her life.

      There have been days when I wouldn't have agreed with her, but today, I can say the same thing. :)

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  3. I'm not only impressed that the company agreed to telecommuting, but also that you stuck with it that long! I'm pretty sure I don't have the self-discipline to work from home.

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    1. Thanks. I was surprised that he agreed to it too. You'd be able to do it too if given the chance and if you liked the job well enough. AND definitely if you'd promised to do a good job in the first place. That's what kept me going.

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  4. I am impressed that you worked from home for so long. That must have been tough. I have been home with my brood for 14 years and don't regret a minute. Ok, every once in a while I wish I had a job to go to. Stopping by from Mama Kat's!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! It was tough, but it worked for us. Our son was an amazing napper. Our daughter was good at entertaining herself. If I was asked to go back now I'm afraid there would be some soul-searching. I love being at home, even though some days I want to pull my hair out.

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  5. This was so interesting. Although I admit to being flummoxed about where you could have possibly been with Brooklyn co-workers in a place where people said y'all. I was also an Executive Assistant, and also quit to have my first, but I fully quit and I was so glad.

    By the way, if I were tagging people, I would have tagged you here: http://aladyinfrance.com/2013/06/06/alphabet-meme/

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    1. Ha! Our New York-raised president brought his employees with him to the Carolinas - they were like a family - it was a small company. He rounded out the rest of his workers by hiring people who lived in the South but came from the North.

      Read your alphabet meme - I can't believe I've never done this one! I will have to add it to my list of to-do posts!

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  6. Wow, I'm impressed that you kept it up for 5 years! I've always been a SAHM and I can't even manage to clean the house. I don't actually try, but still ;)
    Stopping by from Mama Kat's.

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    1. Thanks for stopping! I have to admit, when I worked for the company my house was always clean. Now, eh, not so much. Why is that?

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  7. Sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders. I also left my job to stay home, it actually ended up to be more economical for me to stay home than to hire nannies and daycare. I'm an Italian from NY and I always said goodfellas was just like my family only with guns!! Altho no one in Brooklyn tawks like dat anymwah

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    1. Thank you! It was better for us economically, too - daycare and travel and clothing would have eaten up my salary.

      I was worried that my stereotyping Brooklynites (Brooklyners?) would be taken negatively, so I am glad to hear that you referred to your family as the Goodfellas too. You would have loved this office!

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  8. Glad you love your new job and said good-bye to that other demanding, stressful one! Good for you!

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    1. Thank you! It's been the right choice for our family so far. :)

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  9. When we discussed starting a family, there was no doubt in my mind that I would stay home with the children, because that's exactly how it should be for us. I've been out of the workforce for over 4 years (yes my son is 3 1/2, what, I practiced for 8 months before he was born) and I can't imagine any other life.

    I'm glad it worked out for you!

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    1. Thanks! I know exactly what you mean when you say you can't imagine any other life. Some friends go back to work and I just can't see myself in their shoes. What would it be like?

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  10. Good for you! I have a really hard time walking away from any kind of income so I typically just try to accept everything and make it work. Sometimes I'm pretty good at staying on top of everything and sometimes I want to crawl into a hole. I think I'm definitely on my last legs as far as the daycare is concerned. Serious burnout.

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    1. Thanks. Walking away from income is hard, especially if you contribute a good deal to your household, which for me wasn't the case. These days I pay myself by stealing my kids' piggy bank money to pay for things like shoes and small appliances.

      Ha ha ha, just kidding - we use that money for babysitters. ;)

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  11. I only had the job for two years, but I think SAHM is the best job in the world :)

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  12. Andrea, great story! I have been waiting for this day since my son was born 3 1/2 years ago, and I'm praying that it's right around the corner. And I think it really is this year. Fingers crossed! Being a mom who has to work but HATES to work really sucks.

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    1. Thank you! I will keep my fingers crossed for you as well!

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