Sunday, September 30, 2007

Byrd's I Engineering....maybe, maybe not...

So - I've not fallen off the face of the earth, but it has felt like it. I've had some struggles - mostly inner struggles, but I'm dealing - and I've got prayer coverage now too.

The tough thing about being a shy, non-confrontational, hermit-esk type person who's also a parent is that I can't withdraw into myself when the world starts hailing down. Sometimes I find it difficult to deal with the crap that is bogging my mind down while trying to be an effective parent.

The bad thing about this is that I'll catch myself being less patient, or quicker to anger, then I'll beat myself up for taking things out on the boys or being too weak minded to compartmentalize the world... so this just adds to my stress.

The good thing is that because I'm aware of my responsibility to my boys, I can't withdraw completely. I used to do this before I had children and it is not a healthy response. Often after I withdraw completely, I have trouble coming back out.

Jeff works wonders for my mental health. He makes me feel like I'm "it" - you know. Its hard to be self deprecating when your best friend and lover makes you feel special. Plus he can always make me laugh - one of the things that first attracted me to him - But because of our eminent move (or not) he's been gone every weekend since the last weekend in August. Weekend's are family time (and long bike ride time)and mom's decompression time. So - its been tough.

Two weekend's ago was pretty rough, but a neighbor called and invited the boys over for the afternoon on that Saturday... I dropped them off and got on my bike for the first time in over a month. I was only going to ride for 1.5 hours, and I told myself not to beat myself up if I my average mph dropped a bit. At the 45 minute mark I was real close to 12.5 miles, so I decided to finish the 12.5 miles. My average mph wasn't too bad considering the time off the saddle. I did hit a wall at mile 18 and had to push myself to keep going - my butt and shoulders were killing me. I completed 25 miles, in a little over an hour and a half - averaging 15.1 mph. Not too bad in my estimation - I was sore all week - mostly my shoulders and back, but the ride did me some good.

Then, last Monday at work I was sucker punched.

I was born in the year of the Dog according to the Chinese calendar. One of the characteristics of the Dog - loyal. Usually - ok most all of the time due to my no-confrontational or actually fear of confrontation I usually just lay down and take it. Quitting a job is something that I just don't do - or I'll agonize over it for a while - because I'm loyal or maybe I'm just scared of change. Monday morning though, I was so angry - if we weren't in the middle of trying to relocate - I would have quit. Walked out and never looked back.

Let me give you some background before I finish explaining what happened. I'm a child of working class parents - well they were when I was a kid, now they are white collar, but regardless of what kind of work they do, they are work-a-holics. I was the kid, who's folks never made it to very many games or plays, or stuff like that. The reason being that my folks were always at work. Real big self image buster...I vowed to myself that I would find a career that allowed me to be there for my kids. Later in life I met Jeff. He's one of the most confident people I know. Many people complain that he's just cocky, but its not cockiness it just pure self confidence - it drive me nuts sometimes. He honestly doesn't understand my self doubt. I've never understood that - I mean I made better grades than he did, have always had a better and/or higher paying job than him - yet I'm the nut. His brother and sister are the same. So what's different - In my opinion it is how we were raised. Jeff's parents were always there supporting him in his stuff, mine were always working. Yes there is a lot more to it than that, I have an alcoholic parent, my folks divorced, etc. He had a basically trauma free childhood.

Anyway my point is that I want to provide my children as much stability and self confidence as possible. Originally the plan was for me to stay at home while our children were young. I wanted to do this (still want to do this), then Jeff's dad died. This changed everything, as we now considered taking over the family ranching business. Out of all of Jeff's siblings we were the most able and willing, but it meant that I now had to work - forever. The family ranching business is not a million acre spread with hundreds of head of cattle operation, no we're talking 100 head maybe a few more if we can afford to lease more land to put them on. You sell one time a year, the rest of the year you spend the money feeding and caring for you herd. Its not a money making venture, but you can make a living if you know what you're doing - 100 head could be equivalent to a 25-35k salary. So as you can see, we kinda need a supplemental income. Plus there is a lot of expense just getting to that point where the ranch will make a consistent salary.

So I get pregnant and I'm working for Washington Tru Solutions at the WIPP site. They introduce a flexible schedule, work 4-9's or 4-8's and reduce your salary by 10-15%. Perfect (or as perfect as I could ask for), so I started working the 4-9's and having every Friday off. That Friday was my day with my kids(I've fought with my Mother-in-law over this day). Having that day made my week, it was/is worth gold to me. Then due to an insecure, male, non-engineer boss - who decided to tell me I make too much as it is when I asked for a promotion because i was doing the work of two engineers since my counterpart retired several months before, I found another job. All be it a lower paying job, much lower paying, but it had some perks - I would be doing real engineering vs wasting tax payer dollars pretending to be an engineer at a glorified garbage dump. The company had an office in Tucumcari which was a lot closer to the end goal of Jeff's family's ranch. I might now get to continue being an engineer instead of stuffing envelopes and living next door to (or with) my mother-in-law. My commute was cut down from an hour one way to half an hour one way. And finally the company offered me the same schedule that I was already working.

So for 2.5 years I've worked my 36 hours plus I've been available on my day off for questions from clients and or other co-workers (many times equating to 40+ hours). In emergencies I've made arrangements for my kids and came into the office or to the field. I've carted my kiddos to the field when the situation warranted it. No complaints - lots of pats on the back. Then Dennis dies, and the non-engineer owners outnumber the engineer owners and they decide to require all professionals to work 5 days a week. (Why would an engineering company want non-engineers to be owners?) No research to determine what the industry does, no open discussion with the employees that currently work alternative schedules to work out issues - just because.

Their reasoning - 1.0 "we've had complaints from clients", uh - what complaints? My clients know my schedule and know how to get a hold of me.
2.0 "Well its not fair to the other employees." Okay, well if we sat down and worked this through, say researched the industry and came up with some proposed schedules that would work for everyone, maybe we could make it fair to the other employees.
3.0 "We might get sued if we didn't allow another employee to work an alternative schedule" - uh you might get sued anyway if me and the only other person working an alternative schedule that was also granted this schedule as a condition of employment decide to sue you. Oh and don't get me started about the guy that works from home - I might sue if you don't let me work at home too.
4.0 "We offer flex time, so if you need to take your kid to the doctor or something..." Yeah - your flex time policy - not very defined so my alternate schedule could be considered flex time. And if I take my kid to the doctor on my day off, I don't have to use my vacation time to do it.
5.0 "Every body's got kids and they work 5 days a week." Did you know that the schools in Tucumcari and surrounding area only go to class 4 days a week? Every body's kids are in school on Friday's except those of us who live (or hope to live) in Tucumcari. And the only other person that has an alternate schedule - live and works in Tucumcari... I thought this was a family friendly employer.
6.0 "Well its just not fair and we want to be a fair employer and we could get sued." Yes... yes you could, lets see you recent track record - umm you laid off two women over 55 in the last 3 months, one of which asked for a transfer to another office in which you declined the transfer and then hired someone else to fill the empty position. Oh and that woman, 3 months from retirement. Now you are threatening to force two people who work 4 days a week as a condition of their employment to work 5 days a week on the grounds of client complaints -of which none are documented, and by touting fairness which I can blow holes into and I'm not a lawyer, I don't even play one on TV. Oh yeah and did I mention that I am the only woman engineer in you're entire company,- I don't like to use that as a trumph card, but push me hard enough and I will.

So this non-confrontational, shy, hermit-esk type person, confronted the CEO and basically won -for now. He said he'll champion my cause to the other owners, so we shall see if that will do any good. Meanwhile...did I mention that I have my own company - I had to put it into hibernation mode when I joined this company, but me and the other guy in Tucumcari are plotting... So uhm, well I guess the moral of the story is don't mess with the shy girl and her babies, cause there is nothing like a bit of serious anger to get one out of depression and into survival mode. This shytrigirl may just focus that anger and bide her time and put her current employer (or one if its offices) out of business some day. Yeah and sponsor herself in her races and be able to write them off as advertising and marketing expenses... I'm not committed to anything yet. I know I will leave this company as soon as I can unless they force me to leave sooner. I'm seriously considering becoming a teacher, but I also seriously considering starting my own company again. We shall see.

In the meantime... so would somebody please buy my freaking house and 10 acres in Artesia!!!


jbmmommy said...

Glad you're back! Good for you for standing up for yourself. I hope that owner comes through for you, you deserve that schedule you were guaranteed. Being a mom has made me get over some old unhealthy habits, too. Aren't kids the best thing ever? Your kids are lucky to have you.

Unknown said...

Good job on your bike ride!

You know I understand the 4-days situation totally. Stand your ground!

Prayer coverage continues on my end. :)

Maybe you should blog more often to vent. It might help. I know that it helps me. :)

Vickie said...

Nothing more fierce than a mamma bear! Its okay to mess with me, but when it involves my kids, watch out! I'm sure that is how you're feeling right now, along with the overwhelming responsibility you face. Hang in there. Things get better, but sometimes you have to wait for the right time to come. And like Lisa says, prayer could be the answer. Pray for the answer on how to handle this dilemma. It could come to you in a most peculiar way, when you least expect it.