Nothing Special, Really

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Decision Time

Alcohol is known as "truth syrum" or "liquid courage." After last night, I can see why.

My company held it's farewell party last night at the Seattle Convention Center. Decent hors d'oeuvres, a slide show of memories past, and two free alcoholic beverage tickets.

Of course, the resourceful always find a way to score additional drink tickets. One of my coworkers, Ryan, had a pretty solid gameplan:

"Look for the pregnant chicks."

In truthfulness, I was just planning to have my two drinks & call it a night. But when drink tickets are being blatantly offered to me, it would be rude not to oblige, right?


I had a conversation with my boss about the job offer to stay with the company. I've always been very honest with my boss, dating back to two years ago where I was stuck in a training position that was self-motivating & very unstructured. I struggled in that position to the extent that I was almost let go last year when the position was no longer needed. It was made temporary with the intent that I would move into another position elsewhere, but I had effectively slacked my way out of that arrangement, and it was only through luck & good timing that my current position opened up at a time when they couldn't afford to have it vacant.

I told her that I was leaning towards declining the offer for the same reasons I mentioned yesterday. Hypothetically speaking, she started throwing out numbers; $X with $X signing bonus, with the understanding that any bonus required a 2 year commitment. What if they gave me the bonus, with or without offsetting my annual salary? What if they bumped up the salary even more? I told her I really didn't know what number it would take for me to committ, and I think it was that part of the conversation that made it apparent my mind was made up, I just hadn't realized it yet.


A couple of coworkers & I left an hour before the party to go prefunk at Gameworks across the street. We started talking about the job situation with everyone. One of us was staying, the other two were not.

At this point in the evening, I was answering the question of my employment in the manner of "Well, I still don't know, but I'm kind of leaning towards declining the offer" yadda yadda yadda.

We head to the farewell party. I cashed in my two drink tickets pretty quickly. I find my boss and start talking to her. The words came out differently this time:

"So I think I'm pretty sure that I'm not staying."

She tells me that I really didn't convince her earlier in the day that my decision was about the money. In reality, it is, but not in terms of what they could offer me to stay.

It was around this time that I procured an extra three drink tickets. With each ticket, the decision was becoming more definite.

Drink three: "I have an offer to stay, but I'm probably going to take the severance instead. I want that chance to see if the grass is really greener."

Drink four: "I'm probably out of here on May 2nd."

Drink five: "Fuck this I'm gone!"


I realized yesterday what was most important to me. It is about the money. But it's about the money right now. Or it's about the money I don't have right now.

It's about the opportunity to get that lump sum now, find a job soon, and apply that lump sum to reducing my debt. It's about being able to set aside a portion of the severance and put it into a savings account. It's about being able to, for the first time in years, not be living paycheck to paycheck. Even if it means setting my career path back a year or two by taking a position that's not exactly where I want to be at this point in time. I would rather do that then take a promotion at the cost of severance.

This is all just a possibility. It's just as likely that I don't find a job until June, July, maybe even beyond. I have to be prepared for that possibility as well. So I'm not banking on this severance being the cure-all for my financial woes, at least not yet. Just the opportunity that it could be a cure-all.

It may not be the most financially sound decision, and it's probably the risker decision, but last night, when I kept smiling just a little bit more as I moved from "leaning towards declining" to "leaving on May 2nd", I realized that it's the decision that I'm most comfortable with.

Now on to the next life crisis: leaving Vegas with as much of my severance as possible.

No one ever said life was easy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

I don't want to be a grown up today.

I have been negotiating with my current employer about a position to remain with the company. It would be a manager position, although it wouldn't be the type of manager that I'd prefer.

They originally offered me the position with a small increase beyond my current salary, on the grounds that it was a comparable position to my current one.

I asked for more on the grounds that, although the functions are comparable, the responsibility is greater.

They came back with more money today. They are still holding firm on the "no retention bonus" but they at least gave me that.

Between my merit increase I received earlier this year and the new salary, my compensation will increase 25% from what it was at the start of the year.

And yet I'm leaning towards declining. Am I insane?


I was forced into this position of having to look for a new job since my company decided to shut down our divisional headquarters. I wasn't anticipating having to do this now. Maybe a year from now, but not this soon.

My company is offering me a severance package as part of the termination. A very generous one, compared to what other companies have done. If I so choose, I could live jobless, and still maintain health benefits, until the end of July.

As soon as the announcement was made, the thought of a "Summer of Matt" entered my mind. Finally, I could become the slacker I've always wanted to be. I've backed off from that desire (although a "Month of Matt" is a definite possibility in May), realizing that the best case scenario would be to find a job elsewhere that A) puts me on the career path I want to be on and B) allows me to pocket the severance package.

Accepting this position would not get me either of those, but instead, it would A) puts me into a manager position that doesn't steer very far from the path I want to be on and B) gives me a higher salary than what I am making or would most likely make with another company.


So what's most important to me?

Salary: I rejected the initial offer to stay with the company because, even though I would receive an increase, it was still too low. First, it would mean rejecting the severance package, and I wouldn't be able to recoup in compensation for about 2 years. Secondly, and the bigger reason, is that I didn't want to pigeonhole myself into an manager position at so low of a salary. Even though it would be my first manager position, a salary that low would have effects on future compensation as well. The new offer is considerably more & would satisfy the concerns I had about the initial offer. I doubt that I will receive a comparable salary with another company.

Career Path: I am at a stage in my career where I want to be in a managerial position within 2-4 years. This position would give me the managerial title, but it is managing the more operational side of Human Resources. My preference is to move to a more strategic position rather than operational. I am also very interested in gaining experience outside of the retail industry. I have been with my company for almost 12 years now, which is practically unheard of for someone who is not even 30 (I can still claim this for 4 more months). I don't anticipate staying with the company for another 12 years, and this is a great opportunity to move into HR within another industry. This position is also very similar to what I am currently doing, and I would not be opposed to accepting a position elsewhere that wasn't managerial but allowed me to gain experience in other areas of HR.

Severance: The value of the severance package decreases each week I don't have a job. I maximize the value by finding a job as soon as possible, yet the job search process hasn't looked very promising lately. I do have a short phone interview later today with another company for a position that is not as desirable as the position with my current employer, but it is a job that I will probably be a top candidate for, and would allow me to maximize the value of my severance package.

Time Off: When I found out I was laid off, I immediately started making travel plans for May, including a trip to Vegas. The Vegas trip is still on but the rest of my plans are dependent upon my job status. I confirmed that if I stay I can still take off a week for other plans that I had, but I don't know about the rest.

Really, a better question is: what's more important, the short-term benefit of severance or the long term benefit of job security? Is it crazy to pass up a promotional opportunity, considering the state of the economy & employment these days, to take a chance in the job market and hope to find another opportunity soon? Or, is it worth it accept a position on the grounds of job security if I suspect that I might not find the satisfaction & enjoyment in the job that I am currently lacking?

I guess there's a lot of questions to answer.


I'm leaning towards declining the offer, and here's why:

I don't believe the best case scenario of finding the right job for me & being able to pocket the severance has passed me by just yet. I thought it was going to when I wrote this post the other week. I was afraid I was going to have to make a decision on my company's job offer without knowing whether or not I was being considered for the other opportunity, which would have been the perfect opportunity (I ended up not being interviewed).

Declining the offer with my current company doesn't necessarily mean that I can't be reconsidered for it at a later date. I've established a good rapport with the team members and I believe that I would be welcomed into the position if I wanted to come back. Furthermore, I know that the position's supervisor will be out of the office for a good portion of next month, so it's very possible that the job may be open for a while. Of course that's no certainty, and if I come back before my severance period runs out I have to pay back the difference.

I may find out that there isn't a better opportunity for me out there. I may come crawling back in a month or two, or I may take another job and be just as unhappy with that. I may not find a job until the middle of June & have to live off more of my severance than I would like to.

But the one thing I'm having trouble getting past is that, if I accept this job, I'll never know that.

Is the grass really greener on the other side? Is it worth it to find out?

I'll let you know tomorrow.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Remembering The Good Times

God bless the Irish & their explosive devices.

Friday night, I went out with Wac & some friends for a birthday celebration. Just me and four ladies. Keepin it gangsta.

I didn't really intend to drink that much Friday night, but isn't that how it always goes?

It was probably bad form that I waited until after I left the Irish pub that I ordered an Irish Car Bomb, but since we left so quickly, it was really the first opportunity I had.

When I was in Dublin, I couldn't resist asking the bartender about Irish Car Bombs. It looked like I was probably the 400th tourist to ask him about that. He said that they did without the Baileys, and just called them Belfast Bombers. Makes sense I guess. The name part, that is. I won't do without the Baileys.

Anyways, back to Friday night.

The first car bomb was so good, I needed a second one. Immediately. Combined with the Harp I had at Conor Byrne's earlier, I was feeling quite dandy. But I needed more.

I switched it up & went with a Trout Slayer. How can you resist a beer with a name like that?

We left a short time later, and I ran into a familiar friend on the side walk. A construction sign.

Constructions signs & drunken Matt have fond memories. Like the time after the Nine Inch Nails concert where I went running down the street, arms spread out, knocking down sign after sign (on a badly sprained ankle, I might add).

Or the time I stole valet cones & placed them all outside my roommate's bedroom door.

Or the time I stole a folding no parking sign and took pictures with it all the way home, then kept it in my apartment for 6 months for no apparent reason.

Some people are violent drunks. Some people are sloppy drunks, some people are lovable drunks.

Me, I'm just someone who likes to partake in harmless vandalism.

After literally walking over each sign I saw (4 in total, I think), I had to pee.

When I was in Dublin, I was at a bar with Rachel when I had to head back to the hostel for some reason, I think it was for my jacket. Halfway there, I had to piss so bad my balls were going to explode, which is crazy because your balls have nothing to do with pissing. But it was that bad. Even just a block away from the hostel, I couldn't hold it any longer, so I had to piss in a doorway.

Friday night, I didn't have to pee as bad, but knowing that we were taking the bus home, peeing in the doorway was again the best idea.

I've been on this kick the past couple of months where I've been in a sort of depression. I promise to talk more about that some other time. I can assure you all that I'm doing fine now, but for a while, I was having a difficult time enjoying life the way I did the few nights I stayed in Dublin. Friday night was a reminder of how to find that enjoyment once again. Just a half pint of Guinness, some Baileys, some Irish Whiskey, a couple of friends, and some construction signs are all it takes.

(keep your eyes out for an update to this post with pics once certain friends of mine get around to sending pics from Friday night)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I hate this part of life.

I hate the uncertainty of not knowing what's going to happen in my life as soon as 3 weeks from now.

I hate having to sell myself over & over & over again.

I hate having to peruse job ads on an hourly basis so that I don't miss out on the very best opportunities.

I hate playing the waiting game after you send your application andor resume to a potential employer.

I hate that employers make snap decisions about who they're going to interview based on two documents, and I hate that these documents basically have to be perfect to receive any consideration.

I hate that it feels like coworkers are getting jobs handed to them left & right.

I hate that, in three weeks, I've recieved nothing but rejections & automated "We received your resume" emails, with the exception of one opportunity.

I hate that the one exception is THE perfect opportunity for me, yet I haven't heard a word since my response to their poorly disguised follow up email that was actually a short email interview.

I hate that this stresses me out so much, because if you know me, you know that hardly anything stresses me out.


So that's what's going on with my life. What started as celebration of the fact that I was getting severed has now turned into the stress via life uncertainty. I was looking forward to taking a month off, being a bum, living carefree. Now, I'm willing to start the Monday after I get laid off if it means that I have a job again.

This 180 in attitude has come about for a couple of different reasons. One, I've finally come to my senses and realized that I'm probably better off financially if I get a job as soon as possible. I'll have severance to live off of if need be, but preferably, I'd like to hold on to as much of that as possible for something other than living expenses. Things like paying off credits cards, savings accounts, and maybe a vacation somewhere. So I've stepped up the pressure on myself & begun the job search a lot sooner than expected.

Two, I just don't deal well with uncertainty in my life. I have plans to make in May that I can't even make until maybe a week before it's supposed to happen because I don't know what's going to happen. Right now, I'm waiting to hear back about a position that would be the ideal place for me. The position is exactly where I want to be at this stage of my career, it's with a very successful company that's been rated one of the best places to work in Seattle, and it's maybe a 5-10 minute walk from my apartment. They sent a follow-up email the same day I sent them my resume. The email was one of those "We just have a couple of questions for you" but was basically a short interview. I planned my answers carefully & sent this to them Sunday night. Of course, because they responded so quickly the first time, I expected the same, and spent all of Monday checking my email via phone nearly every 20 minutes. I've laid off since then, checking it maybe every hour or so, but at this point, I'd almost be happier getting a rejection email then sitting here in limbo. Even just an acknowledgement email, something like "Thanks for your reply; we'll be in contact if there's anything else we need." would put me at ease. Instead, I'm stuck here wondering if my email was good enough, or if I said something that blew the opportunity for me, or if the email somehow didn't go through.

There's a career fair at work today. God I hate career fairs. I'm not looking forward to spending half my day talking to recruiters, trying to pitch myself, playing the smile back & forth game with everyone, getting excited about potential opportunities only to get stood up again. It's times like this that remind me to be grateful that I have such a wonderful girlfriend. If I had to play this game while still playing the dating game as well, I'd rather gnaw my own head off.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A good April Fool's joke has to be planned well in advance. There's plenty of dunces who will fall for something the day of, but what's the enjoyment in that? It's tricking those uber-aware people that really gives you satisfaction.

The last intricate joke I played was a combo joke between my friend Carrie & I. We spun a story of how one late night study session became "something more". The beauty of the story was that we were able to go a number of directions with it to target more than one victim.

Victim No 1 - Rachel (one of my best friends)

Rachel: "Hello?"

Me: "Hey it's me."

R: "What's up?"

M: " I need some help."

R: "Just so you know, I know what today is."

M: "What do you mean?"

R: "I know it's April Fools."

M: "Dammit."

Proceed to tell Rachel the story I had all planned out.

M: "So you think Kristin will go for it?"

R: "Totally."

Victim No 1 - Kristin (One of my other best friends)

Kristin (at work): "This is Kristin."

Me: "Hey it's me."

K: "Hi! What's going on?"

M: "I need to talk to you" (voice sounding somewhat weak & fragile)

K: "What's wrong?"

M: "I was over at Carrie's last night studying for a test, and afterwards I stayed to hang out & have some drinks. We ended up having a bit too much, and, well...we started fooling around."

K: "No way! Did you sleep with her?"

M: "No, it didn't get that far because something happened"

K: "What?"

M: "Well, at one point she was going down on me, and (voice sounding even more weak & fragile) I called her by someone else's name."

K: "Really?"

M: "Yeah."

K: "I wouldn't worry about it. I'm sure she'll understand it was an accident."

M: "Well, that's not the worst part."

K: "It's not?"

M: "No. (pause for dramatic effect, maybe even threw in a sniffle) God, I don't even know how to say this."

K: "What is it?"

M: " didn't want to tell you, but it freaked me out so bad, I think I have to."

K: "What happened?"

M: "I called her by your name."

K: "You did?"

M: "Yeah. I'm sorry, it's just so weird, I probably shouldn't have even told you, but I don't know what that means."

K: "It's OK. Things like that happen."

Fuck! Instead of getting weirded out, she plays the concerned friend role.

M: "I just hope it doesn't make it weird between us, you know?"

K: "Well, it is kind of strange, but I understand. Have you tried talking to her yet?"

M: "Yeah, I called her this morning and tried to talk to her about it."

K: "What did she say?"

M: "She said....April Fools?"

K: (pause)

K: (letting it all sink in)


Around the same time in the day, Carrie is telling one of our classmates, Casey the same story. When we all met up for Thursday Night Drinking Night, the foundation was layed for our next victim.

Victime No 3 - Casey, the college classmate

(insert random drunken conversation here)

Carrie: "I'll be right back, I gotta go to the restroom."

(insert brief conversation here)

Me: "So, did Carrie happen to tell you anything about something happening recently?"

Casey (KC): "Yeah, she did."

M: "Oh really? What did she tell you?"

KC: "About how you guys hooked up last night?"

M: "Oh. That's wonderful."

KC: "Uh...was I not supposed to know that?"

M: "No, I specifically asked her not to tell anyone."

Carrie comes walking back from the restroom

M: "What the fuck?"

C: "What?"

M: "I asked you not to tell anyone."

C: "Tell anyone what?"

M: "You know exactly what I'm talking about."

C: (looks at Casey) "You told him?"

KC: "I didn't know it was supposed to be a secret."

M: "So what did she tell you...everything?"

I don't remember what her version of the story was, but it was supposed to be something embarrassing about me.

KC: "Yeah"

C: "Fuck, Casey!"

M: "Don't be pissed off at him for telling a secret you couldn't keep yourself! You didn't tell him EVERYTHING everything, did you?"

C: (looking away, silent)

M: "Seriously?"

Allow a minute or so for some awkward silence.

M: "So much for trusting the two of you anymore."

Let another half minute or so go by

M: "You really told him everything?"

C: "I think so."

M: "Even the part about how this is all a big April Fool's joke?"

KC: (pausing a moment to think about it)

KC: (looks at the big grins on our faces)

KC: "You fuckers!"

Sadly, on this April Fools day, I'm left to reminisce about past glories. Pulling off a good prank requires too much effort & preparation anymore, and frankly, even at 29, I'm getting too old for this shit.

I guess I should get back to work.