Saturday, June 30, 2007
Of Foundering Ships and Lifeboats
This blog has been silent for a few days, because I've been working on a huge decision. A life-changing decision. A fearful decision, but one that comes due. I can't say I have "peace" with it because I don't understand what true "peace" happens to be; it is not in my nature to do anything other than agonize over everything, especially the big stuff. But I am as close to peace as one with my temperment can get.
I have stated I hate my job, I am struggling in my work, etc etc, but I have never stated what I do, and for a reason. But I will tell that tale now; I work for a major insurance company, and I handle specialized claims involving a high risk of fraud. I've been at this company for nearly five years; when I began, I had a certain goal, a position to be obtained, and the path to that position was very clear and very obvious. So I worked very hard and even though I was constantly stressed out and overwhelmed, I kept my eye on the prize, and I was rewarded with a promotion to step one of my goal exactly one year from the date I was fully operational in my first position. For approximately six months to a year, I enjoyed my work, and I would go so far as to say I loved my job and it was a "dream job", although there were parts I really disliked.
Then the trouble began...things really began to change, both in management and company policy, and to top it off, in my faith. I was becoming a different person, the company was becoming a different company, and I hit my first low point.
I won't go into the details, but suffice to say I never came back from that low point; rather, I got deeper and deeper into my dissatisfaction. They made decisions that negatively affected my unit, and the other reps in the same position abandoned ship leaving me alone to handle the workload for months...when we were already behind. I had to absorb their workload and my own, and then take on the new stuff every single day. Additionally, the way things are structured and the way the numbers were measured for "productivity", meant there was no relief because I was REQUIRED to do the work of 2.5 or more people in order to meet the numbers for my UNIT, not for my own productivity.
This happened sometime in July/August two years ago, and I was not able to take vacation until late October because there wasn't another rep up and running yet to take on some of the workload.
My week off wasn't enough and I have never fully recovered from that first burnout, the first truly crushing load. Things got "better" only in comparison to the worst, but I would not call my job manageable, and let's just fast forward to present times; the company has restructured a few times and they've come out with a new method of determining what we have to do within what period of time. Some of this workload structure is logical and they should have done it long ago....but overall, for my unit, it doesn't make sense. We can't meet our numbers the majority of the time, and my unit has another issue...half of my unit in my specific job is in another part of the state, while the two of us in the Metro area, predicatably, must both do our own work and the work of those outstate because stolen vehicles are more often stolen and recovered from our area. People come to visit the Metro from outstate and their cars get stolen in Minneapolis...guess who has to deal with the cars and repairs in spite of our existing workloads??
I've become less and less motivated over time. I can't keep up with the demands. I can't keep up with the unrealistic schedule the company has set or the advertising campaigns that throw us all under the bus. Every day I have to work hard to get up to go to work. I can get up for everything else in life; but ask me to open my eyes and roll out of bed for work? That's the equivalent of asking me to get up and descend into Hell for eternity. The only thing that makes me go to work every day is my obedience to God and a form of praise for what He has given me...a house, a car, a certain amount of the same illusion of financial security everyone has.
But I can't do it anymore. On Friday at 4 pm I got a new claim, a recovered theft, in a suburb at the extent of my territory (which means it's an all-day or two affair to deal with the car alone, never mind the investigation), and I nearly got up and left at that moment. I've had too many moments like that.
I nearly left my job in March, requested a leave of absence, thinking to live on savings (which are meager but could have lasted me a month), but my leave was denied. My Manager, a good guy with a good heart, who understands that I'm burned out, gave me permission to take an immediate vacation if it would help. I gave a week or two for notice, actually wondering if I would just not come back. But I did go back, and two weeks after my return I was placed on a form of "probation" for performance. My management, both my Manager and my new direct Supervisor acknowledge that I'm burned out, but they have to follow what the Company says; the only answer is "work harder or we'll shoot your managment team!".
End of the line
Last week, my immediate co-worker, the other person suffering with me in the Metro area told me that she has a couple options lined up and she is giving notice this week. Neither of us wants to shoot the other in the back. She knows if I leave, she gets my work on top of her own. If she leaves...well, I've detailed this above....I can't do that again. If that happens, I will simply walk away because it's TOO MUCH. I will walk to my Manager's office, verbally state my purpose, box of my belongings in hand, and I will walk away.
I actually don't feel that's the best way to do things.
My feelings are not new, so I've come to my decision very methodically, and admittedly, affected by my co-worker's plans. I know what's coming.
1. I'm on probation, and right now, I'm behind. My file reviews are complete crap, both because we are overworked due to an unbalance in workload and being just plain worn out as a result of this Company's business plan. I have not had a goal here in years; I know I actually have no future here because my own personal goals have changed and due to an unjust accusation made a couple years ago...let's just say there's no redemption for me, either available or wanted. It's really hard to go a job day after day knowing there is no career path, knowing that the only road is doom. And after "that meeting" knowing that one is about to be fired.
2. I've considered being fired, and nearly prayed for it, only so that I can collect unemployment. If I walk away, I get nothing. Sure, I could go to a doctor and talk about how every time I see a car with damage (which is a lot....most cars on the road have some kind of damage and I have this ability to see it ALL), my stomach churns and my blood pressure rises. Every time I see a car with ground effects or a spinner kit (as an aside...these things are so tacky...don't buy them), I feel the need to vomit and then immediately go on a diatribe against any idiot out there buying aftermarket equipment with which to trick out their cars, because it only makes them a target for thieves, and they're not getting paid for the stuff when that happens, anyway. And it's not my fault so quit yelling at me for your ignorance.
But if I go to a doctor and relate all that, and they diagnose me with some sort of "anxiety disorder", guess what? Now I have a mental health label. I'd rather not have that on my record especially as that anxiety does not exist apart from my job. The rest of my life is fine; I love the rest of my life! Getting a mental health label for the purpose of arguing for unemployment benefits is, in my estimation, dishonest and fraudulent.
3. If I give notice now, I can leave on good terms; I can give sufficient notice for them to post the position and get someone in to it, and since no one will be able to step into it for about two months or so, it will also teach them not to hire someone outstate when the need is in the Metro. So my quitting is a learning experience for them. Additionally, I can leave with references.
I have been with this company for nearly 5 years...I'm quitting just short of my anniversary. Because of this, I simply cannot afford to sit there and get fired, leaving both with nothing there and nothing to show for my work. If I leave on my time, I take my dignity, I take references (already promised by my Manager), and I buy time both with the timeframe I give and my week of vacation time left for me.
So there it is. I simply cannot do this job anymore. I fight every day to go in, and those powers that be over my head have acknowledged my burnout. I can barely do each task, and I just don't care anymore. It's weird...I care about my customers, but not about the work. I don't dislike the people...I loathe the circumstances that bring them to me and the work I'm required to do for them. I like helping them...but I hate the way in which I have to help them.
And too often, as I have to investigate, I also feel I am defaming the innocent and rewarding the guilty.
I cannot live out that dichotomy anymore.
I've given this company nearly five years of my life and I will concede one more month...and that's it. I can't go on any further.
I am praying to our wonderful God that if He deigns that I should remain, that he keep me there. I still pray to be doing this according to His will. As a friend of mine told me yesterday, "God can work with decision...he cannot work with indecision."
So I make a decision to quit, and I give sufficient time.
The ship I'm on is sinking, and it's obvious. This Company is losing people from the higest local levels, and my own immediate team is completely miserable. All of us plan to leave soon because we can't stand being robots anymore. We've all been in the workforce for a long time, and what we have experienced here is not typical of other fields, or even other companies. We know better, and we know that when the leaders flee the ship, we should have fled long before.
I don't have another job to fall upon, but it seems to me that it's far better for a beggar to dive into the ocean of God's mercy and providence than to remain in the hold of a sinking behemoth and be sucked down with no chance of survival.
My resume has been posted and I have cover letters to send out. Grad school is not an issue because I can't pay for it anyway. Some friends of mine will have soem benefitless part time work for me this fall if worst comes to worst, and I just learned there may be some mortgage assistance.
God will make his will known. All I have to do is turn in my resignation letter and allow God to act. I'm already doing all I can for now.
Please pray for me, my co-workers, and our immediate management; there are no personal problems as everything comes from above.
I need a new job, I am a highly qualified person in several fields, and I am a good and loyal employee. May God bring me to a position in which my natural gifts and obtained knowledge/experience are utilized in such a way as to glorify God.
And if not...well, I'd still rather lose my house than my mind. In all liklihood, my resignation will be turned in on Monday, although I may put it off if my Manager comes back soon, extending my last day into August. He's very ill and they don't know what's wrong with him. Please keep him in your prayers.