Sunday, August 14, 2016

And now...The Rest of the Story

Transferring locations was a huge deal for me.

The biggest part of it was the location: we'd just bought a house in Round Rock, which we chose because it was close to my doctor (yay!) and only six miles away from the store. The South location stands 25 miles away from our house. On a good morning, that's a 35 minute drive one way. On a GREAT morning, it's 25 minutes. On an average morning, 45 minutes. And then those terrible, awful days happen...and it's 1 hour and 15 minutes. By car.

By bus? A total commute time of 2 hours each way, so a 4 hour commute daily IF there were no complications.

It only took one month of driving me back and forth for Padawan to put his foot down: he was NOT taking me to work and picking me up five days a week. NO WAY. It only took me a week of taking the bus to decide I was getting my license. A week later, I had a permit. Two weeks later, I bought a car. Six weeks later, I got my driver's license. (Interesting note: car insurance companies do not actually care how long you have had your driver's license when they choose to insure you or charge you a rate. Turns out they only care about your age. I was 26, so I got full coverage auto insurance plus Gap Insurance for a bargain $87 a month from Progressive, while my then 24 year old sister was paying $322 a month for her full coverage insurance.)

It must be noted that I learned to drive on Mopac, one of the most awful and terrifying expressways known to man. Mopac and I have a very deep love/hate relationship. I love that Mopac drops me off practically on the doorstep of my job, but I hate her narrow lanes, construction, and all of the assholes that congest her lanes by driving too close and just completely disregarding the use of blinkers. It must also be noted that I refuse to drive on I-35, which would probably shorten my commute by ten miles. But I am an Austinite, and I grew up with the saying, "Stay alive, stay off 35." One day, that may have to change. But today, in the here and now, I have reached my limit. Mopac or bust.

Fitting into the new location was actually pretty simple. What my title became is anyone's guess: I was not a department manager because there was already a department manager, but I retained all of my authorities and even got a raise, and when the department manager wasn't around I assumed his duties and handled the problems.

About nine months after my arrival, though, there was a snag. As it turned out, I was doing great and the South store was extremely pleased to have me, but my sudden departure from the North store apparently caused something of a decline. I was called into the Vice President's office one day where I was asked, asked not ordered, if I would consider going back.

The Store Manager was asking me to come back.

I'm not going to lie. I wanted to just say "no" immediately and have done with it. I think they knew that was the way the wind would blow, too, which is why they asked me to "take a week, talk to Padawan, and see how you feel about it." It must also be mentioned that they said they knew about my "difficulties with management and some of the staff" and that "management was prepared to make it work" and "if you can't consider it because of a certain employee, you can make that call and we will fire him".  (They were, of course, referring to the Game Show Host. It seems EVERYONE thought that people problems were why I chose to jump ship.)

Wow. I'm not going to lie. That last line super impressed me. And I realized, of course, that the ball was in my court. They needed this. They needed me. And even as I walked back downstairs, I knew that I was going to go home and make a list or pros and cons, and then a list of things that I needed to change if I was going to entertain the idea of going back. In the course of twenty minutes, I found myself wondering if I was going to go back.

I made two lists, of course. One list of pros and cons for each Store. Having worked at both locations, I now knew the good things and bad things about both. In the end, both lists turned out pretty much even. So I made a list of things that would need to be changed, and a week later I met with the VP and told him what I would need. He said I would have to work that out with the Store Manager, and so the Store Manager called me and we arranged to meet for coffee on my day off, outside of the store. (Because nobody could know about this, obviously. We didn't want to upset anyone South or excite anyone North until we knew which way this would go.)

Anyone who knows me will not be surprised by the way the meeting went. First of all, I was ten minutes early. He was six minutes late. (I knew he would be late, he always is, so I ordered myself a coffee and a danish to occupy my time.) And I did not make it easy for him. After he got his coffee and sat down and we went through the obligatory "how are you?" and so on, I started made my first comment. "Well, this is pretty awkward, isn't it?"

Because it was. Let's not mince words here: this man made me feel weird, alienated, and unwanted. It was no secret that I seriously disliked everything about him and that he made me so angry sometimes I wanted to pop him one. And yet here we were, playing nice as if a year ago had never happened.

"Why is it awkward?"

I mean, he really opened himself up for what he got next. "Well, a year ago you called me into your office and you said, and I quote, I'm a bad teammate, I'm unpleasant to be around, I make everyone uncomfortable, and if I was fired I would never be able to find another job. I mean, if you believed all of those things, then why the hell are we here?"

He, of course, said he couldn't remember the conversation. Of course he couldn't. That was exactly what I expected him to say. Except he added that it sounded like something he would say when he was pissed off, and had we been arguing? Well, yes, we had. Two days prior to the conversation, actually. Which brought me to the next point, "You also said, in that same conversation, that if you say 'jump', my only response should ever be 'how high?' and that you expected me to just be quiet and do as I'm told. I can't work in an environment like that."

And that, of course, brought about a response that I was not prepared to hear. "Well, I don't remember saying those things, but they all sound like things I would say, and so I am sorry about that. I say things I don't mean when I get angry, and then I forget them. I didn't mean them."

Well, aren't you just lucky to have the luxury of saying terrible things and then forgetting them entirely. I, unfortunately, do not have the luxury of hearing terrible things and forgetting them. But I do have the common sense to know a genuine apology when I hear one. I accepted his apology and then we moved on to my terms.

He was more than willing to give me every concession I asked for, bar none.

It seemed we were in agreement, and I was not opposed to returning. I wasn't opposed to staying either, which is exactly what I told the VP the next day at work. "I just want to do whatever is best for the company."

But then they talked to my department manager who raised enough of an outcry that they decided to scrap the whole idea and leave the North location to deal with their own problems without me, and I was content with the idea that I was a valuable commodity that was wanted everywhere. It's not a bad feeling to have.

Come April, there was suddenly a new position available. Or rather, created within the company. It came with an impressive title (just in time for my high school reunion), a nifty pay raise, a desk of my very own, upstairs and away from the sales floor, with Monday-Friday hours on my terms, options for vacation at Christmas, Spring Break, and over the summer, and, as silly as this sounds, the best part was that my lunch time became completely independent of everyone else's. I could literally have lunch WHENEVER I WANTED and not have to wait for someone else or ask when everyone else was planning to go. (Yes, the idea of lunch on my own terms was listed prominently in the Pros column of my list.)

Four months later, Artist (who works the counter and was my counterpart in all things creative and fun) is finally coming around and isn't so mad at me for leaving her anymore. (When a rumor got around that I was considering returning to the North store she point blank told me that she felt like the balance of personalities in the department was perfect and I would totally fuck it all up again if I left.) Although, she still laments the fact that Rivers (my replacement) is not a woman. He also doesn't know a lot of movies so he never gets any of her obscure movie references. We are currently trying to teach him the art of punning. As Lumberjack has so succinctly put it, "It's like trying to teach Data from Star Trek how to tell jokes. It's hilarious."

In all honesty, sometimes I miss the camaraderie of working the counter, so I stop in about fifteen minutes a day to tell some jokes and let Artist tease me about whatever personality quirk of mine she finds the most baffling that day. (She loves to tell me I'm bananas. I think that's like a common saying up North. Like someone is bananas rather than saying batshit crazy.)

But I'm very pleased with my new position and all that it brings. (Except the deposit. That wasn't part of my job description. It was dumped on me a month into my promotion, and it is awful.) Turns out I was right (as is often the case), and making the change was a good thing.  


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    1. She doesn't have any points on her license. She's never had so much as a speeding ticket. She did have one accident, but it was the other driver's fault so I don't think it was even reported to her company. It dropped when she turned 25 to $215 a month. It must also be noted that she has a 3 door car with a v6 engine, but her insurance company classifies that as a "two door sports car" because they only have a 3 or 4 door option...go figure. Still, she's paying more than twice what I pay. But then a lot about her car confuses me. She's paying 17% INTEREST on her car loan. I'm paying 2.67%. It's completely baffling. Who makes these decisions?

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    3. I don't know my sister's credit rating or where she got her car. I know she doesn't have credit cards or anything. If it's based on credit, she probably has NO credit. Her car is the first thing she ever had to have a credit check to obtain, so perhaps the car dealership considered her lack of history a bad thing? I sometimes look at credit reports in my job, and when I see that they have no credit cards, no inquiries, and nothing in collections but they pay their bills on time, I consider that a pretty good customer. They don't borrow money they don't have, they pay everything up to date. Seems like a pretty low risk to me. But I am not a bank and we're talking like twenty five hundred dollars for an instrument versus seventeen thousand for a car. (Her car, not mine. I would never get a first car that expensive.) I don't really know exactly what is going on in her world. It makes her uncomfortable when I ask about her finances and bills (out of concern, but I think it embarrasses her) to see if she's doing okay.


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