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Boss Pats Himself On Back
by Vanessa Fasanella | Aug 9, 2012 12:00 pm
Posted to: Recession, Working Mom's Diary
Diarist Vanessa Fasanella returned to work after an ominous Friday warning from her company’s owner—that she consider whether she still should be working at the company.
So I left work Friday evening feeling beyond confused. Should I really “think about it this weekend,” per his suggestion?
I didn’t have time to think. I had to work on Sunday, and I had to hope like hell I had a job. Because my husband’s been out of work for over a year, and he hasn’t had any decent interview or lead, and he has an awesome resume. I have a so-so one. So if he can’t get a job, how can I lose mine?
I was upset when I walked to my car. I felt blindsided, and really confused. I normally feel like a pretty smart person, but these conversations with the owner this week left me feeling dumb. And numb. And surprised. Like I had been foolish enough to walk into his office not once, but twice, and not have been able to see the verbal ambush coming. Like I had brought my knife to a gun fight. Twice.
I talked to a few coworkers afterward, on the way out, as they wanted to know why I had been called into his office again. The weird thing was that it was difficult, painful even. I was not doing well at the selling part of the job, and that’s most of the job, so why was I so shocked that we were having these conversations?
Maybe it was because the manager was on vacation this week, and it felt weird to talk to the owner directly. He really mostly communicated to the other managers, and spoke to us salespeople peripherally.
But not this week. I couldn’t help but think that he was enjoying this cat-and-mouse game, where none of us mice saw these interactions coming.
The weirdest thing was that during the rough meeting on Friday, he had asked me if I would like to have his friends give me a job. I had told him that I really wanted my husband to be happy and find work, me to go back to staying home with the kids, but that I guess that would be great. The way he said it made me doubt him—it felt like a strange kind of pity job offer.
Plus, how could he speak for other people? This economy was and is awful, so to make an offer to get me job somewhere else seemed nice, but too nice.
I was right to be suspicious. A friend later told me it was an act, to get him out of paying me any unemployment. That seemed more his style. But the offer part, I still wanted to explore that.
The weekend was a blur. I had dinner with my parents on Friday, spent time with my husband and the girls on Saturday, but had to work on Sunday.
When I walked in, I felt like everyone was watching me. I know they weren’t, but I felt beyond paranoid. I felt like throwing my time card in the garbage and quitting, as the anticipation was actually hurting me. Five hours on a Sunday have never felt so long.
On Monday, I vowed to try harder than I ever had before. I was going to come out of the corner swinging, I told myself, and not stop until it was 5 o’clock. I returned emails, I made a lot of phone calls, and I vowed to walk into the owner’s office and fight for my job. (If asked.)
It didn’t happen anything like that. I had spent a lot of the day trying to reach a young man about his new sports car that had come in, as he couldn’t decide between buying it and leasing it, and I really needed him to choose. We had gone back and forth over the phone many times last week, and I had even followed up our last call with a detailed email about how leasing was the right choice for him. I really wanted to get him to take delivery of the car a week ago, but that hadn’t happened. If I could just get him to choose, and get him to come in, I thought, I’d be on the road back. I’d be back in the swing of things, and well on my way to being successful again.
Mid-afternoon, the owner called me into his office again.
I actually cringed, like a child being called into the principal’s office. He asked me again if I knew that I wasn’t the person he hired anymore, the energetic woman with questions who wowed him during the interview. The one who had actually said that selling cars was in her blood. (My father’s cousin owned a big dealership when I was a kid.)
I was embarrassed. I told him I didn’t know. I shocked myself. How stupid was I? Did I just give him the verbal ammunition to finish me off?
I surprised myself again, when I started crying. I wanted to scream, “There’s no crying in car sales!” at myself, but I couldn’t. I had already mentally checked out. I had failed, and I knew it.
He told me that this type of job wasn’t for everybody, and seemed kind. Then he switched over to being inappropriate, and said I should put my foot in my husband’s backside (paraphrased) until he finds a job, so I could stay home with my kids, like I should. I was floored.
What a jerk. Not that I could be choosy, I really needed this job. My family really needed me to have a job.
He told me he would make some calls, try to get me a job as a sales rep at another company, then wrote some phone numbers down for me. He promised me that he would give me my pink slip and not fight unemployment. He said that he felt bad that it didn’t work out, because he really personally liked me. He swore that he would vouch for me with whomever may call him for a reference, and that he wouldn’t do that for just anyone.
Then he told me he should pat himself on the back for how he does business. Yuck. Now I felt awful. Was I being fired in a Jekyll and Hyde-type way, or watching a scene from the drama club in middle school? This was confusing.
I got up, started to walk out, and turned to shake his hand. I thanked him for the chance, and the job, and the offer to help me find a job. Then I actually said, “Don’t tell anyone I’m doing this,” and gave him a hug and kiss.
I felt possessed, but I guess I thought that I would walk out of there with class and grace, and not tell him how I had felt hoodwinked and tortured while working there.
The HR guy handed me a bunch of papers, I cleared out my desk and hugged a few people, then left. I was shocked but I shouldn’t have been.
I guess the thing that got me was the whole way in which it happened. The manager, who had been on vacation the week before, joked that it was nice of me to stick around long enough to say goodbye to him when he got back. What an unfuzzy feeling that comment left me with.
A nice coworker walked me out, and along the way I said goodbyes and hugged a lot of people. He asked me what happened, if I was okay, and put me into my car. He said I was better off not there, as it was obviously not good for me. He was kind and gave me a hug and waved me off. That was the best sendoff, to know that I had friends there, and that people were rooting for me. I kind of wished for them that they could leave too, because none of them looked happy there, either.
I shook my head as I drove home, and I cried. I still felt like a total failure.
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Vanessa, this is a good thing. You were miserable at that job, and who wants to work for a boss who is that seedy? Really! He had no right to comment on how you should handle your husband’s job search efforts.
If you had enjoyed your job even just a little, you might have found it more palatable to leave the kids and go off to the office. But you didn’t enjoy it whatsoever, which made you all the more resentful of missing time with your children. You are NOT a failure. You got out of a situation that wasn’t right for you. Not all jobs are right for everyone, no matter how badly you might need the money.
It’s admirable to want to stay home with the kids. But I believe there will come a day that you will be happy to go to a job you find somewhat—or even entirely—fulfilling. Until then, exhale. Nothing is insurmountable. NOTHING. And at least you don’t have to kowtow to that kind of boss anymore.
Find the silver linings. They are everywhere.
Thanks for writing such an open, honest blog. Auto sales has always seemed like a pretty brutal business—not just the job itself but the work environment. Nothing against auto salespeople (really) but it seems to take a very aggressive and competitive personality to succeed. This would not be an environment I would look forward to coming into every day.
I have read every one of these “working Mon’s Diary” entries and each one has been more boring than the last. I certainly won’t be clicking on any more of these. I have given up any hope that they would be interesting or entertaining. Bring back Paul’s compost heap video editorials. Those were at least funny at times