Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Getting Out While the Getting's Good

There comes a time in the workplace when the handwriting is on the wall and it’s written so large, management is unable to conceal it with strategically placed potted plants. Two weeks ago, the Executive Vice President in charge of our entire division was marched out of the building by Human Resources, clutching a cardboard box of his personal possessions, glowering at the indignity.

This is a man who controlled the working lives of hundreds of employees, scattered in offices from coast to coast, and whose gross mismanagement of product development had finally come to the attention of people who are labeled his “superiors.” Never mind that it took them 4 years to notice that he spent millions of dollars on the development of a product that he decided to abandon. Never mind that they allowed him to spend millions more on the purchase of a non-exclusive license to another product to replace the abandoned product. Never mind that they allowed him to spend further millions buying another company without securing the executive team, only to have them resign and form a new company in direct competition.

Morale has plummeted to an astonishing low, valued employees are bailing out left and right, and they’re not being replaced. Instead, their duties are simply being reassigned to the remaining stressed and overburdened staff by management intent on showing a good quarterly financial statement to investors. They’ve cut their own throats by pissing off the few diehard believers left in the company.

So I sent my resume out to test the water before the Bush Recession hits in earnest and companies stop hiring. And I got a bite right away. A headhunter called me, and set up a phone interview with a company less than a mile from where my current employer is located. The phone interview went really well, and they called the headhunter within 15 minutes to set up a face-to-face meeting.

I showed up in my nice suit, only to discover that the office is casual dress every day, unlike my stuffy current job, which is “business casual” except for Fridays, when casual clothing is permitted, and all of the managers force themselves to wear dry-cleaned jeans with dress shirts and polished loafers.

At first I met with two product managers, who were friendly, outgoing and helpful. We talked for a long time. They seemed more interested in finding out if I was smart and personable than whether I was educated and experienced. They wanted me to meet with my prospective boss, but I asked if I could use the rest room first, my bladder nearly bursting. One of them led me out of the office suite and pointed down the hallway. “Turn left up there,” he said.

I rushed down the hall and turned left, only to discover a service cart outside the Men’s room, which was being cleaned. I’ve worked in lots of different places, but Florida is the only place I’ve ever worked where the facilities are cleaned during the time people need to use them. More than once at my current job, I’ve had a Bran Muffin Emergency when I found the rest room being cleaned and had to race down the stairs to search for an unoccupied stall on another floor.

Because I was unfamiliar with this building, I didn’t know where another rest room might be located. So I was forced to stand, dancing and wincing outside the door to the Men’s room, listening to the painful sounds of running water and flushing toilets, until the attendant emerged. By the time I returned to my interview, I’m sure they were wondering if I had been involved in some kind of freak urinal-related accident.

The remainder of the interview went very well, and today the headhunter informed me that they’re making a formal offer this week. I’ve accepted verbally, and I’ll be changing jobs on St. Patrick ’s Day.

I’m very nervous about it, but for no good reason. The new job is with a global company, headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. The benefits are fantastic, the compensation is superior, and they start their employees with 3 weeks paid vacation. No wonder the bathrooms are kept so clean.


Anonymous said...

Tim, that is great news!!! Congratulations!!! Hey, next time you see the cart outside the restroom... do what I do: I walk in and say I'm having an emergency and need to use the restroom immediately. The staff always politely leave and wait for me.
Is it a Clark Curse? I swear this always happens to me at the worst time....

Tonya....(love ya...) said...

better yet... do what I do and take a seat in your favorite stall and start belting out that favorite alka-seltzer classic...

Plop - Plop
Fizz - Fizz

Oh what a relief it is....