Confessions of the Professions

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The Opportunity

Posted by Confessions of the Professions in Confessions

Matthew Gates


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There are many opportunities in life and where one door closes, another opens. When the opportunity presents itself, you either take it or you miss out. You have to do what feels right and what you know is good for you. Every job you get will try to take advantage of you unless you stand up for yourself and understand how business actually works. There are many companies and bosses who forget that the employee is an asset to their company and see them as just a worker. Once this happens, the employee has a choice: Deal with it or move on.

When you begin working for a company, there is a mutual relationship formed in which you agree to work for the company and the company in return will pay you for your labor and your time. The relationship is great until one party is no longer mutually benefiting. While the agreement to continue receiving money for your labor is fine, there comes a point where the employee becomes more advanced in their field or becomes unsatisfied with the job and wishes to leave. There are many who do not have the choice to leave. There are many who are stuck in the same position for years. Unless the employee is granted some type of further compensation for his or her work, they are likely to look elsewhere. Unfortunately, sometimes the latter is necessary. And when the rare opportunity comes to leave that company for another, because a better opportunity arises, it is sweet.

I was working a computer desk job entering data, marketing, programming and coding for different applications, and doing web site design and advertising for the past year, making way below what I should have been getting paid. Before that I had been unemployed for a year so I was desperate and willing to take any job that came my way. I knew that when I applied for the job, I wasn’t as qualified as I should have been, but within a few months training, I would be right on board to do anything I needed to do. So I appreciated being hired. Everyone seemed normal around the office, though a few warnings led me to believe that there was something seriously wrong with the boss. I thought nothing of it and continued working. After all, I really needed the money.

For several weeks, the boss would come in, check on me, see what was going on. Everything seemed normal and did not seem to bother me at all. I figured he was just doing rounds since I was new and checking up on me to make sure I was working. It became routine where he would come in, ask me for a report on the status of what I was doing, and then he always would give me some advice, or talk about his days in college, thirty or forty years before, as if it meant something. After a few times, it became the same old song and dance, an arrogance of how he was better and smarter than everybody else and how he would show up to class just on test days, take the test, and pass. Good for him.. I knew people like that.

This actually carried over right into his business practices. It did not take me long to realize he was a micromanager, looking over my shoulder every half hour or so. Even after I would get done telling him what I was working on for the day, he would still have to come over and confirm it. He was quite a stubborn boss and owner. He began to ask me for advice and would shoot it down immediately or critique it and make it his own. If you’ve ever seen, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” the best advice I could give you: Come up with an idea, tell them about it, and either let it sink and and they’ll come back to you with their own critiqued suggestion that seems to contain parts of your idea, but never take credit for it, let them take the credit, and they seem as happy as ever.

Well, this is just how ideas and suggestions for changing the company around for the better had to work around the office. Every idea was the boss’ idea or else it wouldn’t get done. We learned how to work this in, and it was two of us that really worked the magic to get things changed that made more sense. At first, he was against everything even though all we were trying to do was help his business out. If he’s making money, the thoughts were that we were going to make money. And we did make his business profitable. I did get a raise after three months of training, which was great. I had been content for over a year, but I had done so much, learned so much, and brought in so many new customers with the help of another co-worker, I started to feel like we were being taken advantage of for all the work we were doing with no more incentive except to just do the work in order to not deal with a temper tantrum.

He would put his employees down if they could not argue with him or have a conversation that involved agreeing with him. They were made to feel dumb and he would often yell right in front of everyone. It got to the point where everyone would just agree with him to get him to go away. I had adopted this similar technique for dealing with him. He thought of everyone as weak and even when it came to his customers, he always said that they had a third grade intelligence level, and this made him happy. But in his defense, some of them actually did. He never wanted anyone around the office to be friends or talk to each other. He wanted us all to be against each other. But this never seemed to go according to his plan. We all talked to each other about the job, about other stuff, but mostly about the things he said to us or did to us.

He really never said anything bad to me in front of my face. I learned how to deal with him quickly by letting him always think he was right or just agreeing with him. I thought I was actually the winner of the conversation or argument if I could get rid of him in five minutes and not see him for the rest of the day. Those who argued with him or did not agree with him had to put up with his temper tantrums, fits, and outbursts longer.

We could always know what he was saying about us because he would go and tell another co-worker about the other, and that co-worker would report the story to us. It’s just the way it was. We always knew the things he said behind our backs. I had heard from several other co-workers that he thought of me as a “weak guy who needed to grow a pair.” He even said this to me when I refused to call a co-worker a bitch to her face during a conference meeting. He thought I would join him in saying it. I refused.

He had something to say about everyone. No one was exempt. He was the big man and everyone else was a child to him. In fact, that’s how he always seemed to talk to us, like children. He did have some vision for me or some expectation that I apparently failed in his eyes. He wanted me to be like him, bossy, reporting gossip around the office to him, creating drama, but really, I just did not care to do that. Gossip or not, there was nothing to come of it except office enemies. And if you spend 40 hours in an office per week, you certainly want it to be the most enjoyable experience since the only other place you really go is home, where so many other exciting things are happening.

But really, the job wasn’t hard at all, and I just wanted to make my paycheck and go home. I liked the job, but he just made it miserable. The only bearable part of the job was that I liked the people I worked with and the fact that there were certain aspects of the job where I could be creative.

Ever since I had gotten the job, I was always seeking other jobs just incase something better came along. I appreciated having the job but knew it was not my long-term destination, and hoped there’d be something better. If it ever came along, and sooner or later, something was to come along.

I thought I would use the new job as leverage in order to negotiate a higher salary for a raise. I saw the job listing, sent an email for an interview and received an email back that they wanted to see me immediately. I scheduled for the next day and went for an interview. We discussed the job, what I knew, and the pay which was far more than what I was currently making, and then I told them I would just need two weeks to quit my job.

It took me several days to think about how I was going to approach my boss and tell him. After all, the new job opportunity was my leverage. Wasn’t it? But the opportunity to get out of my current job was far more appealing than to stay and deal with the bullshit of the boss. How much money was he going to pay me to continue to put up with his shit? Would he even give me a raise? And was it even worth it? Only because after I negotiated a new salary, how long would it be before I wanted another? And what would I have to do to get it? I hated going to work and being miserable. I don’t mind working, as this is just an inevitable fact of life, but if I am going to be somewhere for about forty hours a week, I may as well enjoy being there.

After much thought, I went into his office on a Friday, and told him I was putting in my two weeks. I thanked him for hiring me and told him that I was going to move on because I had found a job that offered me the opportunity to pursue what I was really interested in. He asked me how much they were offering and I did not think it was his business to know. I wanted to see what value he would put on me in order to keep me. He said he appreciated me working for him. On Monday, he called me into his office, and offered me double my current salary, which was quite a bit more than what I would have been making at the new job. I told him I appreciated the offer and would think about it.

It only took me another day or two to figure out what I needed to do. I thanked him for his time but told him I was still content with pursuing a different path in my career. I moved on. He said some words that I really don’t care to repeat, but I already knew he wasn’t going to be pleased. He always seemed to think that he could buy his way with money and that everyone had a price.

Unfortunately, no price he offered was going to keep me dealing with his bullshit day in and day out, numbing myself to his comments, behavior, and the way he treated his other employees. At first, I had my regrets for leaving so suddenly, but it took me only a few days to get over my old job and begin loving the new one. After all was said and done, I technically got my opportunity to move on, get a raise, and find joy in the work I do, without a micromanager standing over my shoulder. From the moment I walked into his office to deliver him the news to the moment I rejected his proposal, I was grinning, knowing that I had been granted an amazing opportunity.

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