My plan last time I checked in – the one involving quitting work to become a SAHM – didn’t work out quite so well. Like, not at all.
It took a bit longer to finalize things with the transfer of our old house (June 2013), which meant that we didn’t move in with my mother and grandmother as scheduled, which meant that I had to go on working in tech support (when I wasn’t on sick leave) to make sure we had enough to cover childcare expenses. But, I found out by eavesdropping in the break room (hey, at least I admit it – and, really, can it be called “eavesdropping” if I was at the complete opposite of the canteen and the geniuses held their conversation at a level to be heard over the TV and shenanigans from the call floor?). So, it was stated that people in supervisory/management positions were deliberately looking up Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, blogs - anything written by employees - to see if they were complaining about work.
Now, I’m relatively behind seeing that people are releasing damaging information and quietly addressing it. Like, if Chef had checked MySpace to see if people were talking about being stoned while on the job, I could kinda see that because, let’s face it, more than one person would have done just that. But, the blind testing described in the canteen? It extended to people just bitching about having to listen to callers cuss them out without recourse. Now, yes, in the past we were granted a little room by some supervisors to disconnect a call after four or five personally-directed F-bombs from a customer. Likewise, if a customer threatened to harm us personally, we could inform them that we were disconnecting the call for security reasons and please call back.
Then the powers that be decided agents could no longer deliberately disconnect a call for any reason, except to call the customer back immediately following a dropped call or to troubleshoot their phone system. This followed the introduction of the “resolve everything on the first call” initiative, largely directed by a meeting where-in a lovely bar chart indicated that too many resources were spent addressing issues it was felt could have been handled in one session. Now, when questioned what percentage of those calls was due to irate customers calling back because they had been disconnected for safety/security reasons or because the customer had called back on their own because, for example, the agent had told them their issue was not eligible to have expedited case resolution, it was relayed that the analysts had determined those calls did not warrant a large enough portion of repeat entry calls to require an exception. Ideally, we were supposed to immediately connect those customers with someone above our pay grade. If we're going to be honest here, we weren't supposed to let customers hold our line hostage, but if there wasn't a superior available (and believe me, I had a running record of screenshots where there wasn't a single person available) you basically just had to sit and listen to abuse until the caller either gave up, or someone finally became available.
I’ll throw my own experience out. In the years I worked for the company, I’d disconnected a call for profanity less than five times, and I think only twice for a personal threat. However, I had witnessed people trying to accost employees leaving the building, or even trying to force their way in, multiple times. The fact that the company had decided protecting its employees’ safety and rights to human decency (as some people perceived it) massively pissed people off. When most of us signed on, there was no clause about having to sit and listen to Joe-with-the-Entitlement-Issues dehumanize us. It was attempted to argue the change in requirements fell under agreeing to work in a changing and flexible environment, but you can only dress up being a dick so far. Then the company wants to hold people responsible for bitching about their jobs. That’s almost as nuts as expecting a woman who is deeply in love with someone, marries them, then one days finds her spouse is beating the shit out of her and calling her a whore, to keep her mouth shut and not tell her friends and family. Almost.
I usually make it a rule not to mention fellow employee or company names directly, anyway, but I didn’t trust my supervisors (well, one supervisor in particular) not to go off and running through my profiles.
So, I let my pages fester. I could pull off laziness being the cause of their demise easier.
While muddling through, I began to experience massive pain in my shoulders when I was touched (later diagnosed over a year later as fibromyalgia), but searing pain in my right leg was ever present. Like, “there is real danger of losing bladder control” kind of pain. I was initially supposed to be out for just a few weeks while I was on PT for IT band syndrome, but it turns out the painkillers (that didn't help, anyway because it wasn't an IT band issue) triggered a depressive episode, and I ended up out for about seven months. Great from the standpoint of avoiding office drama, but lousy when your short term disability is denied and work threatens to cut you loose. So back I went, not really 100%, but knowing I needed one last push at some money for my son’s first year in Pre-K. I was back for about a week when a couple higher ups asked, rather bluntly, why I hadn’t promoted in all the years I’d been there. Well, gee, do you guys remember the hiring freeze that’s been in place since the recession started? If there are no openings, where would you like me to go? Aside from Hell, I already work there.
But it turned out that the ban on new positions had been lifted, even if the selection was mostly limited to supervisor positions in a department I loathed. As one of the supervisors I “gelled” with pointed out, any interview would be good practice, and no one said I had to accept if offered the new position. Off to interviews I went, trying to learn the easy, smooth confidence of Patrick Maitland.
Just a couple of weeks later, my grandmother passed away. It was exactly one week, to the day, that I took her for a physical and bought her a wheelchair. It was also about three/four weeks after I went back to work, which pissed off some people who felt I shouldn’t need more than the three days of bereavement time that was standard to get my family's shit together. Well, let’s face it. My bipolar swings had reached the point where I would be out of work for three months or more while I waited for the depressive or hypomanic swing to pass. My mood stabilizer had never prevented them in the first place, but I did notice they lasted longer after my second son was born. What happened next was inevitable, really.
After working thirteen-hour days multiple times a week for OT, hypomania from really set it. I went back out, after less than three months actively working, I think. HR asked when I expected to be back, and I gave them a timeframe I said I thought should be in the ballpark. Well, it turned out I was wrong. My doctor said I would be out for probably twice as long, if not more. And I don’t blame the company, per se, for cutting me loose when you look at how often I had been out. I did, however, find it illogical to cite, as one of the reasons for separation, that the timeframe my doctor quoted was much longer than what I had quoted. I get that I’ve been bipolar for quite some time, but I’m still not the medical professional who actually knows the expected time needed for the prescribed medications to begin leveling things out. Partly because it’s a bit like spinning a prize wheel to see what treatments we’ll try this time, and partly because, and I think I mentioned this, I’m not a medical professional. Seriously, who believes that going to the patient and getting a guesstimate on recovery time is wise? Anyone?
So, that chapter of my life ended. In the interim my family has had some japes, scrapes, and misadventures that I now feel far enough off the company’s radar to share again.