May 23, 2002
Five Percent

I'm 5% richer than I was an hour ago.

I'm also 5% more job-secure and 5% more intolerably full of myself, thanks to my brand-new 5% pay raise.

JoAnne took me behind closed doors an hour ago to give me the happy news. "Based on your performance review last month," she said, "I recommended you be given a five percent salary increase." The raise has already been approved through Corporate -- it was effective three weeks ago, according to the paperwork -- and the first new-and-improved paycheck should be landing in my poor malnourished checking account at 12:00:01 a.m. PDT tonight. (I figure if I drink lots and lots of coffee this afternoon, I might even be awake to see it land!)

"God, JoAnne," I said to her gratefully. "Thank you so much."

Thank you for the raise. Thank you for the nice performance review. Thank you for the job. Thank you for being a such a great boss, and for proving that there is life after Franz, and for validating my theory that it's possible to have a healthy employer/employee relationship. Thank you for never leaving used dental floss in my *In* basket. Thank you for never calling me 'imbecile' or 'nincompoop' or 'Tammy.' Thank you for never addressing your comments to the middle button on my sweater.

Thank you for not having a goddamn dwarf schleffera plant in your office.

"You're quite welcome," she smiled, handing me the acknowledgement form for my signature ... and then she burst into tears.

Hold the phone. What's going on here?? My stoic and unflappable boss, weeping like a nine-year-old shut out of the tetherball game? Aren't *I* the one who is supposed to get all weepy and emotional during the Kodak Moments of life?

I handed her the Kleenex box, utterly baffled by her reaction, and sat quietly waiting for her to compose herself.

"Whatever you do," she sniffled finally, "don't let them talk you into taking my job."

You know how sometimes you can hear bad news approaching before the bus has even rounded the corner and run over you? "Are you going somewhere?" I asked carefully, trying not to betray any sense of alarm.

She looked at me in genuine surprise. "I thought you knew," she said. "I've been asked to 'find employment elsewhere.'"

Um. No. I didn't know. In fact, I couldn't have been more surprised if she'd just announced that she and Franz were opening a Taco Time franchise in Oakland, and that they wanted *me* as Head Burrito Assembler.

"No, I wasn't aware of that," I said.

I knew that she and Armand have been butting heads more frequently than usual, as of late. I knew that there was a horrific blow-up between the two of them last month: something to do with Armand's "If It Ain't Broke, Let's Break It Anyway (And Then We'll HAVE To Fix It)" approach to management. I knew that JoAnne was unhappy. But no one told me she'd actually been asked to resign.

And no one told me I was being considered for *her* job.

"Scott is going to be approaching you about it sometime in the next few weeks," she said, blotting the runny Maybelline from the end of her nose. "I would strongly suggest that you think twice before you say 'yes.' " JoAnne knows my history. More importantly -- JoAnne knows Franz personally. She knows what I've been through, just to reach this nice healthy place of personal and professional equilibrium.

And she understands how important it is to me that I stay there.

I told her that I wouldn't make any decisions about anything without thinking it over very carefully, and without talking to her about it first. "I don't want your job," I said. "I want my job, with you as my boss." This seemed to cheer her up a little, and a few minutes later I left her office and went back to the front desk and got back to work on my soil density reports.

I'll have to admit: I may be 5% more flummoxed and confused than I was an hour ago.

But life just got about 5% more interesting.

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~ nil bastardum carborundum ~

some say love is blind
but i think that's a bit short-sighted.