November 10, 2000
The Little Secra Who Cried *Wolf*


I quit my job on Wednesday morning.

I called up The Human Resources Director soon after I got into work that morning and requested an emergency meeting with her. Five minutes later I sat holding a crumpled Kleenex under each eye -- to blot the tide of melting Maybelline -- and sniffled that I "just can't doooo this anymore."

"What did he do this time?" she sighed.

I played back my morning voicemail messages for her: Franz honking phlegm into his cell phone. Franz snarling invectives into his cell phone. Franz chewing food into his cell phone. Franz calling from the San Jose Airport at 9:30 p.m. the previous evening, screaming because I wasn't picking up my voicemail messages from home. (For the record: I have never ever ever "picked up my voicemail messages from home." Nor will I ever. When I leave the Totem Pole Company at 5:45 p.m. every night, I am gone. If he wants an on-call SecraTerri, he can hire Della Fudking Street.)  I showed the HRDP the new stack of cancelled meetings/cancelled medical appointments/cancelled flight arrangements sitting in my In Basket: untold hours of my *blood, sweat and phone call molecules* down the tube again. I recited the usual litany of complaints: he's rude, he's inconsistent, he's stubbornly unfocused, he refuses to let me organize him, he has me spend hours setting up meetings and appointments and then he either blows them off or else he cancels them at the last minute ... he treats people like shidt and then tells them it's MY fault ... he's got breath like the bottom of a diaper pail ...

And then I quit.

"I'll turn in a letter of resignation by the end of the day," I told her. I said that I would give thirty days' notice -- plenty of time for her to hire my replacement. Plenty of time for me to be involved in the training of my replacement, if desired.

(Plenty of time for me to find a new job before they turn off our electricity. I hope.)

She was sympathetic, as always. "We're going to hate to lose you," she said. "But you know he's never going to change ... and maybe this is for the best." And she gave me a big hug, and she promised that she would provide glowing references to any potential employers, and she told me to come see her if there was anything else she could do to help.

An hour later I was back in her office.

"I've been thinking it over," I said, "and maybe I'd better hold off on submitting that resignation letter." I said that with the holidays coming up, it might be smarter to postpone my leap until after the first of the year.

She gave me a sad and knowing look that said I knew you'd be back.

One of the best e-mails I've ever received, on the subject of job-hunting. I'm printing it in its entirety, in hopes that it might be as helpful to some of you as it was to me:
" ... I started to write a long blabby 'go get 'em, and here's how' email about your job situation, and then thought better of it - maybe you've heard all the good advice in the world already.

But. I read through your archives a month or so ago and the thing that struck me is that you've hated your job since you started. It sounds like you stay because you're overwhelmed by the thought of looking for something else.

So the jist of my advice is this: pretty up your resume (put in a 'skills' section, and subdivide it into things like Software, Internet Skills, that kind of thing) and make sure you get every keyword that a recruiter might use to find you in a search, and put it up on and That's pretty much the full extent of the effort you'll have to put into it, aside from reading email.

They're both just big resume search engines. Recruiters go on and type in three or four words that apply to the job they're hiring for, and generally send an email to every resume that comes up in the search, without actually reading your resume. You'll probably get a lot of feelers for jobs that are nowhere near what you're looking for, and you just ignore those. But do that for a week or two and just get a feel for what comes back. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

The thing about changing jobs is this: you should always do it at the end of the year, not the beginning. Usually, if you start a job as late as Dec 30, you'll still get all or half of your sick/vacation leave on Jan 1, with the remainder in 6 months. People who are leaving jobs often wait until the end of the year to leave, so they get their 4th quarter bonuses. Most will give notice at the beginning of December, some a bit earlier. You're coming up on the best time of the year to find a job. Just put your resume out there and see what happens. Most jobs now don't have much hang-time between first day and first check anymore. Your first check will probably come at the first payday after you start, although it may not be a full check, you're still not likely to have to go without a paycheck.

You're way too cool to be suffering so much dread about your job. Someone out there will be thrilled to have you working for them, and will treat you accordingly. At least make yourself available so they can find you. You deserve it."

[Thanks, Lyn.]

She is absolutely right, of course. I do feel 'overwhelmed' by the thought of looking for a different job. (Frankly, I would rather spend a weekend trapped in a leaky pup-tent with Franz, Celine Dion and both of David's parents than launch a full-out job-search right now.) That's one of my excuses for staying, anyway. But there is also the fact that I love almost everything about my job, and that it's hard to give up all the stuff I love -- the money, the people, the prestige, the autonomy, the free Uniball pens, the groovy view of the Tribune Tower -- just because my boss is a raging nutcase.

(There is also the fact that I am trying to accumulate enough paid vacation time for a fudking honeymoon. But that's another story for another day.)

I think what pulled me back from the brink of quitting this time, though, was David, and not wanting to do anything to screw up his upcoming court hearing. I called him right after I talked to the Human Resources Director Person -- I was still a quivering, gibbering basket case, at that point -- and I told him the exact same thing I'd told her: I just can't do this anymore.

Like the HRDP, he's heard this a bazillion times before. Like the HRDP, he was calm and supportive.

But I don't wake up next to the HRDP every morning. I wake up next to David. His happiness is my happiness. He is under the career pressure of his lifetime right now, and if he asks me please to consider holding off on any major career changes for another few weeks -- or to at least have something lined up before I make the leap -- I am more than happy to comply.

(Well, that's not true. I'm not "happy" to comply. I feel like screaming when I wake up in the morning and contemplate coming to the Totem Pole Company. But I'll comply. And I won't complain about it ... except here on the website, which he doesn't read anymore anyway.)

In the meantime ... I'm going to continue doing what I've been doing all along: looking, looking, looking. I look for a better job every single day. (I know I don't always write about the fact that I'm looking. But then again I brush my teeth and pick that fuzzy stuff out of my navel every day, too, and I don't write about that all the time.)  On Lyn's advice, I tossed my résumé onto the and sites. (For good measure, I also threw some stuff onto  After the initial rash of blanket responses from employment agencies and temp services, I've started to get a heartening trickle of legitimate inquiries from "real" companies. (Not that I have anything against employment agencies or temp services. I just don't want to go that route yet if I don't have to.) I had a phone interview today -- with a software company in Alameda -- and if everything works out, I might have an interview-interview next week.

So I am cautiously optimistic.

And who knows? Maybe the next time I tell the Human Resources Director Person that I'm leaping ... I might actually mean it. And I might even have a net ready.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

P.S. Due to circumstances beyond our control -- read this: we are outgrowing our current ISP --  *FootNotes* is going to be looking for a new home on the Internet soon. Any thoughts? Ideas? Anyone wanna adopt us?  Let me know. We come equipped with our own Happy Panda Toasters.

throw a rock