November 17, 2000
Fork-in-the-Road Time


11 a.m.

We looked at the offer letter over dinner at El Torrito last night.

David was impressed with the stock options. "Wow," he said. "This is a real company!" As opposed, I guess, to a podunk engineering firm whose idea of a *retirement plan* is handing you a Hallmark card on your last day and saying, "Enjoy your retirement, OK?"

Jaymi, on the other hand, thought the employee pet insurance option was cool. "Damn!" she said. "I wish they offered us pet insurance at MY office!" She and Joel recently spent an arm and a leg and another leg getting her kitten neutered and declawed.

Both David and Jaymi were impressed with the four-minute commute from our apartment, the 20% 1-800-FLOWERS discount and the free employee breakfast every day. In fact, two-thirds of the people sitting at that dinner table last night were convinced that I should take the job.

The other third sat there quietly playing with her cheese enchilada, not saying much.

It's clear to me that I've reached another one of those fork-in-the-road places in my life, and even though other people can offer opinions ... when it comes right down to it, I'm the only one who can make the decision.

What isn't clear to me yet is which way I'm supposed to go.

I knew I was going to be offered the Groovy New Job. I knew it two minutes into the interview on Wednesday night, when the Potential New Boss said "Is 'divisionalizing' a word?," and I replied "It is now," and he laughed. It was a real laugh, too -- not a polite chuckle or a fake guffaw or a nervous twitter, but a real, honest-to-goodness laugh ... not so much because what I'd said was all THAT funny, because it wasn't, really, but because we'd just enjoyed our first *connection moment.*

At that instant I knew the job was mine if I wanted it.

The next morning the Groovy New HR Department called me and said they'd made a mistake: the starting salary for this position is substantially less than the Potential New Boss had offered me. "I'm so sorry," she said. "You made such a great impression at the interview, too." I told her that I understood, and that I know how these things happen, but that I would have to remain within my specified salary range, and that I enjoyed the chance to interview for the company, and that I hoped they would keep me in mind for any future opportunities, and blah blah blah blah blah.

Twenty minutes later she was calling me back to say they were prepared to offer me the position ... for the starting salary originally proposed.

The only problem? They want me to make a decision RIGHT NOW.

I don't mean at the end of the day today, or first thing Monday morning, or before the Thanksgiving holiday. I mean now. Like, this very minute. Like, I shouldn't even be sitting here typing this sneaky journal entry ... I should be signing the offer letter and putting it into the fax machine and writing my resignation letter to Franz RIGHT NOW.  No time to "think it over." No time to wait for the absentee ballots to come in. No time to call my mom in TicTac, or to consult my personal astrologer, or to draw up a careful and detailed list of the pros and cons. No time even to flip a coin.

The decision needs to be made RIGHT NOW ... and I am the only one who can make it.

Stay tuned.

      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

3:11 p.m.

Well ... I turned it down.

I know it probably sounds insane. I know that there is going to be a buttload of screaming e-mail waiting for me by the time I wake up tomorrow morning.

(I know that I have permanently forfeited any right to complain about Franz, here or anywhere else, ever again.)

What can I tell you? It was the right thing to do.

Not necessarily the smart thing to do, or the ambitious thing to do, or the feel-good thing to do  --  I cried when I faxed my letter just now, declining the offer  --  but the right thing to do, for me and for a whole bunch of people I love, and for a handful of people I DON'T love but who figure into the scheme of things anyway.

It was just happening too fast. I wasn't being given any time to think. I called the Groovy New Job people this morning and said, "I would like to have the weekend to think about it." I'd just received the offer letter last night. I felt like I was being rushed through the process. I wanted to talk to David some more, and to the Human Resources Director Person here at the Totem Pole Company, and to my ex-husband, and to my children. I wanted to go online and learn a little more about the new company. (I was told nothing about the position when I interviewed. Nothing. "I can't tell you anything about what you'll be doing," said Potential New Boss Guy, "because I've only been here for a couple of weeks myself." For all I know, I could wind up watering a whole new dwarf schleffera.) I wanted to figure out what impact this would have on finances, and on the holidays.

I just wanted some time to THINK.

But the Groovy New Job people said "No, sorry, we need to have an answer by 3 p.m. today."  And then they wanted me to start immediately. No time to give proper notice here at the TPC.

I just can't make a decision that fast ... especially about something this important. That's how I wound up as Franz' assistant in the first place.

So I agonized over it all day long, and finally I faxed the declination letter. (Is 'declination' a word? It is now. Hahahahaha. Fudk.)  I said, After careful consideration, I must regretfully decline your offer of employment. Although I know I would enjoy working for Acme Computers, the timeframe is proving to be problematic for me, both professionally and personally. I have therefore decided to postpone any major career decisions until after the holidays. I sincerely appreciate all of your efforts on my behalf, and those of Mr. So-and-So, and I wish you and your organization all the best.

I faxed the letter, and then I came back here to my desk and shut my door and put my head in my hands and cried like a big stoopid baby for about ten minutes. After I was done crying, I wiped my eyes and shredded the fax and went back to rescheduling Franz' doctor appointments for the next six months.

No lectures, OK? And no "advice" right now. (From anybody. About anything.) Trust me when I tell you that nobody is more heartbroken about this than I am. I'll get over it, of course, and in another few weeks when the stoopid goddamn fudking holidays are over with ... (Santa: Now THAT'S the spirit!) ... I'll start looking again for real. As Jaymi reminded me on the phone a few minutes ago, at least now I know how easy it's going to be, finding a better position.

But for right now the only person I need kicking me ... is me.

two years ago: paging david

throw a rock