I almost accepted a job a few months back that on the surface seemed like a good opportunity but as I de-coded the fine print I realized it was not. I would be managing a well regarded small business, which happens to be owned by a famous actor. I know, I know. Sounds exciting. And I was excited. I was also honored to be considered for the somewhat prestigious position, but I didn’t want to lose sight of my needs, so I attempted to gather more information to ensure the job made sense for me practically and financially. Read: I am not a twenty-something or even a young thirty-something that can gamble with time, and I am already behind the game if you gauge by tangible measurements. I will note that I may be ‘ahead of the game’ in other more subtle ways, like developing a solid internal foundation and moving through issues that were holding me back, however I definitely did not want to take another wrong turn: I have had my fill of lessons learned from missteps, if you catch my drift.
So I asked for more information and in turn I was given vague promises and fluffy encouragements (“yes, yes, plenty of room for growth!”) that felt good for a minute until I realized I had received a whole lot of nothing in the way of information (i.e., no details). What did this elusive growth look like? I would be working for a small business so a career path was not obvious, especially because I would be filling in for the current Manager who was going on maternity leave. Would she be returning? And, if so, what would my role look like when she did? Would I be assisting her? In what capacity? It was a mystery. The side of my personality that likes to please others and not be “too much of a bother” accepted, albeit uneasily, the non-specific answers. Hm, as I write this I am reminded of our friend, The Donald: fluff with no specifics. I digress.
So I was feeling increasingly unsettled about the idea of changing my schedule (e.g., dropping classes I teach, leaving a well paying part-time office job) for an “Interim Manager” position (the contract was for 4 months) that, although more aligned with my career path, was, basically, a big question mark. In addition to the uncertainty, I would need to work a 6-day/week for a fairy low hourly rate (definitely not, in my estimation, a Manager rate in an affluent area for an experienced worker and, from what I hear, what Mcdonalds now pays). I would also be on call in this position, meaning I would need to check emails from home and be on top of things when I wasn’t working, since I would be the main and only point person (apparently the part-time staff had all left). On top of that, I discovered that I would not be paid for teaching classes and private sessions, which would be a requirement and was a major factor in my acceptance of the job (I thought it balanced out the lower hourly rate and would offer me the opportunity to consolidate my classes). AND (rant almost over) I would not even be paid for classes/privates if I taught them outside of my allotted work hours. I have to stop here (if anyone is actually still reading and following) to say WHAT?
This revolting development obviously sealed the deal; it had come up in a round- about way through a question I asked about managing payroll and at this point I was 3 or 4 weeks away from the start date. That same day, I noted that someone who had worked there part-time as a desk-person/receptionist was making more than my “manager” rate. Sure, the person had probably been there for a couple of years and received raises but, still, this did not sit right with me. The Managerial position entails a lot of responsibility while the desk-role entails a fraction of that (essentially greeting and checking in students).
So what is my point? Why bother to write about this? To answer my own question (don’t mind if I do) I think I felt compelled to flesh this out because in the past I have said “yes” to situations that were not supportive of me; and to be frank, some that were wildly inappropriate, but that’s another story. I have compromised my values and needs at times to please others or try to make something work that is entirely unworkable. Saying “no” to this position wasn’t easy because I felt I was letting someone down and I knew I’d be cutting ties with this person by doing so. But say no I did and I said it boldly. I will admit that I may have written, ahem, a somewhat rambling email that could have benefited from a bit more editing but it was also honest and real. And after the initial distress/drama of turning the position down — I had already trained for a few days (no pay offered for training days, by the way)– I felt stronger because I had turned away from something that was clearly not right for me, i.e., not worthy of my experience, background and the level of dedication I would have brought to the position. And it wasn’t that old, familiar feeling of escaping something I didn’t want to do, a way out rather than a way though (a hard learned lesson); instead, it was a deep, knowing that I had taken care of myself, something that does not come all that naturally to me (my fellow Vatas will understand). So, yes, it was kind of messy and I wished I had given less wiggle room (i.e., benefit of the doubt in response to vague answers), saving us both time and energy, but we learn from each experience (well, that’s the idea anyway; sometimes it takes several of the same experiences). I’ll try to be more aware next time I am offered a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.