The Job Experience: Tech Support, Year #3

The Search for Something Else

runaway

Okay, so at this point I knew I needed a change.  Frankly, I wanted to run away from the whole mess.

But what were my options?  It wasn’t like I could just make a mad dash away and things would work out.

I took a look at the facts, which follow.  My net worth was at -25K.  I had $400/mo student loan payments.  Plus I had $1,100 in rent and an expensive lifestyle full of restaurants and convenience to maintain.

Something interesting happened at this point.  I was just about to talk to my manager, Mr. Data, to see if I can do something other than support, even if only for a couple of weeks to get a break from it, when I was moved to another team.  A peer of mine had been recently promoted to management and he was building out a special team of employees which had particular strength in soft skills and customer handling.  I had some of the best customer satisfaction numbers on our team, and he wanted me.

I took it.  Let’s call my new manager Friendface because he was friendly to my face.  I talk to him and thank him for the opportunity, but tell him I’m approaching burnout and am looking for a career step which gets me out of the direct line of customer fire.

To my surprise, Friendface says no problem.

Join my team and let’s do good work in this area for a while.  We’ll tackle some of the trickiest customers and most challenging problems, both technically and politically, and after six months, I’ll work with you and other people in the company to facilitate your career change. 

What do you think about me going into a training role after half a year?

Absolutely, I know you have good skills in that area.  We can make that happen.

I was elated, because I derived real enjoyment from cross-training peers and writing technical documents, and it appeared to be less stressful.

So me and Friendface, we set some specific targets on my performance numbers.  I feel good.  Things are looking up.  I can do anything for six months.  Anything.

I hit it as hard as I can. I want to get out of working directly with customers and this is the path that has opened up for me.  It’s merciless, but I can see that carrot dangling within reach.  I’m still traveling in this role and although I never grew to enjoy it, subsequent trips are not quite as difficult as that first trip to TX, at least partially because of my shift in attitude.  I persevere.  I do nothing but work.  I’m on fire, a machine made of molten metal, blazing through an ocean of problems, leaving nothing but evaporated particles of H2O in my wake.

Six painstaking months go by and I have the review with Friendface.  I mention I’ve met the target metrics and ask what the next steps are to moving me to another role.

The training role has been filled by <coworker>, he says.  We had a need a month ago and addressed it.  We can put you in line to replace <coworker> if they leave the company.  Or if there’s increased demand and a new position opens up in that area, you’ll be the first in line.

Wait, what?  <I’m dumbstruck for a moment and there’s an awkward pause before I find my words again.>  Friendface, you said that we’d make this happen.  I held up my end of our agreement.  I’m expecting more here.

Well, why don’t we wait another six months and see if the landscape changes.  Maybe there will be something else open at that time.

Why didn’t you keep the training position open another month until I could take it?  Or, alternately, allow me to exit this support role earlier so I could make the switch?

At the time, we needed a trainer and <coworker> was available.  You, on the other hand, were not. We needed you at <client>.

Why, exactly, did you pick <coworker>?  And why, exactly, didn’t you let me know you were doing this?  We could have had a discussion about it.

My hands were tied.  We needed someone immediately.  Plus, objectively <coworker> was a better fit for the position because there they held a bit of background in teaching.

I leave the meeting shaking.  I can barely stand up.  My legs are jelly.  I don’t know if I’m angry or depressed or excited or some combination of negative emotions that have congealed into a goopy bacterial soup in my mind.  What I do know is that I met my metrics. It took everything I had but I met them.

And I’d been betrayed.


That night I go out with a few co-workers and tell them everything.  I couldn’t keep the story bottled up — I thought my brains would start leaking out of my ears if I didn’t relieve the pressure.  Friendface needed to be exposed.

After I get it all out, one of my co-workers, the guy I’ve been closest to since I moved to San Francisco, makes a huge reveal.

Dude, remember that Christmas party three months ago?  The one downtown where we all brought our dates?  

Yeah, I do.

Well, his gf broke up with him the day after.  Do you remember talking to her?

Um, yeah.  She was good looking.

Friendface noticed you two were chatting for like more than an hour.  He complained about it to me even that night.  I told him to get over it and if it was a problem for him just go and get involved in the conversation instead of bitching.  But he didn’t listen, he just got another drink and watched the two of you talk.

Wait, so you’re telling me that Friendface is jealous of me?  That he blames me for his girlfriend breaking up with him?

Exactly.

We didn’t even do anything!  I never saw her again!  Holy shit, we were just talking for crying out loud!

He doesn’t know that.

Fuckballs!

Welcome to the real world, where your fate is not decided by you. Hard work is not enough to get you where you want to go, and actually, it’s best to not want to go anywhere at all.   Chomp on that bit and feel the pull of the reins, spurs in your stomach, and the weight of your manager in your saddle.  His whims are the only direction you’ll ever need.

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12 Responses to The Job Experience: Tech Support, Year #3

  1. I still have never read YMOYL. Not sure if I’d get anything out of it at this point, but it’s impressive the number of people for whom that was THE book.

    Financial epiphanies like this, to my mind, are vastly more transformational than any religious conversions (or deconversions, in my case).

    • livingafi says:

      Hey GC, thanks for stopping by. Yes, you could probably skip reading YMOYL because it’s just a reinforcement of things you already know and do.
      If I got my BS in 2009 instead of 1999, I surely would have found MMM’s blog instead of YMOYL. Might not even know what that book was! The internet’s really changed everything… the vast majority of people seek answers to life problems online nowadays. It’s probably for the best –more efficient this way, with search engines and all.

      • Gamergirl says:

        I actually found YMOYL back in 2005, I wish I’d found it earlier, before I went back to school for my masters degree. After I got my bachelor’s degree, I was saving 90% of my income from my job. I thought I was doing something wrong! So I went back to school for my master’s degree. Then I met ex and let him lead me down the path of spending all my money.

        I still love YMOYL and recommend it to people who don’t like blogs.

      • livingafi says:

        I think “I wish I found it earlier” is the number one sentiment from folks who find MMM, EEE, YMOYL, etc. It sure would have helped me in Year 1 as well — although, the counter argument is that people aren’t necessarily looking to overhaul their lives until they’ve identified that they have a problem. It’s sort of like the AA thing: If you don’t think it’s an issue (yet), you’ll never look for a solution. I still shudder to think where I’d be had I not found YMOYL when I did. BTW, super-glad to hear that your spendy and destructive ex is just that — an ex. Without him weighing you down, you’ll get where you want to go for sure.

  2. I’ve picked up bits and pieces from all over, some of YMOYL works and some doesn’t for me (every dollar and every year is not created equal, but I can’t exchange future dollars for earlier years). Probably why I’m still wandering the internet, there are gems everywhere, but no-one source has The Answer. Before YMOYL, I had a ‘Rich Dad’ phase. Although I didn’t want to get into real estate, I did like the concept ‘before you buy a Porsche, buy cash-flowing real estate yield and let your investments buy you the Porsche’. Of course, I dialed it back to a used MiniCooper and a mix of dividends and bond interest, but the general idea was sound 🙂

    • livingafi says:

      Another part of YMOYL that sucks: All investment advice. Completely agree that there are wide differences in opinion when it comes to certain details in the FIRE journey. Some folks like DRIPing, others all paper, some renting, some quit early and find part-time employment just to ‘get them by’ while their initial pile of assets grow. There’s really no single right path and the best thing to do is gather as much data as you can and make an educated decision that works for you. I’m also extremely reluctant to be a landlord. I don’t want the hassle, but some many people on the forums really enjoy it.

  3. Gamergirl says:

    I LOVE this series, and I agree with another poster about the layout being very nice. It is long, but the images and the breakup between pages really aids in readability.

  4. Dwayne Hoover says:

    I really enjoy your blog, and particularly this series. Great stuff.

  5. MilDoc says:

    I’ve been reading a lot of FI / RE stuff for awhile now. Yours is the only blog that I am reading from beginning to end (I came close with MMM though). Your POV just seems to resonate with me the most, though my prison seems much more gilded than yours was. Still, freedom is freedom.

    For some reason, I HATED YMOYL. I sensed there was something to the underlying premise, but the style and diction (it seemed overly sentimental or patronizing or something) made me want to vomit so much, I could not get through it.

    One thing I have noted is that those who “see the light” wrt financial stuff later in life (like myself, though I am not that old but do have a wife and kids) have a more uphill battle with the consumptions side of the equation. It’s not like I can just rip my kids out of their expensive extracurriculars (which easily cost as much as owning an additional unnecessary car) without significant relational and societal repercussions. But there is more than one way to skin a cat…

    • livafi says:

      I didn’t like the writing style in YMOYL either. But I read it for the content and suggestions.

      One of my friends who is my age — 39 — has also been trying to scale back and he is running into some of the same problems you’ve outlined. E.g. Downsizing the house, he will say things like: “Are you kidding me? With a wife and three kids who each need their own bedroom and are used to an abundance of space in an affluent area? Dad will be viewed as crazy and subsequently hated for uprooting everyone.” It seems impossible (although it’s not), and as a result he’s sort of giving up on it. I do see his point of view. It is difficult. People who pretend there is no cost associated with making these sorts of choices are lying to themselves and their readers.

      But there is also a cost in continuing to do what everyone else is doing. These are tough decisions, there’s absolutely no question about it.

      The worst part of the giving up is that he’s going back to his old investment patterns. “Won’t ever be able to have 15% of saved income grow enough in the market with measly returns to enable retirement — need to hit it big” is what goes through his mind most of the time. So he’s doing things like putting money in VIX and hoping the market explodes and buying covered call options… I am aware the entirety of the market resembles one big casino, but that being said, some investment approaches are significantly more likely to result in losses than others.

  6. Vic says:

    Going through burnout right now and I needed this. You are an absolute artisan with words. Thank you so much for writing this account, it makes me (and i’m sure so many others) feel less broken.

    • Mr. RTFM says:

      Keep it up. I re-read his job experience series at least once a year, and recommend it for friends who are looking for a way out, or feeling burned out. His voice really helps.

      I actually just left my job for a higher paying one, mostly because of his posts. If he could manage the Goblin hordes, so could I. by my estimate, this move will shave off about 3 years of my original 15 years to retirement timeline. Hopefully more, when I pay of my mortgage and car in the next 1-2 years.

      The best advice i found in these posts is the daily exercise, after I put in my morning exercise, I found that the problems that used to make me want to vomit, suddenly seem like – if not easy- but at least solvable. On the down side, when I can’t follow my workout routine, I’m just dragging through my day…

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