Hit the Road, Jack

12.26.21

If you remember, in my first post about this journey, I wrote about how much I hated my job, then proceeded to detail the reasons for that. In recent years, I don’t think my wife could understand why my feelings had changed so drastically about the job. I hadn’t really cared for the job for a long time, but until the last two or three years, I hadn’t suffered from the next-day-dread that would poison every afternoon.

Part of it had to do with the job itself. Over the years, the creativity had been completely sucked out of it. I went from being a graphic designer to what I call a graphic technician, just pushing virtual buttons relative to a task, hitting “Enter,” and moving on to the next, one mind-numbingly boring job after another.

In addition to that, I also told about how the young guy who started a couple of years before, and who I trained, subsequently got all the training in the new system that was being implemented in the company, while I did all the daily work. Once the system was workable, I was given a few instructions and told to ‘get to it.’

I mentioned being passed over for a promotion. As I said, it was one I didn’t want, since I already hated my job and didn’t want to add the headache of management and administrative duties to it, but they hadn’t even bothered to involve me in the discussion. In fact, I wasn’t even informed of anything at all about the event until it came up months later and I learned, in a roundabout way, that the young guy that I trained two years before was now the person I directly answered to.

These things, along with a few others, led me to wonder if I was becoming the focus of ageism, that my boss was hoping that I would finally get the point and just leave of my own accord. And I wrote about how, in January, 2021, I got a message from my boss asking me to come in for a face-to-face meeting. During that meeting, he revealed that someone at the company had seen my post, got butt-hurt about it, for whatever reason, and tattled on me. (My words, not his.)

The meeting went very well. I left feeling encouraged. While the job itself couldn’t change, I was assured that he understood not liking a job. He mentioned an issue that I needed to give some attention to, but that the job was mine as long as I wanted it.

Imagine my surprise when, in April, I received an email from him with the subject line, “Disciplinary action notification.” In it, he outlined a long rap sheet of offenses I was supposedly guilty of, three pages, single spaced, and stated that “if this situation doesn’t improve immediately we will be forced to take further action up to and including termination.”

I won’t bother enumerating all the charges in the email, partly because a number of them wouldn’t mean much to people not in the flexographic or digital printing industry, and partly because a lot of them weren’t even true or fair. I let a couple of days pass, to cool off, before I responded to the charges.

In my response, I stated that some of the charges were untrue, and provided proof of why I could say that. Also, I said that “at least half of the points mentioned I didn’t even realize were problems – one or two I don’t even understand – and had not heard of them until now.” They were things that hadn’t even been mentioned in that January meeting, or since. I also said that “I’m certain that some of the issues you have with my work have to do with my lack of training in [the new system]. I’ve had to basically learn ‘on the job,’ so I’m sure there are major gaps in my knowledge compared to someone who had months of direct, face-to-face training.”

His response was that he hadn’t intended to ‘threaten or beat me up.’ Rather, he wanted to make it clear that there were some things that needed to be improved, including “things that aren't necessarily ‘your fault.’” (But I was still disciplined and threatened with termination for them.)

As for my comments about not receiving training on the new system, he called that ‘playing the blame game,’ and that he didn’t want to do that (though he didn’t seem to have any problem blaming me).

Needless to say, after seeing this exchange, Linda had a greater understanding and sympathy for my situation, and saw my boss for the kind of person he really is.

Linda’s newfound realization of my situation moved her to suggest a change in our plans. We had been talking for a year about moving out of the States, to retire in one of a number of countries, including Mexico, a few in Central America or several possibilities in Europe. We had decided on Portugal for several reasons, and had begun focusing on a timetable for getting the necessary documents, as well as getting a bunch of things done around here in preparation for the move.

We were looking at late 2022.

Linda suggested we move up our plans, which is when we started considering going to Guanajuato, Mexico, even going to the extent of renting a home there. Alas, those plans didn’t work out.

Instead, we turned our attention to a few of those Central and South American countries: Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Colombia. We considered them pretty seriously, but we decided that we just couldn’t do it. They were all definitely affordable, but neither of us would be able to tolerate the equatorial heat and humidity.

So, as had been the case so many times in the past, our attention returned to Europe, and specifically Portugal. So, we had a trip planned, a month in Portugal starting in the middle of January, to have a serious look around, not as tourists, but as potential residents.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems. There’s an issue with Linda’s passport, but we’re hoping that can be remedied soon. But there’s also the issue of the latest variant of COVID rampaging around Europe, so again, we’ve had to postpone our plans a bit.

Anyway, since I knew that the warden wouldn’t hold my job for a month, and I didn’t want to come back to it anyway, and since our financial adviser had provided such glowing prospects for us a couple of weeks before, I QUIT! I did it by email since an important piece of information I had been waiting for came after my work hours were done.

I gave a little over two weeks’ notice, but my boss, being the kind of person he is, responded that he accepted my resignation effective immediately. I was now an enemy, a defector. No need to return my key. I was, evidently, untrustworthy now, as the key had already been deactivated, and my stuff was in a box up front. So apparently he’s happy that I finally got the point! I guess I’m a little slow that way.

At first, I didn’t really know how to feel. I’m overjoyed, to be sure, absolutely ecstatic, to be out of there. At the same time, though, I’m a little pissed. I guess somewhere inside I had hoped that, after twenty-five years, my leaving would mean something to someone besides just me.

And I spent the first couple of days kind of depressed. It seemed weird to me, that I would be doing something so stupid as grieving. I know, it wasn’t stupid. It had been a part of my life for a quarter century. So I guess it was natural to grieve the end of a job I hated, but couldn't even leave on my own terms.

It’s too bad about my coworker/supervisor, though. He had vacation time scheduled this coming week.

Our talk with the financial adviser actually included me quitting my job before we go, so we can afford it. In order to apply for residency in Portugal, we need to have established a record of regular monthly income. I know, a job would do that, but this job wouldn’t have been continuing through the move, anyway. I was only too happy to ditch it now and be done with it!

Meanwhile, I’ll supplement my semi-retirement with freelance writing jobs, and I’ll have more time to do it, now. Maybe I’ll be able to start working again on promoting my books, too. Linda still has great faith in their appeal.

And I won’t have to get up while it’s still night-time to do it. It’s not the retirement I was hoping for – yet – but I’m finally able to live my life without feeling that next-day-dread.

From now on, I’ll be able to spend my days just working toward our new life!