Monthly Archives: October 2020

Have You Ever Been Fired?

Have you ever been walked out of a job?  It’s a pretty awful feeling.  I knew it was coming—it was a fast moving freight train, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  About 18 months previous to this date, my most favorite boss of all time retired, and my most unfavorite of all senior level managers was his replacement.  We were oil and water.  He had a PhD in Physics.  I think he thought with a PhD, he knew everything about everything.  He even had the nerve to tell me one day that he thought have an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) was a wasted and meaningless college degree.  Yes, that is my degree, and he knew it.

The freight train started off slowly, but I knew it had started.  I was part of the Senior Management Team, and the only woman in management at this company.  We were a fairly cohesive group, although I related best to our CFO (Chief Financial Officer) and my former best boss ever.  From the time Dick became my boss (name changed to cover his identity but one that fit him well, if you get my drift), he started putting a wedge between me and whatever I was to accomplish.

One day he asked me to do a report on demographics of our company.  I made a beautiful PowerPoint presentation for our next management meeting.  I presented gender, age, ethnicity, education, everything that would tell you about the demographics of our organization.  It was presented to him, our team, and our dotted-line management at headquarters in California.  We discussed it as a group, and we moved on to the next topic.  Six months later in my annual appraisal, he dinged me for not reporting our demographics.  I pointed out to him that I had indeed run this report and presented it several months earlier in our staff meeting.  He then said, “I wanted a 30 page written report.  Everyone who works for me knows that.”  Really, because I didn’t know that.  I had never in all my years in Human Resources ever been asked to write a 30 page report.  I was dumbfounded.  

So the freight train was moving.  I could feel the vibration of the ground as this train was gaining speed.  I think I heard the whistle blowing.  I think I needed to get off the tracks, but I had only so much time to find a new track to go onto.  I heard the clickity-clack, and it’s getting louder.  

In the meantime I was brushing up my resume.  I had been at this company almost four years, and now I thought I needed to leave.  By the way, if you never noticed, the higher up in a company one is, the less places one can go from there that will be equivalent or better than in their level and pay.  You know, there is only one CEO in a company—if that person needs to find a new position, there are a lot less opportunities for a CEO than a first line manager.  Therefore, the job search takes longer, and is a bit more difficult.  

A few months went by, and Dick asked me to recruit a summer intern for our company.  Okay, I could do that.  What were we looking for, what was this person going to do, what were we going to pay this person, and what kind of opportunities will this candidate have to be hired after the internship?  I knew that these were important considerations for a person from across the country to have answered in order to come for a short term assignment.  Dick wanted me to find a PhD candidate, one with a specialty in the industry we were, and preferably from the University of Florida because he liked their program.  No, we will not consider someone from any local state universities that might be PhD candidates with this expertise.  I did my research through our corporate office about their internship programs and how they compensated.  This company was very generous with the pay and also with help for temporary housing.  I had my ducks pretty much in a row to start the recruitment, except for the big questions—what will this intern be doing, and what is the future for this candidate?  I went into Dick’s office to discuss these two very important items.  His first answer really surprised me—no, we would not be offering a permanent job to this person no matter how good they were.  Dick’s goal was that this candidate would be so enamored with our company that when this intern went to a permanent first job after attaining the doctorate, they would recommend purchasing our products because we were so great. It was a marketing ploy from the start!

That surprised me, but not as much as the answer to the next question.  When I call these folks and tell them about this opportunity, they will ask me what kind of work will be in this internship.  Could I get someone from the engineering department to help me put together the internship program so I have an answer for them?  Dick looked at me with a straight face, and stated that he wasn’t giving up any of his engineers to do this, and no, he didn’t have time to help me on this.  I was supposed to call this candidate and say we have this really great opportunity for this summer, you will really like it, and it will be great experience.  Of course, they will ask what their duties will be, and I just say it will be great, and you will love working here.  Where is a job description?  Why would a PhD candidate be interested in a job where they have no idea what to expect?  It was crazy.  Dick was serious.  He was not going to give me any assistance to figure to what a PhD candidate in Photonics would be doing in designing products within the laser industry.  Dick set me up to fail at this task.  No help, no job description, no idea what this person would be doing.

These were the kinds of issues that kept cropping up in my face the 18 months I worked with Dick.  There were times in between that things seem to run in a normal comfortable pattern.  Also during this time, our company was audited by Homeland Security, checking to see if we had properly documented the employees’ eligibility to be employed in the United States.  We passed with flying colors.  All documents were in order and correctly completed for each and every employee.  Then I was also audited by the Department of Labor (EEOC).  It was an unusual audit because they weren’t looking for gender identity or racial mix, but looking to see if we were hiring disabled people and accommodating them legally.  Once again, we passed with flying colors.  These were not simple audits—I had to give these government agents access to what they needed without giving access to the privacy of the employees.  Dick just ignored the fact that these two very important audits passed with flying colors.  At my annual appraisal it was never mentioned that we had a human resources manager successfully complying with all the state and federal laws.

It was so obvious that this boss was not going to give me credit and/or respect for anything I did.  We had our weekly senior staff meetings, and the one following Independence Day, Dick decided to ask the team members what they did over the holiday.  One guy became a grandfather for the first time, one went skydiving, and as Dick moved around the table, he asked each one of these men individually.  After they all shared their holiday adventures, before I had a chance to speak, Dick stated it was now time to start the meeting.  Weeks later I asked him if he remembered that he bypassed me on that friendly conversation.  He acknowledged the he indeed had skipped me because he didn’t want to know what I did.  

I have a feeling you are now hearing the train speeding up, chugging along, and it’s whistle blowing.  It’s getting louder . . . it’s getting close, but I cannot tell how close.

I met Dennis on a dating website. We started out communicating by email, then moved to telephone calls.  I was busy with my job, and some company traveling.  He was busy with his mother, who at that time was 93 years old.  We didn’t have a date to meet until the day after Thanksgiving.  It was a nice day spent together, but I am not sure either of us were swept off our feet, but we both agreed we needed to meet again, so Dennis came back the following Sunday.  I told him that day the I was going to have a meeting with Dick first thing Monday morning, and I think Dick was going to fire me.  This sweet man (Dennis) said he couldn’t see that happening.

The next morning Dick decided to meet in my office (bad sign).  He walked in, shut the door, and handed me a letter and said as of that moment I was no longer an employee of this company.  BAM! I was hit by the freight train—I didn’t get off the tracks soon enough.  I can still feel and hear the sound of the crash, but it doesn’t hurt like it did that day.

Dick had listed in the letter some of the reasons he was terminating my employment.  The first one was that when I went to a business meeting in California, and it abruptly ended a day early, I had not returned to work on Friday.  Well, we were told if we could get a last minute flight at a reasonable price, go ahead and go back home on Thursday, rather than Friday.  If not, stay with our previous travel plans on Friday.  Well, I had requested (in writing) to have Friday as a vacation day, and my plan was to fly out from Los Angeles to Phoenix that Friday morning, and then return to Missouri on Sunday.  I couldn’t quite change all these flight schedules (I was paying for my private part of the trip).  My three day vacation in Arizona was to attend a memorial service for the spouse of my cousin.  As soon as I read this in the letter, I reminded Dick that I had written approval for a vacation day on Friday.  He admitted that he forgot he gave me the vacation day.

The next thing on this list was the fact that I never hired a summer intern.  Really?  How was I supposed to hire someone with no job description?  He knew that I requested help to pull the program together, and he refused to give me a person or even the name. There was no internship program to hire someone.

There was more to the letter, and it was pretty much a rambling.  I was glad to leave my employment there—or should I say, I was glad to no longer work for Dick, continually trying to figure out what he wanted from me.  The target was always moving. I had a boss who didn’t respect the work of Human Resources.  In the past, I had always been part of a team that worked together to build our business with our employees.  But not with Dick. 

I sent Dennis a text message and told him that Dick had indeed fired me.  I also told Dennis that if he didn’t want to see me again, I would understand.  He called me and asked why I said that.  Dennis was a retired CEO  of a railroad (haha—a railroad—hear the train coming?), and I figured that he would think I must have done something really terrible to be fired.  He said he would like to continue seeing me, and he knew a lot of dumb CEOs!  As you know, the rest is history!

It was tough being let go a year before retirement age.  It was tough being let go and not being able to leave on my own, telling coworkers goodbye and having closure.  I was also president of our local HR association in St. Louis, and I was afraid they would lose respect for me.  I was wrong about that also.  They were most supportive.

It took a long time to get through the feelings of being let go.  There was no closure.  I was in a career that I loved dearly.  Even today I can fall into HR-speak quite easily.  I have done a few consulting jobs since then, but decided I no longer wanted to do that.  I loved what I did.  I was good at what I did, and Dick cannot take that away from me.

What I really didn’t see coming was a train on the other track.  When, BAM, I was hit by the freight train of firing by Dick, a train was coming down the other track with with Dennis as the engineer, and he swooped me off the track and into his train!

Over the years Dennis has said he wanted to call Dick and thank him.  Thank him?  For what?  My sweet husband would smile at me and tell me that had I been working like I had been, we probably wouldn’t be together today, because he was looking for someone to spend time with, to travel with, and to just enjoy retirement.  Because of what happened to me, I became eligible to apply for the job of wife!  Sometimes I don’t understand hardships I am going through until later when I look back.  I can now see how God allowed this to be so that I could have a wonderful retirement with a wonderful man.  

I wrote in a earlier blog about the struggle I had when I thought I searching for that new position to get off the track with the freight train charging toward me. Go to the post dated March 1, 2018 to read.  But, God said, “No.”  Thank you, Lord, for knowing what was going to give me the next new and wonderful life.  

I have not shared this with the general public since this happened in late November 2012.  This weekend I was with a former colleague from my HR professional group, and her friend, who is still in her HR career.   My friend brought up my termination from Dick.  She actually thought his name was Dick, and we laughed when I corrected her, because she thought he was deserving of such a name.  I realized I was able to talk about what happened almost eight years ago without being sad or angry.  It just was what it was, and I have a beautiful life to live today. 

It is time to celebrate that I am just where I am supposed to be today! 

I’m Back–No More Silence!

I realized I was quiet the month of September.  It is unusual for me to be quiet.  No thoughts, no words, no memories.  It was a hard month.  I was so desperately tired of politics, and it seemed to be in my face.  I was still at our Missouri home with a sales contract that was about to expire.  I was not going places like the past because of Covid-19.  It was just a hard month.  

Life, as we knew it, has not been the same since early March of this year.  We sheltered in place in Arizona.  We washed all our packages from the grocery store.  We were washing or hands every other minute.  All I could think about was getting back to Missouri to see our children and hope they were healthy.  

We weren’t sure how to get there in the midst of a pandemic, and having a three day trip where we didn’t want to stay in hotels or eat in restaurants (if any were even open).  Then Dennis got a stroke of genius.  He decided what would work is to purchase a travel trailer that was small enough that his car could pull it.  The only stops we had to make were for gas, and RV parks along the way.  If the RV parks were full, we could boondock in a Walmart parking lot.  

We found a trailer in April, and asked the dealership if they could hold it for a month so we could just pick it up when we were ready to leave for Missouri.  It was quite an adventure.  Our trailer was small, but had a love seat that fold down to a queen size bed, table with two reclining chairs, and a full bathroom, although a small one!  It had a ton of storage, so we were good to go.  We did find that the 2 recliners were pretty useless—first the bolts fell out of them on our first few hundred miles of driving, and the seats were too low for the table.  We have since replaced them with 2 regular chairs, and it was a perfect solution.

We made our way to Missouri, and parked the trailer in front of our home—our home is in the country, so there are no rules about parking a travel trailer.  We made a couple trips into the St. Louis area, and stayed several days at an RV park.  We could visit family without having to stay anywhere but our own place.

Things weren’t much different in Missouri than Arizona.  While Covid-19 was raging through the state of Arizona, it had not yet hit hard the middle of the state of Missouri.  Because it hit hard in the city of St. Louis, visiting our kids was limited.  They were wearing masks 24/7 outside their homes.  They were wary of us coming from the hot spot of Arizona.  

My grandkids ended their school year doing online classes.  My grandson who was a freshman at the University of Missouri, moved back home to finish his classes.  The university was refunding a good portion of their housing money if they moved out.  By June, Jack and his cousin, Niki, were tired of being confined in their parents’ homes, and they ventured their way to mid-Missouri where they stayed with us for almost three weeks.  It was so much fun to have them there.

But, that was not even easy.  A week after we arrived in Missouri, Dennis got sick.  I mean he got, “I cannot breathe sick.”  It was scary.  The really odd thing is that for three doctors’ visits no one suggested he get a Covid test.  Finally, we asked for one and was approved to get it to day the grandkids were to arrive.  I quickly called them and told them to not come until we got the results of the test.  Fortunately, Dennis got the results in 4 hours, and he was negative.  So, I called the kids, and they didn’t want to wait for the next day—they drove out that evening.  I think they really needed a change of scenery.

Their visit was not like previous visits where we went places and out to eat.  We were confined at our home.  The pool was used a lot, they took walks in our wooded neighborhood, an we played a lot of games.  It was a good break for all of us.  Then they went back home, and I needed things to keep me busy.  I started making quilt tops.  I became a sewing fool, but it kept me optimistic, and productive.  I am a project person, and I always need something to keep me going.  

As the summer moved on, the political world heated up.  There were demonstrations, okay, the most of them turned out to be riots.  Cities were burned, people were being nasty to their loved ones for not agreeing on things.  It was ugly.  It made me buy more fabric and limit my use of social media.

I was fortunate to make a couple trips. In July, I flew to the east coast to visit my sister. To my surprise, the airport in Washington D.C. was a ghost town. I had a great time visiting with her and her east coast kids and grandkids. Early September Dennis I drove to northern Georgia to visit dear friends/family. Their mountain home was a great retreat for us. The rest of  September was the low point.  I realized we didn’t see our kids as much as we wanted.  We didn’t see friends and extended family hardly at all.  Our contract on the house was about to expire, and I just wanted to go “home” to Arizona.  We planned our escape back for the first week in October.  It was time to go.  

Our house is back on the market, and we are getting really excellent showings and interest.  It is looking positive.  We packed up the whole house.  There is nothing left but furniture and a few cleaning products.  We traveled back with our trailer and stayed at the same RV parks we used going east.  When we pulled up to our Arizona home, I felt like I was truly home.  That was a good feeling.  We unpacked our trailer and took a couple days to unpack boxes and find new homes for the last of our Missouri belongings.  It feels good to be here.  We haven’t seen any Arizona family yet.  We are still finding our new normal.

The other day Dennis took the trailer back to the place we purchased it for a minor repair.  He said the lot was empty.  We bought our trailer before the everyone decided that was how to travel this year.  The lot was loaded with trailers of all sizes.   A friend of ours was thinking about purchasing a trailer, and when she priced them, they have doubled in price from when we bought ours!  Everyone is on the road with their RV!

So, here we are in Arizona.  Yesterday I took four of my quilt tops to a long arm quilting lady.  No, her arm isn’t super long—but her machine is!  I will continue sewing to keep me sane, and hopefully soon I will get to visit with my Arizona relatives.

Until then—I am back.  We are good.  We are happy to be back home.  Because we are still officially permanent Missouri residents, we voted at the city hall before we left.  Now I can ignore all the hoopla of the elections, and watch for the results on November 3.

Truth & Kindness

Truth . . . is it important?  This political season appears to be about “truth.”  We hear the word “lie” all the time on both sides of the political spectrum.  But, are we really wanting the truth?  And, where does truth come from?

For a few weeks I have been bothered by some statements I read on Facebook.  What is new with that?  Everyone is bothered by what someone is saying during this political time.  I will not state what was talked about in detail.  I see things all the time published that say things about Biden, and things about Trump.  I take them all with a grain of salt.  I am not sure anyone knows the truth any longer.

Anyway, the item on the internet this time was about President Trump.  It was something that they said he said, but taken out of context, taken from a different discussion about something else.  There were several people who were with him at the time he supposedly made the statement, and one of them, who is not a fan or friend of his, said that the president never said those comments.  He was with him that day, and that was a false report.  I tend to believe that when someone, who has no reason to support someone they are opposed, makes that kind of stand.  So, I did something I don’t normally do—I made a comment on this Facebook post that it was untrue, that even his non-supporter said it was untrue.  I was hoping the person who posted this would remove it.  What surprised me was not that it remained posted, but a comment replied to my comment.  Fortunately, it was from a person I do not know at all.  Here is the comment quoted verbatim:  “At this point does it even matter if it’s true? This is exactly the kind of thing he’s known for saying . . . .”   My reply was, “the truth ALWAYS matters.”

Does the truth always matter?  As a follower of Jesus, I think the truth always matters.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life . . . .”  ~John 14:6.  He also said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  Knowing truth sets me free.  I don’t have to live in fear.  There is a freedom in Christ that only those who have their faith in him can understand.  

As I look at what our media is saying, I just shake my head.  How do we know what is the truth?  How do we quit spewing falsehoods because it fits our narrative?  

I don’t listen or read the news very often.  I do listen to what people actually say, not just candidates, but people around me.  What is their source of truth?  Do we just believe something because it feels good?  Do we believe something because that is what we want it to be?  What is your standard for truth?  If it is just what you think is the thing because you like it, it fits what you want to believe—does truth change when you change?  Because we all change over time.  Why should I believe your truth today, and then five years from now your truth changes?  

For me truth is based in Scripture.  Did you know that there are over 5,000 manuscripts of the New Testament that were found by archeologists?  There are less manuscripts by Plato (only 5) describing Socrates (who never wrote anything—and Jesus never wrote anything), and yet people do not deny the existence or words of Socrates.  Interesting, isn’t it?  The gospels were written by eye witnesses to Jesus, what he did and what he taught.  They are from four different points of view, but none contradict the other.  God’s truth never changes.  He doesn’t change his mind.  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

So, as I watch what is happening in my country—the election, the protests, people spouting whatever they believe is happening, I look at it though the eyes of truth.  I am human, and I make mistakes and may not see it as clearly as I should, but my source of truth will not change.  I have something I can rely on.

If I have to vote for someone based on what other people tell me that I should think, I have given my power to them.  Who are the candidates—what did they really say?  You won’t hear the private conversations unless they are on a “hot mic.”  Listen to what they say, not to what others say about them.  Then do your homework.  Did they do what they said they would do?  Our candidates both now have political records.  What is true?  What legislation did they actually put through?  What have they done?  Does it fit what we want to hear or not hear?  Does it fit what is true?  

What is really sad to me is that there are more than 2 candidates running for president, but our system silences their voices.  I believe if you are able to get on the ballots, you should be able to debate.  Why do you need a number of votes before you can be on the debate floor?  The debate is not an election.  Let’s hear from all of them—the good, the bad, the ugly, and the crazies!

Let’s seek truth.  I saw a Facebook post that said our vote is not a Valentine, for the person who we “love.”  We should be voting for the person who we believe will take us where we want to be as a country.  We should know if what we want is based on a truth.

What happened to “agree to disagree”?  Why does someone have to get in my face to tell me what they think of me because I disagree with them?  Some say they did not get in my face, but writing something about how you feel about someone who thinks differently (and it is a judgmental statement) is “getting in my face.”  Why does one have to cry out all their thoughts about what they think of other people on the other side to make their point?  Where is that word “tolerance” — which seems to be in no one’s vocabulary any longer.  

Tell me what is good about your candidate?  Tell me why you think they deserve a vote.  Don’t tell me why you hate the other candidates.  Don’t tell me what you think of me because I don’t agree.  

I pray everyday that we will love one another.  I don’t see a lot of love.  The Golden Rule, which is actually something Jesus taught us, says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” ~Matthew 6:31. Do you want people to disparage you for your beliefs?  Same goes here.  It would be great if we can at least follow the golden rule, and not only treat others, but also speak about others as you wish them to speak about you.  Hmm.  Food for thought.