May 2022 – Life Update

I have wanted to write for a couple of days now but nothing felt significant enough to warrant its own post so…general life update it is.

A Tale of Two Workplaces
– My new boss continues to grind my gears. During our weekly 1:1, he passive-aggressively complained that another staff member and I take notes during the virtual staff meeting. What? He said it means that the staff member and I are, “Looking down at your screens and typing instead of looking at me.” Okay, really? I have never been to a staff meeting where taking notes was discouraged but…okay. I could try taking notes by hand instead of typing so that I can look at you while you are speaking. So, the next staff meeting happens and I am taking notes by hand while this man sends emails, while other people are speaking, which I know because he sent an insignificant response of “thanks” to an email thread on which I was included. Beyond this casual passive-aggressiveness and hypocrisy, he is also exceptionally entitled and treats many of our funders like “atm machines.” That is a direct quote from a conversation with our largest funder.

I am passively job hunting.

University B is currently convening a search for my replacement and I have been told that the applicant pool is strong, but there are significant differences between who my former boss and my former colleague, to whom this new hire would report, want to hire. They are both right in their own way. I have been somewhat saddened by my impending departure from the role but many of the challenges that I highlighted are still there. My former boss said he is committed to seeing changes but I have little faith changes will manifest. My boss is still recovering from a medical event and is now expecting his first child. I think the long-term, strategic thinking that would be necessary for changes to happen is not something he is fond of doing and is even less likely to happen given all that is happening in his personal life. I wish him and the organization the best.

$$$ Out – This has been a weird month with money where sometimes I am unsure of exactly what is happening. First, I paid a fine for the lapse in the registration of my vehicle. This was entirely my fault. I most recently lived in a state where car registration was for two years and after I purchased my lease in December 2020, I assumed my registration would need to be renewed in December 2022. Wrong. It needed to be renewed in December 2021, and in March I got a ticket for my registration being out of date. At the registration office, they said they had sent me a reminder to my home, however, they send it to the address listed on the current registration, which was completed by the car dealer, and listed the apartment that flooded. Ugh. So now a $25.00 registration cost me $25.00 and a $160.00 citation AND a $13.00 credit card processing fee. Ugh.

However, what was far, far more annoying was the tango I had with my car insurance company. So when I was pulled over for the lapsed tag, the officer also stated that I didn’t have insurance. Ummm…I most certainly do. He then said I needed to contact my insurer because they had failed to register it with the secretary of state. So I called them and had to keep calling them while trying to get my car registered the next day because the state would not allow me to register my car until the insurance binder was sent to them. Finally, this was taken care of and I assumed all was well…but no. You’ll remember that I recently refinanced my auto loan. Well, as a part of the refinance, PenFed asked to be listed as a lienholder on the policy. Totally reasonable. Unfortunately, this is not a change you can make online and I had to call my agent to get them to make the change. And, I needed to do this rather quickly or PenFed would insure the vehicle themselves and make me pay for it. It took more than a week for my agent to finally get back to me with a quote. I responded immediately and said, “Great, please send me the updated binder.” Nothing. I had to call and call before the administrative assistant sent it to me. Fine. Once again, I thought all was well…again, no.

On April 28th, I receive a bill for a very small amount instead of my usual policy amount. I sent an email to inquire why I was billed for this amount. The administrative assistant then emailed me back to say that on April 6th, someone had placed a note on my record stating that the vehicle had been “junked” and that the policy needed to be suspended. What? I spoke to you on April 18th when you provided me with my insurance binder. How could you have done that for a policy that had been suspended? Have I not had auto insurance since April 6th? Who placed this note? How was there no obligation to contact me by phone or in writing about this change? Her response, over and over, was, “I understand. I don’t know.” She offered to call underwriting but I thanked her for her time and told her I would just get another agent. I called another agent with the same national agency and they helped me formally switch agents. He is still trying to figure out what happened and how much I will owe on my previous and new policy. Hopefully, this is resolved this upcoming week.

Dating – Dating has been wild. My current dating experiences probably warrant a separate post but I will share here that I believe that Gentleman Avery and I are at our final impasse…for me. We can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. At different moments, I find that I feel like the worst sort of female cliche. Another post…

Home – I am growing increasingly itchy to find a place of my own. I think this feeling has been exacerbated by time spent with my best friend in her own house and the cooling housing market (it was ridiculous in my city but we are finally starting to see houses sit on the market for a bit longer and price reductions). I am very reluctant, and have yet, to turn my attention away from aggressive debt repayment toward saving for a down payment.

While some of this feeling is definitely that I live in a 10X11 room and want more space, I think some of it is debt repayment boredom. When I was hustling back in the day (so…last fall), each gig I worked served as a reminder of what I was working towards and it helped to keep me focused. Now, I am still hustling but it feels different and I only see progress once a month. Before I turn my attention away from aggressive debt repayment, I am going to try and find inspiration to stay on track…

$$$ In – The specialized extracurricular activity that I have previously mentioned is resuming this summer. I have been offered an evening educator position with a camp and will take this on for two weeks in June. I have set the camp start date as the deadline by which I need to have completed all of my reporting work for University B. I will still technically be employed by them until the end of June, and will likely work for them a bit, but juggling my full-time job, active work at University B, and this part-time camp role is not something I am prepared to do at the moment. The camp role definitely pays more than I make at University B for two weeks so if I don’t work for them at all during that period I would still be further ahead financially.

10 thoughts on “May 2022 – Life Update

  1. Oh man, your boss sounds unreal (in the worst possible way). I’m glad you’re starting the passive job hunt now while things are still ok. It’ll give you time to weigh your options so you don’t end up settling for a job out of desperation that may not be the best fit for you.

    This camp role sound really profitable. Is there any possibility of you being able to keep doing the camp role whenever there’s opportunity once you’re no longer with University B?

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    • He is something else…exactly. I have yet to pull the trigger on any applications because leaving this role means I would likely need to work at colleges and universities which would mean giving up being remote. I really don’t know that I want to do that…

      The camp role is pretty great. And yes, I would be eligible to work for them even after I depart University B at the end of June.

      As always, thank you for the support, Avery 🙂

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  2. I had a new job once that started with a bottle of booze in my desk drawer with a post-it note that said “you’ll need it.”
    The strange, sometimes disturbing sometimes hilarious issues at this position has were too many to list, but when it came to meetings, the manager demanded what we called “ego props.” The only way to get anything done was to distract with something. Kind of like preventing a toddler melt down. So we’d create a problem we knew could be fixed, but would take about an hour, then go about the meeting while the obsession and eventual success happened.
    I can’t take credit for this, but at one point a tech-savvy person who really needed to get in and out of a meeting- some went on for hours if he didn’t feel “heard”- programmed his keyboard to play those sounds made by the three stooges when they would smack each other. It was done just loud enough for him to hear, but so quiet that we all had plausible deniability at to any noises.

    Sometimes I think working within a university system is an alternate universe in which the rules of the outside world are found confusing and well… too much trouble:-)

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    • WOW. That sounds like the absolute worst. May I ask how long you “stuck it out” in that role? The challenge for me right now is that if I were to leave this role, I would likely have to return to colleges/universities and it is a hot hiring moment in higher education. Any jobs that are posted right now, they want to get hired before the fall so they are moving a bit more swiftly than usual. If I am really interested in something I should apply…and I want to…but I really don’t want to give up remote work and my otherwise lovely colleagues. Part of me would like to try and stick it out for a year so that I might have other opportunities when I leave besides higher education as I will have demonstrated some tenure in my role and have some accomplishments of which to speak.

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      • I stuck it out for four long years. however, about midway, this situation reached such a ridiculous level that the boss actually wrote in my job description that I was responsible for giving him feedback on his anger management skills. At that point, I figured I could stick it out, because with that amount of absurdity in writing, I felt like I’d be ok going forward. Eventually, another department that I’d become friendly with offered me a stipend and fellowship to finish my masters and I spent the last year in that town just being a grad student.

        At one point though, I was dreaming of a job without constant stress and drama. Also, I had moved to a town where I knew no one for this job so I was also isolated. I actually was applying to work at bookstores to have some time to recover from all this, but of course, I was overqualifed and no one would hire me. At the end of five years, I took my newlly-minted masters and drove to the big city. Got a job and an apartment within a few days. It was a calculated risk because the job market was pheonomal at that time and I also had no debt at that point.

        I’m still here. All my stupid financial decisions were to follow. Or at least most of them.

        As for the itch to go independent, I’ve often thought it’s time for more goals. The feeling of losing time when paying off debt is real. What you are losing is a lot of time to invest or work toward other goals. I ‘ve experience many times in a bad job that once I have an exit plan, it doesnt’ bother me as much. Every day I walk in is just, now, a day toward a better goal.

        And also, that’s such cheap debt you have with the benefit of being deductible interest. Maybe time for an escape account running alongside it?

        Also, having lovely colleagues and a remote schedule? I don’t know that I’d give that up. It’s 3 out 4 for you- salary, colleagues and schedule. Be hard to guarantee 4/4 going forward.

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      • “…this situation reached such a ridiculous level that the boss actually wrote in my job description that I was responsible for giving him feedback on his anger management skills.” – What HR manager and legal department allowed him to put that in writing. The transition to being a graduate student must have been amazing…

        “I’m still here. All my stupid financial decisions were to follow. Or at least most of them.” – This is a story I want to hear. For what is not the first time I ask, why don’t you have a blog?

        “The feeling of losing time when paying off debt is real.” – I don’t know what to do with this…this feeling…

        “Maybe time for an escape account running alongside it?” – This. I’ve already decided that I needed to add a savings line to my budget. It doesn’t need to be a large one but it needs to be something.

        I think you’re correct. I don’t know that I’d find 4/4…but I also don’t think I’d weight the four equally…

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  3. But more importantly, I’m really really sorry that the excitement of moving in to this new position went down this path. But you’ve always been so articulate about the issues you’ve had at both positions, that I have to hope you will find a place that appreciates that.. and LISTENS.

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    • Me too…eh. The Wizard (my best friend) has had several terrible bosses and several great ones. However, like C, I’ve never had a really good boss. It has me itching to work for myself. I think I need to think about this a bit more.

      In any instance, thank you for sharing and your support Paula. It is very much appreciated.

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  4. Oh man, I too am sorry about the excitement draining so quickly 😦 FWIW, I think you should try to make it a year or a bit more — I don’t feel like you want to go back to higher ed, really, and you’re right that a year in this position will make it a lot more plausible to seek out other nonprofit work. Possibly the boss will be slightly easier to deal with once you’re not also working at the university still? I mean, he’ll still suck, but you might be a little less tired and more able to shrug it off. // I have no idea if this is a helpful comment or not, but I’ve been thinking about a dynamic I’ve noticed with bosses where they’ll complain about things for what seem like crazy reasons. I personally wouldn’t complain about a thing at work unless I was *really bothered* by whatever was happening. My threshold for voicing that feeling is fairly high. So I feel like other people must also be really bothered by whatever they’re talking about. But recently I’ve started thinking that maybe some other people (particularly bosses) don’t really care that much, or haven’t thought it through how it’s going to land, at all. They just voice whatever they’re thinking, without assessing how the other person is going to hear it. I feel like this makes them kinda bad people, so that’s not great, but on the other hand, it might also mean I have to take their complaints less seriously. Like, what would happen if you just kinda shrugged and kept taking notes because that works for you? Would he fire you? Would he even *notice*? Nah.

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