Yohannon (yohannon) wrote,

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How To Appear Not to Burn Bridges whilst Nuking a City

So, now for the REAL reason I haven't been posting much lately.

Much like bunnybutt I was avoiding jinxing myself. I also, pure and simply, was finding it hard to talk about ANYTHING outside of the subject I couldn't talk about without it relating back to it at regular intervals. In other words, even if I had been successful in avoiding slipping it into a journal entry, I would have established enough negative space to give the whole thing away.

I suppose I should start with the ending, go right on through the beginning until I read the middle. Eventually I'll stop.


Over the past year, my experience as a Mac Genius has been both full and enriching on a multitude of levels. However, recent events have led me to the inescapable conclusion that I would be happier pursuing other interests, particularly after the recent denial of my request for accommodation under the ADA.

As such, I am formally tendering my resignation as a Mac Genius, effective 5 PM Friday, July 22, 2005.

I am grateful for all I have learned in this unique position, and wish you all success and the luck you most deserve in all of your future endeavors.

Best regards,

John J. Halbig*

* I was sorely tempted to finish it off with "Former Mac Genius", but I decided that was just a bit TOO obvious.

While working for Apple I forbore discussing my job overmuch here. It's simply not the smartest thing, which is why I always admired poetryslam's courage in coming right out and talking about some of the more savory bits of mass stupidity he has to contend with as a phone support engineer. However, now I can finally start to tell the stories I dare not... until now. Expect it all to come out in bits and pieces as seems appropriate... or not. It is MY journal, after all.

So the beginning part is about two months ago. I was thinking that I was about past done with the retail thing, and not happy with the way they were responding to my requests for an accommodation was going (as you may have surmised from the letter, it was to turn out VERY badly, though I didn't suspect that then). Ironically my intent wasn't to do a serious job search quite yet, merely to make myself feel better after a very bad day. I decided, as a lark, to narrow my search using DICE all the way down to all the tech jobs to be found in Alameda.

There was this one ad that sounded... well, intriguing. I decided "what the fuck" and applied, remembering Michele's sage advice:

Seeing the job isn't applying.
Applying isn't getting a phone call.
Getting a phone call isn't getting an interview.
Getting an interview isn't getting an offer.
Getting an offer doesn't mean you HAVE to take the job.

This not only removes a great deal of pressure from the anxiety of applying, but it also reminds me of the simple fact that none of the above happens if you don't apply in the first place. Sort of like the classic joke about Hiram praying to win the lottery, in which our hero begs god to win the lottery, offering to build temples and help the poor, until finally god answers: "Hiram, meet me halfway... buy a ticket!"

Now, this had to have been some time after 1, 1:30 AM, because that's when people depressed about their jobs are up haunting the job boards, and wondering "if a resume is e-mailed to /dev/null did it ever really exist?" and other heady philosophical conundrums. This will be important in a later part of this post, so try to make a note of it.

Anyway, I completely forgot about it after a day or so. This is an uncanny ability I developed during the three years I was posting resumes sometimes at a rate of two dozen a DAY. If I didn't tune out the thundering silence the availability of one Yohannon on the open job market produced, I would have completely imploded from the sheer weight of the humiliation. As it was, as long time readers (or at least those with way too much time on their hands) know about my struggles regarding my self worth and esteem during that time all too well.

So I was stunned when I got a voicemail in early June from the company. They wanted to talk to me.

Things at work were getting stickier. My request was getting the brush off, with a lot of passing of buckage and corporate ass covering to boot. Look, just tell me you won't do it, and give me a good reason why. DON'T insult my considerable intelligence by creating poorly constructed logic bombs in policy speak that I could defuse before you ever utter a word. Important management tip, kids: Never leave your carefully handwritten notes (the better not to leave an electronic trail, my dear!) where I can even get a brief glimpse of them. To be fair, my vision is obscenely good since the Lasik surgery, so I can read things from 6 feet away. I also read really, really fast. I would have chalked it up to carelessness, but she managed to do it every time thereafter.

The worst part was how BORING it made the meetings. It was like going to a movie, and the trailer reveals the ending before it ever starts. Oh, and the sadistic theater manager has decided you all must suffer for his lack of a love life by locking y'all in, taking some small comfort at this petty act of tyranny over his small, meaningless fiefdom.

They basically told me that it didn't make "business sense" to grant the request. Mind you, it was worded based on the job description, and I knew that it would result in a much happier Yo and better metrics for the store, but that would have been too simple.

Thus I was happy to call. And they set up an interview for the second week following the cal, which was... June 10.

At the time we thought Lilly was going to be early. She wasn't due until the 26th, after all. We all NOW know she was a stubborn little girl, and had to dragged forth on the 6th.

Thank goddess, he had to postpone.

The interview was Thursday, June 23. It went pretty well from my perspective then. The hiring manager had me set up a second interview for June 28. During this interview process, I got to meet my direct supervisor, who managed to put my interview skills to the test by pointing out that I state, in my resume, that, right at the top of the "Skills" section, I state:

- Clear, Concise, Audience-Focused Document/Content Creation
- Exceptional Writing Ability

No problem, as it's true, right? Except she then talks me into a corner by asking specific questions that lead me to the time bomb, which is that my cover letter, directed at a specific "audience" contained a major stylistic gaffe -- I make a statement in the second paragraph of three that is redundant. Obviously so.

Everybody say it with me:


Yet somehow I made some kick-ass lemonade, and actually made it work for me. I think I knew I had nailed it then, but after the third time we both realized we had forgotten it was an interview and started having a conversation that it hit me: This was my job to lose. Not that I wasn't insecure and fretful the whole time I had to wait to hear.

Now, I should mention that this was the day before I was slated to be off for my trip to Vegas and the BBW bash, and that I had already contracted a stomach flu to go to the previous interview the week before. At least I had a good setup for this one, as the previous two days at work had been HORRIBLE.

I almost can't bring myself to talk about that previous Sunday. It was long, hard, and miserable. For some reason the store had decided to reduce hours the make up for what they had to pay all of us for a mandatory store meeting that ran two and a half hours. A meeting that was completely and utterly useless bullshit on almost every level.

As a result, management had, arbitrarily and without warning, had changed the schedule for that Sunday. Instead of working repair, which I was mentally prepped for, I was instead stuck working the bar. Which, of course, proceeded to get a Black Friday like pounding consisting of some of the most obnoxious, critical customers I had experienced in quite some time.

Several of the decided they didn't like my "attitude", i.e. I was insisting that they stop trying to jump the line with a "quick question". That's right, your question is more important than the three to four people I was already helping, not to mention the half dozen in the queue behind them. Calling it a "quick" one somehow makes it alright, and makes me unreasonable when I try to let you know it's not as quick as they thought, and that I would be happy to talk with them about it after I took care of the customers who had gotten there before them. And yes, I put it FAR better than that at the time.

So, because I didn't grab the knee pads to drop and suck, they made sure to bitch to Dawn, the manager, who then pulled me from the bar to lecture me about bad customer service. Never mind that the real problem was being overwhelmed by a bar full of people, and the second genius who was SUPPOSED to be there as backup wasn't because of their dumbass meeting.

I also mentioned that a big part of the problem was feeling a bit jerked around by the sudden changes, whereupon I was curtly informed that the changes had been included in the weekly schedule for the store posted a few days earlier. It turns out they considered the Genius schedule, which was one of the few things to improve over the past year by finally giving me almost a full month in advance to plan a life around, merely a "suggestion", and that it could and would be changed as business plans/needs dictated.

Which meant, when the dust cleared, that I was right back to not knowing from week to week exactly when I would be working. Which was a direct kick in the crotch when you realize that had been one of my requests in the accommodation request. A more consistent schedule, or at least one far enough in advance that I could adapt to it.

I always acknowledged that shit happens, and that I might have to adjust it someone was sick or otherwise unable to come in. I was really willing to compromise with them. Unfortunately their idea of meeting me halfway was to chop off 90% of the road, and then meet me halfway through the remainder. Essentially the only things I got were things that they were doing, or planning on doing, anyway.

Right before Vegas I decided that I was going to push the request further, so I sent Dawn a request for the specific reasons for the denial, point for point, in writing. I think that set off some alarms in HR, because CYA went into high gear.

While in Vegas I found out my perspective employer had hit up two of the three references, which meant they might make me an offer, or at least I was on the short list. As it turned out the hiring manager called on Friday to ask me to forward the a couple of additional references, as Guy hadn't gotten back to them as yet.

Fortunately I had the number of one possible handy, so I call and left a voicemail asking if I could use them. I dropped Michele a voicemail to ask for her help in getting me in touch with another. The first contacted me on the drive home (in the middle of the Mojave, go figure!) on the cell to let me know that it was more than fine. Michele managed to catch me as we drove north out of Bakersfield that the second had come through as well.

And come through they did (note to self: Buy them dinner!).

When I went back to work Tuesday, it was realizing that my retail days were very probably numbered. So, when I found myself being called into the managers office to be told that I was being dinged for excessive tardiness (which was ballsy considering how many times she had been late in getting the store OPEN in the morning, me sitting on the front bench for upwards of 30 minutes at times), the careful documentation of which contrasted bizarrely with the assertion that HR "didn't put that sort of thing in writing" when she immediately, during the same meeting, discussed my request for the reasoning behind the denial. Instead, she pretty much repeated a lot of the same vague miasma I had gotten before. I was starting to see a disturbing pattern to that.

Yeah, starting. I really do need repeated whaps by the clue-by-four, folks.

On Wednesday, the next day, I got a phone call offering me the job.

Suddenly I had my nights and weekends back. Holidays. A blessedly quiet environment free of the constant babble of noises that would drive even the NON-ADHD members of the human race quietly mad. And, almost incidentally, the most money I will ever have made. Yes, more than even garage.com.

No, I didn't serve notice then. I know better than that: I wanted the actual written offer in hand before I would pull the trigger on resigning.

That Friday, Dawn pulls me into the office: They'd decided that I had to be given a "final warning" that reads like an invitation to leave or sue. It actually says that, in order to avoid possible termination, I was not to be the recipient of any more complaints from either employees (actually that should be singular: The only person complaining about me was Patrick) or customers.

The fellow retail drones, past and present, know what a setup to fail this is. After all, there are people you can't make happy, no matter what you do. People who literally walk into stores looking to fight, or convinced that they should be entitled to exceptions to the rules of the company, the laws of the land, and common sense itself.

I think she was surprised when I asked if it would be okay if I took it home to read it over before signing. She also seemed flustered by both my calm smiles and the fact that I wasn't defending myself.

She actually tried to tell me how they would hate losing me, and wanted to work with me... well, essentially it was all the same bullshit she had been feeding me all along, empty promises that were never fulfilled. If she meant it, it meant that the document was being forced down her throat by HR and her district manager. Otherwise, she was lying to my face, and all of the sudden write-ups were a deliberate paper trail to make me look as awful as possible if there were ever, say, a little discovery action.

The offer letter was waiting for me when I got home after seeing Candye Cane and Big Burlesque with Roni later that night (she wasn't performing as she couldn't rehearse, being in Vegas with me).

I wrote the resignation letter 10 minutes later.

Now, re-read it if you can stand the scrolling up and back. It really IS "Clear, Concise, Audience-Focused Document/Content Creation" at it's finest, including several carefully worded digs and one outright declaration that I damn well knew what was really going on. If I was thinking it was a case of stress induced paranoia, it was dispelled by some interesting conversations with fellow employees that revealed that management had recently had a very large wooden object rammed so far up the roof of their mouths had splinters.

It's way too late to finish this as well as I might have, but needless to say, I'm incredibly lucky, and I want the universe to know I know that. This job is a gift. Actually, I wasn't lying -- being a Mac Genius stretched me in a lot of ways that made me better at being a person. It's just that I wasn't meant to be stretched quite that far quite that often.
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