Monday, March 15, 2010

The End And The Beginning

If you've been reading this blog at all in the last, oh, two years, you have probably gotten pretty sick of my constant whining about the economy. It goes all the way back to early 2008 when the collapse of the housing market struck out at an unintended victim: the student loan industry. The company Matt was working for, which we all thought was plenty stable (and had awesome benefits), decided to shut down its entire consolidation department because they were actually losing money on the record sales Matt had brought in over the last three years. Fortunately, we got a generous severance package from his company. Unfortunately, we had to pay a million dollars per month (roughly) because I was quite pregnant with Amy. Here is the recap of what happened after that:

* Matt temped for a month or two while looking for a job. He flew out to Utah twice (both on extremely short notice and both for less than 24 hours) to interview with a company there that looked really promising.

* And then a little thing called childbirth happened. (I have been scrolling through my old blog posts and getting all misty-eyed... I can't believe Amy is going to be 2 next month!)

* We really, really thought we were going to move out to Utah (and live in Matt's parents' basement) - to the point of calling a realtor and painting the house and everything. A company out there had made him an offer, and then they... changed their minds? And then denied that an offer had ever been made, even though we had it in writing? It was very strange, but I am glad (other than the opportunity to live near Opels) that we didn't end up moving out there.

* In June 2008, Matt finally got a job offer selling mortgage training for a local company. The catch? It's a sales position, so the base pay is infinitesimally low, and it will take a long time to build up enough sales to earn even the base level of commission. (Oh, the other fun catch? The health insurance is ridiculous... like $900 a month AND a $7K deductible. Thanks, but no thanks.)

* We figured out that we could make that work, since it was the only job available and didn't require relocation, IF I dusted off my ol' chemistry degree and worked for a while. But only IF I was actually earning enough to cover child care for three kids and actually have a little bit left over. I went to maybe three job interviews and was offered a job (I always feel slightly guilty that it's easier for me to find a job than it is for Matt. But this is probably because I have a more specific skill set + a lower salary requirement.)

* So at the end of June, I started working in a quality control lab for a petroleum blending facility. It was a strange adjustment for us to go from no jobs to 2 jobs within about three weeks. Amy was ten weeks old and it was awfully hard for me to leave her, but I knew it had to be done.

* For eight months, we both worked. This was crazy. We ended up switching our childcare several times. I was working four 10-hour days, which meant that I had Fridays off but it also meant that I had to get up at 4:45 a.m. And I was determined not to pay for formula so I pumped like a madwoman (in the car, at home, and in a dirty, unlocked breakroom at work - which was, I later realized, in violation of Indiana state law for my employer not to give me a place for pumping, but whatever) and ended up having more than enough milk. I know you needed to know that about me, right?

* During all of this, Matt kept on going to job interviews. And with each lead, I'd promise myself I wouldn't get my hopes up, then I'd go ahead and get my hopes up anyway, and then I'd be bitterly disappointed every.single.time. when it didn't pan out. In fact, a good outcome was a company actually bothering to email a rejection, since most people don't do that - they interview you, they lead you on for a while, and then they just ignore you. How rude!

* I was working hard in the lab, doing what I assumed was a good job since I never heard otherwise, and then one day (this was in February '09) they let me go. It was rather unexpected - at 3:30 on a Wednesday, it was just 'Drop what you're doing, turn in your key, and get out.' Well, okay then. I was incredibly bitter about this (it still rankles me, just a little) BUT I was also hugely excited to be at home with my kids again.

* So we were back down to one job, but I kept my feelers out. I had the opportunity to work over the summer for a former employer of mine, but it was full-time and I didn't want to go back to that crazy schedule, so I turned it down. Instead, I spent the summer shuttling my kids back and forth to various lessons and activities.

* And Matt kept right in looking for jobs. By this point relocation had become much less of an option, and Matt took as many job interviews as he could. The summer wasn't a very good time for sales, so we were basically living off his base salary and our savings. In August, I finally took my sister's advice and went down to the WIC office to apply for benefits. (The income threshold is surprisingly high for a family of five, and it really helped getting all that free milk and cheese.)

* Things kind of went in cycles. He'd have no job interviews for a month, and then three in one week. He had awesome sales in the last quarter of '09 (it's kind of the nature of the business) and hardly anything in January 2010. And Matt has been dealing with the supreme frustration of a poorly managed company, trying to make sales with inadequate support.

* A few weeks ago, Matt went for yet another interview - this time for a call center manager position with ITT Tech. He felt like it went really well (especially since the interviewer knew some of Matt's former co-workers from the student loan industry - I love how everyone says that networking is the best way to find a job, but it's a lot harder to do when your entire department got laid off), I promised myself I wasn't going to get optimistic, then went ahead and did it anyway. Also - and this is crucial - the people that he interviewed with referred him over to a different department with the same company. (They're a pretty big company.) Matt ended up going to 3 or 4 interviews there - luckily their building is like 3 minutes from his current job, so he was able to do it discreetly on lunch breaks & things. One of the H.R. people Matt interviewed with was named Betsy, which I took as a good sign.

* On a Monday a couple of weeks ago, Matt got the ol' 'thank you for your interest but we have decided to go in a different direction blah blah blah' email from ITT. And while I respect the fact that they fall into the approximately 25% of companies who actually tell you they aren't hiring you (you think I am exaggerating), I was obviously disappointed. As was Matt, since he felt like he had done really well in his interviews and actually wanted to work for the company.

* The following day, I took a call here at home for Matt. From ITT Tech, and the lady wanted him to call her back. Matt hadn't taken the cell phone that day - he's smart enough not to make all these things with his phone at work - so I emailed him and he came home during his lunch break. But since they'd already rejected him, I couldn't imagine why ITT would need to talk to him again.

So, I was around while Matt was on the phone with ITT - he was upstairs but he came downstairs and was gesturing to me and trying to write something on the dry erase board, only the marker didn't work because Betsy had smooshed the tip. But apparently what ITT had to say to him was not 'Nyah nyah nyah' but 'We'd like to make you an offer.' See, apparently he was turned down for the FIRST job he'd interviewed for - I had forgotten there were actually TWO.

Let me reiterate: MATT GOT A BETTER JOB. After what felt like for-like-ever. He's going to be Managing Director for Educational Recruitment, which is awfully fancy-sounding and MUCH better than the unsatisfying sales job he's been struggling with for the last almost-two-years. There are a whole host of reasons why this job will be better, to wit:
* Opportunity for advancement. At Matt's old (current) company, there was pretty much nowhere to go. Matt will be managing the call center for a fairly new department, and it's a big company (headquarters are here in Indy). So we are hoping that within a few years he will be able to move up the ladder. It's nice to think that his career is back on track after a brief hiccup (none of which, I should add, was due to any kind of failing on Matt's part - it was just lousy luck and a bad economy).
* The pay isn't necessarily a whole lot better when you compare it with our 2009 tax return, but it is better. (Our thrifty habits honed over the past several years will always come in handy. I will still shop at Goodwill, but let's face it, I'd do that anyway.) The main thing is that it's consistent pay, without the stress and silly mind games of salary-plus-commission.
* Insurance benefits that we can afford. (No, we haven't been uninsured for the past two years. We got benefits through my job, and after I got the sack, we've been doing a self-paid thing. It works, but it's not optimal. It's more expensive and we don't have dental or vision.)
* Matt was really impressed with the management that he will be working with. One of the big sources of frustration at his current-soon-to-be-former job is that the company isn't really set up for the salespeople to make good sales. Also? He will be management. There's a lot to be said for being in control of your own fate.

Matt will be working the same crazy hours - 1 to 10 p.m. - that he did when he was in the student loan business, only without the 1-hour commute downtown. It's about 20-25 minutes, depending on traffic. And honestly, I have learned that there are both advantages and disadvantages to this work schedule. He misses rush hour, and while I don't like not having him around in the evening (that's when the kids are at their crankiest. Probably because they are hungry, and he hasn't been getting home until 6:30 or later.) it's AWESOME having a chunk of time in the morning when I can do my grocery shopping or whatever and he can play with the kids. Matt's biggest concern is having enough time to spend with Betsy, since she gets on the bus at 8 a.m. and goes to bed at 8 p.m., but we will figure out ways to make it work.

So, finally, FINALLY after two years of alternating hope and despair, things are looking up for our family. Our kids have been praying 'Please let Daddy get a better job' in much the same way that you would say 'Blessthisfoodthatitmaystrengthenandnourishourbodies' and I'm really happy that their prayers (and ours) have been answered. I'm feeling a level of optimism for the future that is almost uncharacteristic for this Gloomy Gus.

Matt starts the new position on Thursday. He's winding down at his current job - it's so futile he actually finds it comical. We were planning to take a mini-vacation during Spring Break, but since he won't have the vacation days, we took off last Friday and went up to Chicago for a day and a half. But I will blog about that later because I feel like this has gone on long enough...

12 witty remarks on "The End And The Beginning"

Cathy on 9:43 AM said...

That is GREAT News! Obviously I wasn't around for all the previous drama, but just knew he was unhappy. So glad to hear things are looking up! Hip Hip Hooray! Congrats to all of you!

SlyGly on 10:08 AM said...

Wonderful news!!

amypfan on 2:36 PM said...

How wonderful! Congrats to you both. :)

mom said...

w00t!!!!! I am really happy for all of y'all. Matt might consider having a "date" with Betsy on Saturday mornings, I guarantee she will remember them.

Catherine on 6:29 PM said...

Listen lady, you need to know reight here and right now that you are NOT a "Gloomy Gus."

You are a Woebegone Wanda.

Also, congratulations. You should celebrate by coming to seeeee meeeeeee.

Rebecca on 6:52 PM said...

Loved, loved, loved this post! That is wonderful news and I am so happy to hear that Matt will be happy and that you are happy too!

Anna on 7:46 PM said...

So glad to hear your good news! That's so wonderful!! :) I hope he enjoys his new job.

jdhoosier said...

Yay. Un/underemployment = teh suxxor.

The Hillbilly Banjo Queen: on 11:11 AM said...

I popped over here to "meet" you and I have enjoyed reading your blog. I am glad your year is shaping up better than your last couple. :) I am also happy to find that you will be watching General Conference, too. :) Hallelujah for the adventures of blogging! It's so much fun to meet people. I look forward to the reveal of the Palm Sunday dresses.

Anonymous said...

Yay!!! So happy for you all!

Anonymous said...

Totally cool!! Yippee!!! So happy for you....great to hear of good things in this economy and all!!

Kristen on 1:27 AM said...

confession: while i was reading this post i kept thinking, "yeah yeah, job whatever - are they moving to california?!" and at the end I find myself a little miffed.

i mean, would you not LOVE to move to the land of ... er... hey, good weather, and .... um.

anyway. job. yay. hmph. :)


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