Friday, May 1, 2009

Safe at work with mixed emotions

I'm back to work, and I know I am safe there, but it is with mixed emotions that I am there.

I started working at the new Peebles store in Bowling Green on April 20 with 29 others who were all trying for the same 10 jobs. We all knew going in that only 10 of us would survive the final cut, but I went in feeling pretty confident. I had already turned down an offer to be the assistant manager at full-time status.

My reasons were boss and family know those reasons. I won't go into them here, but those reasons were fully explored, fully fretted, and over-discussed during a course of three days and two sleepless nights. I had all of their support in that decision, and felt confident in that.

Tonight, I'm kind of kicking myself.

April 20 started with training: Videos, rules, paperwork, boring, snooze, ugh, and hoping it will just end. On April 21, I was one of four guys who helped unload a full semi load of product. And when I say full, I mean full...we opened the door and boxes fell out. I haven't been that tired since I re-roofed my old garage when I lived in Cygnet.

The balance of the last two weeks have consisted of getting those boxes unpacked, setting up racks and displays, and placing product, rearranging, and changing everything to make it look perfect.

On Wednesday, my boss pulled me aside and asked if I would be interested being "third key," which is like a managerial supervisor position. I still don't have all of the details. Again I asked for some time to think about it, and I discussed it with Jenn and dad. In the end, I decided that I didn't want to turn down yet ANOTHER opportunity for additional responsibility.

If nothing else, it looks good on my resume. More importantly, it gives me an opportunity to work on my managerial skills, further prove my trustworthiness to even more people, and...let's face it...make more money.

I am still looking for a full-time job, but I'm pretty happy about this decision. Once I find a full-time job, I will be able to do both, which is the end goal. Until then, bills will be a little tight. But one part-time job is better than no job, so I'm very pleased.

So what's up with the mixed emotions, you ask? Well, as we all know, nothing is perfect. I was working tonight, and I had no fewer than three unrelated customers ask me if I was a manager or that they thought I WAS the manager because 1) I looked and acted like it, and 2) because I knew what I was doing.

The first time, I was pretty proud, and thanked them for their kind words. The second time, the little red flag went about a fourth of the way up the pole. The THIRD time, that red flag was completely unfurled and I started really second-guessing my decision to turn down the full-time assistant manager position.

I went to my boss and asked her if she ever felt like kicking herself for what might have been a bad decision, and she knew exactly what I was talking about. She then proceeded to tell me that the regional manager, who worked side-by-side with us for the last two weeks, had told her that I would have made a great assistant manager. She told him she offered and that I turned him down, and his response was "oh, THAT'S the guy!!!"

That story also explains why when the corporate guys toured the store on Wednesday and wanted us to move all of the wall displays down about 10 inches that he came to me first and told me he wanted me to handle "a big job," and then proceeded to watch as I enlisted the help of several other people to get the job done quickly...since he told me at 4 and we were all supposed to leave at 6. He was testing me and my leadership abilities.

It also explains why, when my boss offered me the "third key" position, he came in the room during our meeting, basically interrupted the discussion, asked me if I was willing to relocate, and told me I could go really far in the company.

That was a heck of an ego boost for me, but also kind of a kick, because I could have been a step ahead already.

Come to find out that all four members of the set-up team he brought in all individually told my boss that they thought I would make a really good assistant manager.

So all of that is one reason for the mixed emotions.

But there also is part of me that doesn't WANT to be a manager, or an assistant manager. That part of me had a hard time tonight watching two really good guys get cut from our team as part of that "whittle down to 10." I understand the reasoning for both of them - now that I'm third key, I'm in the loop about a lot more things - but they were still good guys, and one of them really needed this job. I hated watching my boss let them go. It was awkward and uncomfortable, and having recently been on the receiving end of the "we have to let you go" speech, I felt really, really bad for them.

But it makes me realize how lucky and blessed I really am, and I can't take what I have for granted, as I do all too often.

Another thing eating at me is that there is a slim chance that I may return to the Sentinel soon. One of my co-workers there died on April 17, for reasons that we still don't know. He was only 44. He went to bed one night and simply didn't wake up the next morning. I have been told that there is a chance the Sentinel may replace him...and maybe not. But if they do, I have been promised that I will be his replacement.

Oh good...I get to replace the well-respected guy who I looked up to, who taught me how to report the issues I reported, who died. Can you appreciate how all of that could make me uncomfortable? I feel like a vulture just waiting to benefit from the misfortune of others. I know it's not really like that, but that's how it feels.

The rumor mill is running rampant about my "imminent return," but I have no guarantees of that, and I am not getting my hopes up until I hear one way or the other from my former boss. He told me he would let me know about 2 1/2 weeks after my co-worker died. That means I should know sometime next week. I'm trying not to think about it. I want to go back, but I'm afraid to. I'm afraid of being layed off again if things continue to get worse. It's not the Sentinel's fault. Newspapers all over the country are laying off and making drastic cuts.

In the meantime, I also also have a few other projects pending that could turn into good additional part-time or temporary jobs.

I just take it one day at a time and hope for the best.

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