And Shove It

A couple of regular working  joes have become Internet celebs this week due to leaving shitty jobs in spectacularly “fuck off” fashion.  Steven Slater’s situation has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, Today Show and numerous Facebook and Twitter commenters who are calling him a hero.  Jenny’s story is quite possibly a hoax or staged simply to gain some publicity.  If it’s true, I feel you, Sister.  If not, it’s still not too far from the thoughts I had after my two-year stint in the world of finance.

I worked for a brokerage firm in the Bay Area with the hopes of gaining some experience in a new field and possibly breaking into a career that would bring me some satisfaction.  I was hired to work with/for a young broker who was a rising star in the company.  Driven, smart and accomplished, I felt that “Shelly” would be a great mentor. 

Oh, I was so wrong.  So delightfully, adorably dead fucking wrong.

Rather than learn about the industry, I was treated to a host of indignities and abuse.  Shelly decided to get a puppy about the time that I started.  And two weeks later, discovered that she was pregnant.  How did this affect MY life, you ask?

  • Shelly started bringing her dog to work in order to socialize him.  She would take him outside to go to the bathroom, scoop up his poop like a good dog owner and – instead of disposing of the shit in the dumpsters outside – would bring it to my desk, where she would fling the bag in my wastebasket.  “It looks like you need to empty your trash soon!” she cluelessly stated as she deposited dog shit where I sat and worked.
  • Pregnancy was not kind to her hormones.  She was exhausted.  She frequently freaked out, apologized for not feeling well, and blamed it on the pregnancy.  This went on for, oh, about nine months.
  • Shelly had her kid, went on leave for eight weeks, and returned to work.  WITH THE NEWBORN.  As in, she started bringing her baby to work with her as she made calls, placed trades, and attended client meetings.  She believed that clients who were unsupportive of her lifestyle choices were not clients she wanted anyways.  Oh, did I mention that profitability (ie having clients who invested money with us) played a huge role in my bonuses?
  • After awhile she hired a nanny…to watch the baby at the office.  Our two-room office.  Which meant that the nanny basically parked her ridiculous self next to my desk and asked inane personal questions (Did I have a boyfriend?  Where did he live?), which she then reported back to Shelly.  I started telling Mary Poppins weirdly specific, innocuous stuff to see if Shelly would later bring it up.  She always did.
  • Shelly was determined to have the stay-at-home mom experience without giving up her career OR relying on someone else to “raise my child” and so she would be off at various Mommy and Me, Music Together and Gymboree classes with her baby.  Her baby who couldn’t hold his head up or talk or actually participate in these things.  If anyone from our company or a client inquired about her whereabouts while she was off at one of these awesome uses of her time, I was to report that she was “at a meeting.”  Basically, I was supposed to lie for her.  These activities always took place between 8am and 5pm, Monday-Friday.  Those were also our regular office hours.

But I can’t simply blame Shelly’s crazy on having a kid or even a new dog.  Oh no.  I firmly believe that she was batshit crazy pre-breeding and that it just brought out a new set of cuckoo’s nest behavior.  Motherhood did not seem to instill a newfound sense of human compassion though.

  • One day I had to use the restroom shortly after arriving to work.  Apparently the fact that I was not at my desk for 60 seconds was upsetting, because Shelly asked me to “please use the restroom at home before work so that the schedule would not be interrupted.”  I shit you not (no pun intended).
  • I soon developed a UTI (sorry for the overshare) as a result of “holding it” and had to take myself to the ER.  Shelly told me that I “could not take the whole day off for a doctor’s appointment” even though I worked almost an entire day before taking myself to the motherfucking hospital.  Because I was, you know, urinating blood.
  • Months later a cold turned into a horrible lung infection that over-the-counter meds could not help.  I was coughing so hard that I was throwing up daily.  When I finally had enough and went to seek medical help, Shelly once again expressed displeasure when I had to take my meds with food because it meant I was actually slowing down enough to eat a bit of lunch, rather than working straight through.  She didn’t realize that the reason I had been skipping lunch in the first place was because I was tired of throwing up each afternoon.
  • When I gave her two MONTHS notice that I would be leaving my job in order to relocate for personal reasons she a.) tried to talk me out of it* and b.) asked me to stick around longer since my last day would be right before she was supposed to go to Fiji on vacation.  Did I mention that this trip to Fiji was something she was able to earn through the company with my help, but that I was not eligible for the trip itself?  Yeah. 
  • On my last day she left a horribly bitter, shrill, flat-out mean voice mail message on our office phone, berating me for not being around so that she could say goodbye to me properly.  It was the single weirdest message ever and my replacement looked horrified as I played it on the speakerphone.

So, why did I stay at this awful place?  I mean, the pay wasn’t great, the benefits were so-so, and the while the actual work itself was fine and could be interesting, I spent much of my day taking care of HER rather than our clients.  Oh, and I was also hit on by clients and harassed by a client/referral partner who worked in the same building.  But…I wasn’t a quitter.  I didn’t want to leave because someone was “mean” to me.  And I kept thinking maybe there had to be some great payoff for all of my slaving.  There never was.  No glowing recommendation (company policy is that HR will only verify employment and whether the employee was in “good standing” when he/she left and brokers are not to write personal letters), and the work experience itself was only useful in that specific field.

I did, however, get a lot of good stories out of it, as well as the satisfaction of knowing that I behaved with integrity and treated her with respect even when she couldn’t be bothered to do the same.  So there’s that.

*In retrospect it wasn’t the most brilliant move of my life, but that’s neither here nor there.  Also, none of her damn business.

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