In 3 days I start a new job. A very promising job that I hope to make a career of. To tell the story, I suppose I have to go back to Helen's passing.
I'm not sure why her passing hit me so hard. I didn't even think we were that close, once I became an adult. I probably saw her 4-5 times between Whiz Kid's birth and her coming to my parent's home for end-of-life care. Perhaps she was associated with something traumatic that is too far back for me to remember. Whatever the reason, I had a bit of a breakdown in the weeks that followed. My parents kept bringing her things back to their home to sort out, and the smell of Helen's house permeated the downstairs for a while and made me very emotional. I kept feeling drawn to her grave, and would go there sometimes on my lunch break and sit for a while and cry. Then I would sing a song and feel better.
As things began to settle down, my take-away from all of it was that I needed to stop giving so much of myself to people who are actively ungrateful, people who either use me or who simply ignore my efforts. Number one on that list was my boss. I was getting uncomfortable with the emotional closeness I felt for him, knowing that he almost certainly didn't feel the same way and was only getting so personal with me because he feels the same sense of entitlement in an employee's life that he does in his dog's. So I decided to find out. I asked him one Friday, as I was leaving, if he would fire me if I asked him out. He looked shocked and immediately replied, "I don't do that." By which he obviously meant going out with employees, not the firing people part.
So it was clearly time to move on. Funny thing was, I thought it would be easy to do that, once I heard his answer. It wasn't. I tried to put up some emotional walls and stop engaging in so much banter. Apparently, this was unacceptable. He doesn't tolerate boundaries in other people. So the work environment deteriorated rapidly. When he lashed out at me again for something stupid one day, I got angry. He told me that it was necessary to "take the good with the bad here," which left me wondering exactly what the "good" was. So after a couple of days when I was calm enough to respond rationally, I emailed him and copied his sister, the HR manager, saying that I was willing to continue taking the good with the bad, as long as he was.
He told her he had no idea what I was talking about and that she should find out what my problem was. The utter deceit and lack of responsibility in that meant it was over before it ever started, but I talked to her anyway. I told her that he was quite simply a bully. She was as cold and manipulative as before. As always, she reminded me that he just is who he is, he's never going to change (translation: He just isn't capable of doing any better, so lower your standards accordingly). She even went so far as to condescendingly tell me, in a "you poor ignorant little thing" tone, that I'm a smart girl, and if I really wanted to throw away a job like this! over some emotional issues, well, I was an adult and there was just nothing they could do for me. She went on to remind me that he does SO MUCH for his employees, buying us lunch! (usually because he's asking us not to clock out due to coverage issues) and giving us bonuses! ($180 total in the over 18 months I worked there, OMG what will I do without that!!!), and that furthermore he is absolutely the kindest and most generous person I will ever meet.
That last really offended me, although I didn't say so. He also added, when he joined the meeting, that he is NOT on an equal level with the employees, and as owner he is entitled to say and do whatever he wants. Yadda yadda, blah blah I'm an entitled little prick and you're a nothing, yadda yadda. So, that was the end of that. Still, being the people pleaser that I am, I somehow let them manipulate me into feeling like I was the one who needed to prove myself, and asked them to give me 30 days to see how things were going.
After I went home and had a chance to think about it, I realized how full of BS they were, and that yes, I AM a smart girl and have a 4.0 GPA to prove it, so why am I throwing that away on these jerks? I decided to look for other work. I waited the 30 days to tell them so, out of fairness, and during that time he completely stopped working with me or talking to me any more than was absolutely essential for the business to function. It was the most pathetically childish thing I've ever seen from a grown man. Although, he still occasionally would start teasing and harassing me for a reaction just because he needed the attention, which I found intolerably offensive. If you can't handle working with me, you definitely shouldn't be pestering me for random attention. Grow up!
Once I told them I was going to seek other work, things went from ridiculous to downright toxic. And in the end, I'm glad. Just like with my marriage, the one good thing that came of staying so long is that I will always know I made the right decision, in the end. He turned into such an absolute a**hole that I couldn't believe I ever saw anything good in him. In the meantime, I got a call from the staffing agency I worked with before, and they sent me for an interview with a company closer to home, with better hours and of course a much better atmosphere. The job involves extensive proofreading, so being a Grammar Nazi came in handy! Lol. And I got the job. If I stay long enough, they will provide tuition reimbursement to go back for a degree in their field, and I would like to do that. Social work is important to me, but this seems like a company and field where I'd love to make a career. Standing up for myself is finally paying off!