“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” -Louisa May Alcott
On Wednesday last week, I met with HR to discuss the possible 1:1 switch with Stephanie, allowing this new mom (whose role was being dissolved through organizational restructuring and no fault of her own) to keep a job at the company while I (who am planning to leave the company anyway to start a teaching career) could have her severance package to help bridge the gap between leaving my current job and starting a new one in August.
The HR Representative is the same one who did my entry paperwork when I joined the company eight years ago. She remembers me, and we share the same alma mater, so she genuinely wanted to help me. I was honest but diplomatic, admitting that I do not see a future for myself at the company and also being transparent about the fact that I do not currently have another job lined up.
She acknowledged that my proposal did seem like an elegant solution, but she also said that my situation was not really one where severance would normally be paid out. “Yours is more of a resignation case.”
“The company is planning to pay out severance regardless, right? Either to Stephanie or to me?”
“And Stephanie is a good worker who is valued here. She is a new mom and is losing her job by no fault of her own, but because of restructuring, right?”
“Meanwhile, you are planning to try to place me in a new team, keeping me at this company, when I have openly stated that I do not see a long-term future for myself here. I don’t currently have another job lined up, so I would hate for the company to continue employing me and investing in me when I very openly have one foot out the door and am actively looking externally. It might be better for all parties involved if you were to lay me off rather than continuing to pay me salary and benefits until I successfully find an external job.”
The HR Rep considered that for a moment. “I’m actually pretty sure I’ve found a role for you in our Projects team. If I gave you the option of a talent placement into the Projects team or a severance package, you would take…?”
“The severance package,” I told her without skipping a beat. The time for political game playing was past us.
She leaned back in her chair, looking resigned and a bit sad. “She’s ruined you, hasn’t she?” – speaking of my boss.
I shrugged. The past eight years have been one long series of managers and decisions and frustrations that led us to where we are today. My current boss is just the final blow.
The HR Rep said she’d talk with my boss about whether she’d accept Stephanie as a suitable replacement for me. “If she doesn’t, this idea is dead in the water.”
I left her office feeling at peace. I’d done what I could do. Now it was time to wait and pray.
At the end of last week, I toured five new apartments. I’d originally started with a list of twenty-five, which I researched online and ranked using a weighted evaluation matrix I created myself. Yes, I am Type A.
Once I had finished my analysis of monthly cost, square footage, safety, location, amenities and a number of other factors, I made appointments to tour the top five, hoping to be able to find a great apartment to move into in April (with the expectation that I would have been released from my current lease by then).
Between tours 4 and 5, I stopped for lunch and checked my email on my phone. I had a new message from my current apartment complex:
“From the staff here, we would like to extend an apology for recent events. We had unforeseen circumstances arise which required another resident to have to use the model in urgency. We did have our HPD officer make visits to the different apartments in the area last week. He spoke with a unit which we believe the issue is coming from and let them know that the next time he needs to come pay a visit he will be making arrests. We are confident that this will resolve the problem with the marijuana smell. We want to thank you for being patient and understanding during this time and will be sending a gift to your apartment as a token of our appreciation. Please let me know how the marijuana situation is going and if there is still a continuous smell of it. We hope you have a great rest of the weekend and don’t hesitate to contact any with any further questions and concerns.”
I had mixed emotions when I finished reading the email. I was glad they finally did something about my complaint, but I was annoyed that it took them so long and that I now felt like I’d wasted half a day touring other apartments. I was glad to not have to move immediately, but I also thought it would have been nice to have an excuse to move to a cheaper apartment (especially since, with my job change, I need to be cutting costs).
Just as I was processing this latest email from my apartment management, Seth called. He was on his lunch break and wanted to know how things were going. Unfortunately for Seth, I am an external processor, and he chose to call me right as I was in the midst of having to process a lot of significant new information.
So I told him everything – how I’d searched my lease for a way to get out of it, how I’d gotten my doctor to write a note saying my living situation was detrimental to my health, how I’d researched nearby apartments, and how I’d spent most of the day going on apartment tours.
“And then!” I ranted on, “After I did all this work building a case to be released from my lease, management finally came through and decided to do something to remedy the situation. So I guess I’ll have to stay there and keep paying the really high rent until my lease ends in July.”
“On the plus side,” I continued, musing aloud to myself as I kept processing the various scenarios, “I guess this will allow me to pick an apartment that’s close to the school where I teach because I should know by July where I’ll be teaching come August. That could work out well.”
When I finally finished talking everything out, Seth voiced his opinion – an opinion that made me wish I’d stopped for breath sooner rather than continuing to pour out my thoughts and feelings. He rebuked me for wanting to get out of my lease early, for building a case against my apartment complex, and for not giving them what he deemed an adequate amount of time to respond to my complaint.
“Gosh, Aurora. How have you already searched the lease, gotten a doctor’s note, given the required two written notices and toured new apartments? It’s only been a couple of weeks since this first became an issue. It’s like you’re trying to use the situation to your advantage,” he chided me.
Well yeah, I thought. I wouldn’t have tried to get out of my lease if they hadn’t given me cause. But they did give me cause. I saw an opportunity, so I started working it out to fruition. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
Seth continued his rebuke, “You should be a woman of your word. You signed a lease that ends in July, and you should stay until July. Your apartment management came through in remedying the problem, and that should make you happy, not upset. They did what management is supposed to do, so rather than being upset that you can’t get out of your lease, you should be celebrating that everything worked out the way it should.”
Seth was glad my plan failed. He said I’d been in a frenzy; I’d done so much activity in one week. He told me I wasn’t being above reproach; that I was taking advantage of the situation for my own benefit. He encouraged me to make good on my commitment to complete my lease term. Like he’d said only days earlier, he again voiced, “Where is all of this coming from, anyway? This isn’t the Aurora I know.” At times like that, I wonder if he knows me at all. If he did, he’d know that talking to me that way just makes me shut down.
The more he talked, the more walls I put up. Seth has a way of taking the moral high ground in his rebukes that makes me feel awful. He would be crushed to know that. He’s genuinely well-intentioned in his rebukes, but he’s so blasted morally upright, always looking to do the right thing, that sometimes when I’m not even doing anything wrong, he somehow makes me start to doubt my own motives.
I didn’t think I was being shady in my dealings. We are supposed to be cunning as serpents and innocent as doves (Matt. 10:16). And I work in contract negotiations for a living. I have for eight years. So the way I handled the situation was what I thought was right. But Seth tends to make me question my true intentions. Sometimes he’s right, and I need to be put in check, but sometimes he’s wrong about me.
I’m still learning how to effectively be in relationship with someone who’s so squeaky-clean that sometimes he doesn’t seem to know how to navigate the grey areas of real life. I’m all for behaving in an honorable, godly manner, but the world is not black and white. And while I appreciate that Seth always wants to honor God in his dealings, I also think he needs to realize that not everything he believes is dishonoring to God actually is. He needs to loosen up a little bit and die to that inner Pharisee.
How terribly frustrating. I think a lot of men (especially single ones) don’t understand that a single woman in today’s society cannot allow herself to be soft and gentle when dealing with the situations you’ve listed above, as you’ll just be taken advantage of or ignored.
Single women have to look out for themselves because they don’t have a husband to make those decisions in their stead. They may not make the “best” decision, but they have to make the best decision for the situation. I don’t see your actions as being selfish or underhanded, so please don’t feel guilty for trying to improve your situation. You’re still in my prayers, hope your weekend improves!
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Thanks, Ally! Seth and I had some good, candid conversations this weekend that made me feel better about the way we both reacted last week. I think one of our stronger assets as a couple is that we do talk things out and seek to understand each other, even if it takes a few days to get everything ironed out. Hope you had a great weekend!
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I had a great weekend 🙂 So glad you were able to have a meaningful discussion with Seth this weekend. Good communication is such a vital part of any relationship and is necessary to smooth over those rough patches 🙂
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Is this the Seth you thought you knew?
Aurora, you truly deserve support rather than criticism just now. With the turmoil at your job and the prospect of a major career change this summer, no one should be telling you that it’s dishonorable to break a lease because of unhealthy smoke entering your apartment. Your closing remark about the inner Pharisee is very apt.
On the bright side, I’m glad you had the opportunity to do some apartment hunting and know what’s available around the city–that will make the changes happening this summer flow a bit more smoothly. I’m also glad that your current apartment management has finally taken your complaints seriously and is acting upon them. Silver lining, maybe, but it’s better than nothing.
God bless you this weekend, and may next week be far better for you. J.
Yes, silver lining that my apartment is coming through. As for Seth, I feel badly that – by the very nature of blogging – he is a bit of a straw man here. I am only sharing my side of the story and how things went down from my perspective. I’ve been under the weather, PMSing and under a lot of stress, so I’m sure that in all this I wasn’t as much the heroine I can make myself out to be. He’s a good man, and we talked all this out over the weekend. I even shared with him some of the comments from the blog (which he knows about, though he doesn’t know the link). I think one of our strengths as a couple is that we both genuinely want to understand the other and be understood, so we are pretty good at talking things out, even if it takes a week to get to the root issues. Thanks for the prayers and support.
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That’s a good strength to have. J.
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Ughh, so frustrating. The work thing is terrible, with your boss doing nothing but sabatoging you in every way, and your apartment giving a half hearted apology and not much of a fix. And Seth should definitely be more supportive. God has many ways of us working out situations and it isn’t always the direct way. He sometimes wants us to do things our own way with our own personalities.
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Especially when our personalities are as winning as yours and mine.
Yeah, we sure do have winning personalities. Most people can’t keep up, which is why we are so bitter.
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