Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Other Thursday

I lost my job. Interesting. Sensitive subject. Among a million other things on a busy morning. I leave at noon on Thursday to drive 45 minutes to my second job. I don't work here Friday and Monday it's a holiday. My boss runs into me by accident. "When you have five minutes, we need to talk. No hurry. Some day." Why wait. I'll make five minutes. We close the door, sit down and in a few words I learn that he thinks that he might not be able to give me a leave of absence. [Translation: I will not get a leave of absence.] Immediately an immense sense of relief takes over. "So that means I don't have to come back?! I can stay longer?" I don't say it loud, I just try to understand another stupid rule that neither one of us would have imagined. It is his decision, to grant a leave of absence or not. The usual maximum is for 1 year, it can be longer in special cases. Of course, there is no pay, so the saved money should allow for a replacement. But, it's not like that. Apparently they cannot get somebody else if my position is "saved" for me. Does that mean that I will have to start over? Possibly. Five hours of vacation per month. Start at the bottom, accumulate sick hours and be on probation for several months. No way! I don't say this out loud. We don't have answers and they really want me back. I said for months that I would be happy to let go and hopefully they would replace me with someone better. Everybody laughed at that and said "There's noone better, you know that!" Yes, I know, but there is always hope and they should give their new doctor a chance.

Now it's different, it's real. I promised hundreds that I would be back. I always keep my promises, it's my word and it's enough. I fully expected that during our trip I will get a message that I am let go. No problem. Stuff happens. I wanted to resign, tell everybody that I am leaving and say goodbye. With the whole leave of absence thing the temptation to return to a secure job that I enjoy was too big and too easy. Of course, why not. A sense of betrayal takes over. Why was I lead to mislead a lot of people? Over the next 8 hours I go over many different scenarios. We could stay longer. We could go to South America. We could sell our house and move forever. We could come back sooner. The initial relief is still there mixed with the sour taste of being cheated. I will never start this over. Or maybe. There's always a price on this sort of things and negotiating my salary could bring much more that I would get otherwise. I got four raises in 9 years, always too little too late. By the time I make it home from my other job I know that I will not start over. People will never get the full story but even if they want me back they might not be able to afford me. Should I change my story now and just say a simple goodbye? Certainly I cannot take back what I already said, that's the only painful part. I will not say anymore that I will be back. I will emphasize the "maybe." I want them to let me go with a dish to pass, a song, a little card. Maybe some of my previous colleagues will come over. That would be nice.

The immediate kick is that our travel budget suddenly is $11000 less. I don't lose money, it's a technicality but it's there. The second hit is that we have to plan a much larger reentry budget. It's one thing to come back, go to work and get paid 2-3 weeks later but now I will have to prepare for 2-3 months without income while I will try to make a living.

Ileana comes home shortly after 8, she immediately senses that there is something. "A bad day?" Not really, but it's not good. It would have been so nice to know this four months ago. We did think about selling everything, but I dismissed that, I promised I would come back. "Why can't we sell everything now?" It is too late and we don't really want to do that.  As we talk we both get excited and remember how it all started. It's here: Starting it all. There might be a few months but the prospect of an independent life, a full time private practice, maybe a couple consultant gigs. It's all appealing. Thirteen weeks of vacation per year, a few years of paying all the debt, saving money and taking off again. Ileana will help. She'll be my office manager. Nobody needs to know yet, even if we talk in front of the kids, they don't really pay attention. Before I go to bed, the sense of freedom and relief takes over. It is still a let down but there is nobody to blame and even if I try, I cannot get upset about it. Just excited.

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