“One advantage of talking to yourself is that you know at least someone is listening.”
– Franklin P. Jones
…and it seems utterly surreal. Last week, Dr. F called me up and asked me to go to lunch with him. Dr. F, as a refresher, was my boss for three years as a student when I worked in the International Student Services office on campus. It was a fantastic place to work, I was sorry when I graduated and was forced to give it up (although I was otherwise perfectly done with university for the time being). Maetanikei works there, as does Dr. S, whose favorite pastime is to pull me into his office and talk England. I loved the people, the office vibe, and most importantly the work: helping international scholars navigate the incomprehensibly tortuous immigration and visa laws.
And suddenly, munching on Subway sandwiches, Dr. F offered me a job.
Completely out of the blue. I choked a bit on my lettuce while my brain scrambled to catch up as he went on. He asked me to find a way to transfer departments, as the ISS office hasn’t had a full time office manager since the University put the kibosh on all hiring, and apparently they are suffering. The nature of the hiring freeze is such that transfers can be allowed (with sufficient groveling) though, and so he made me an official offer, as long as I could work it out with the Police Department.
As you may imagine, I spent the weekend in a fog of panic, excitement, and confusion. I felt that accepting was the right decision, but that didn’t mean it would be easy to inform people of my decision. The only times I’ve left jobs was when I graduated, or when Dad took us off to a foreign country!
Unfortunately it took less than an hour after lunch for the specter of Corporate Loyalty and his hired goons to find me and work me over and by the time I got home that night I was in psychological knots.
“Hennessy will have to take over lots, and so will Wise,” I thought to myself, wringing my metaphoric hands. “I’ll be leaving them completely in the lurch. I’m an awful person for even considering this! Angst angst angst!”
At the same time, Ambition hovered slyly on my peripherals. “Who knows where J. and you will be in a year? An office manager and supervisor is a lot higher up on the hierarchy than an entry level secretary, after all. Your resume and skill set would be upped tenfold. Any future job searches would be vastly enhanced with such credentials. You are an idiot for even thinking twice.”
“Well, yes, but…,” murmured Niceness, ” although we’ve had our managerial issues with some department decisions and projects, I have no desire to put them in a bind. Especially the ladies who would have to take on my responsibilities in addition to their own, as my absence could not be filled until the freeze is lifted by unfeeling, un-hearing HR gods.”
“Um, hello!” snapped Practicality. “We’ve had multiple responsibilities taken away from you this year, and not had a lot to replace them with. We’ve also streamlined lots of the stuff you do to cut down on unnecessary time being wasted doing simple things. We’re a good employee, and our current department is not in the position to offer us a raise, promotion, or manager’s job in the near future. This is a genuine opportunity, kid.”
“Not to mention,” put in my Sense of Nobility, “it’s work you know you enjoy and feel strongly about, yes? You feel as if you’re doing something important there.”
“Whose side are you on?” demanded my Guilt.
“Truth, honor, justice, and right,” answered Nobility smugly.
“You’re no help,” Guilt mutter and turned back to face Ambition and her lot. “You don’t understand how badly I feel about some of this. Not that I have the offer, but what its effect is going to be on my friends and co-workers.”
Sympathy finally perked up. “We get it, Guilt. We do. But honestly, we feel that the benefits outweight you. Maybe when you’ve had a lie down, this won’t seem quite the drama you think.”
“To put it nicely,” said Practicality, “you’re outvoted.”
“I’m heavier!” Guilt yelled in desperation.
“You could stand a diet,” Ambition muttered under her breath, after which a chilly silence descended as Guilt turned up an injured nose and stalked off to a corner to sulk.
I, me, C., paced a while longer thinking hard. To everyone’s credit, they managed to stay quiet. Even when I tried to reexamined each emotion or get a second opinion from my Conscience, which was oddly quiet on all of this. In fact the only input it had was, “Is this a matter of life and death? Morality? Ethics? No. You’re on your own here, C. If you needed to consult me you would have done so. This is a purely mortal, terrestrial, uninteresting topic, not my department. I’m going back to pondering the Universe.”
Finally I threw my shoulders back and announced I’d come to a decision. Guilt huffed in the corner but refused to turn around. Ambition smiled benevolently, while Sympathy patted Guilt on the shoulder but gave me her attention. Even my Sense of Nobility was twiddling her thumbs, the picture of innocence, hypocritical thing!
“We’re doing it.”
Cheers and acclaim, even from those who hadn’t been consulted. Guilt sniffed and muttered something about how we’re listening to her less and less. I let her wander off. No doubt when the day of transfer actually comes I’ll give her a holiday to nag me about what I could have forgotten to train Hennessy on, but Practicality is right. She’s outvoted.
Tiny twinges of guilt aside, I was going to do it.
(Tomorrow: Part 2, Pain and Panic)