It’s not about the money

I made my resignation official on Friday. It was a hard decision to make, but I had a nagging feeling, on a couple of fronts, that I didn’t have a lot of choice.

But I’ll be OK. I had a new gig lined up long before I handed in my resignation. I’ll make a smooth transition and I’ll find some way to contribute on my new job almost immediately. I’ll be working closer to home, in my home state of Missouri, with a better schedule and more options for professional advancement. Still, I’m leaving the best place I ever worked, and that’s difficult. The only thing that made it possible for me to leave was the hostility.

This will be the least professional thing I’ve written in a long time, but I’m upset. Read on, and you’ll see why.

Here’s the thing. There are so-called “good company men,” and there are 40-hour-a-week men. I fit somewhere in between. I’ll work extra when the company or the client need me, but I’m not in the habit of working 60 hours a week while being paid for 40 on a long-term and regular basis.

Actually, I’m not a big fan of 60-hour workweeks even when I’m being paid to work 60 hours. Usually when I end up working 60-hour weeks, the root cause is someone else not testing or planning ahead of time.

I don’t live for my job. I work so that I can afford to live in a safe neighborhood and send my kids to good schools and give my kids and my wife the other things they need.

I also remember that growing up, I didn’t see my dad very much. Frequently when I did get to see him, he was on call, and would get called away from what we were doing. Dad made good money, but that doesn’t matter anymore. He’s been dead 17 years. It’s entirely possible that if he’d been an x-ray technician instead of the doctor who read the x-rays, he’d be alive now. He would have made less money, but I really don’t care at this point. I’d go into debt for the rest of my own life to have him back.

So when somebody came along and offered me a job closer to home with the possibility of working 9-hour days to get every other Friday off, the option to telecommute once a week, and no travel, I wanted to hear about it. The manager one level above my immediate supervisor was being the wrong side of a horse about my hours too, which didn’t help.

While the wrong-end-of-a-horse vice president was telling my supervisor that I was a prima donna and entirely replaceable, and so was he if he didn’t agree with him, this other company was working around the clock (literally–I have e-mail messages from them stamped midnight, and messages stamped 5 am) to get me an offer letter.

The new job is a better job than my old one, but it doesn’t pay as well. I took a pay cut to get closer to my family and get away from him.

When I turned in my resignation, we didn’t hear a word or see any action from him. Three hours later, my supervisor called him. He asked him something unrelated, and then…

“Did you get Dave’s e-mail?”

“Oh. Yeah. About that. Do you think that incident was the straw that broke the camel’s back?”

“I think it had something to do with it, yes.”

“Oh. Well, that says a lot about his character.” Then there was a long, painful pause as he waited for affirmation. Affirmation my supervisor wasn’t going to give.

I think it does say something about my character, but not what he thinks.

I also wonder what working 7 hours for him on his proposal–some of it unpaid–and sitting there and taking his this-is-h0w-employees-should-act lecture when I knew I would soon be resigning says about my character. I could have just left him high and dry, but I didn’t.

To my current employer’s credit, they tried to keep me. A corporate executive flew in from Texas, took me to lunch, and asked what it would take to keep me. Yes, I’m impressed. The problem was, what could he offer? Money wasn’t going to do it. My new job doesn’t require travel, and it’s not fair to my current team to give them the burden of traveling while I sit in a cushy chair in Illinois. I suppose I could figure out the time I was spending in traffic, assign a dollar value to it, and ask for that. But then I run the risk of pricing myself out of the market. And that doesn’t fix the problem that pushed me to leave. And I don’t get any more time with my wife and kids either.

The guy who called me a prima donna seems to be driven mostly by money. I’m driven by other things. Among them is this. When I graduated from high school and moved away to college, Dad realized he’d been living with me for 18 years and barely knew me. If I can be a good company man and avoid repeating his mistake, that’s fine. If I have to choose between my family and my company and choose my family, then I guess that just says something about my character.

3 thoughts on “It’s not about the money

  • June 17, 2012 at 9:50 am
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    Bravo. Nicely said and a very timely post: Happy Father’s Day!

  • June 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm
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    I stepped off the corporate ladder in 1998 to spend more time with my family. I have zero regrets. In fact, some people though me prescient. Two weeks after I resigned, it was announced that the branch I worked at for eight years was closing.

  • June 29, 2012 at 7:28 pm
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    It’s frustrating dealing with some difficult people and their egos. A punching bag is a good investment for this type of thing.

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