10.26.2009

Triumphant Return

As some of you may know (or not), I have reemerged into the working world.

I’ll start with a little background. I was the kick-ass super force, the git-r-done wonder woman, of a very small ad agency in the suburbs until early 2009. The agency was not recognized by the larger Philadelphia agency community and was mostly in existence due to the long standing relationships of its proprietor, an emotionally imbalanced but occasionally delightful man that may or may not have had a substance abuse problem that led him to be extremely erratic and sometimes verbally abusive. But an ad agency it was, nonetheless. After three years by his side, I’d grown a necessary thicker skin and become intimately familiar with all things regional real estate related (as that was our niche market). {You see where this is going, right?}

The decline in the market, however, can’t be held responsible for the agency’s untimely death. Well, at least not solely. CEO’s penchant for private Stickley auctions, new German automobiles, three week trips abroad and other such luxury items, I feel, is a main contributor to our closure. When the real estate market corrected itself, his eccentricities and desires did not also adjust. Spending continued while profit ebbed. The result was a 2009 bankruptcy and closure of my beloved agency. I was out on the street. Or, more appropriately, my couch. He took a highly paid position with a client and, after I snipped at him because he woke me on my first “sleep in” of unemployment, summarily dismissed me from his life. I was, in my defense, a little offended that he asked me to write my own recommendation letter for him to sign. I had, you see, offered to do just that two months before our closure but he told me I meant so much to him he just had to write it himself…after two months, no letter and now no job AND no restful sleep, this request was poorly received.

I took a glorious six month hiatus, during which I did worry about money on more than one occasion, but thanks to the unemployment check I received regularly, it was not catastrophic, and for that, I am grateful. I have been working as much as I legally could since I legally could work, contributing to the unemployment fund, so I didn’t feel a stitch of guilt having to rely on it now, after over fifteen years of steady contribution. However, despite my affinity for freelance writing and the flexibility it affords – and my deep love of being able to simultaneously work and snuggle my two Boston Terriers – I did want to return to the work force at some point. I edited myself just then – I had initially typed ‘need’ but changed it to ‘want.’ I can’t say I have ever wanted to work, though, so maybe that is the wrong word too. Regardless, I neither need nor want to work but I guess it’s just more a situation of enjoying being paid. And if I can swing that paycheck on several instances of writing and editing over the course of a week, so much the better. I’ll take the good with the bad if I can.

So here I am, returning to work. My new position is not at an agency but rather a company. A large one to my mind, as it houses over 300 employees. A large agency in Philadelphia is somewhere around 30 employees. This is a whole new ballgame!

Some early thoughts on working for a company – I’m surprised at how many people hold positions based solely on things I did as a PART of my last job, albeit this is a bigger company and there are more transactions taking place…. However I have felt a certain sense of shock at seeing the sheer numbers that occupy positions in IT, HR, A/R, and indeed, on each account team. I think it’s quite lovely that no one person is so put upon, but I also find it sort of shocking. Companion to that revelation is this: there is down time. There are times when I simply have finished my assigned writing/editing and I just don’t have anything else to do until that next meeting or email gives me a bead on something assigned to me, something I can assist on, or something I can take initiative to try and impress. I’m sure there are things there I’m not thinking of…and possibly in four months or eight months I’ll look back and think I was crazy because I’m so swamped, but at the moment, these are my thoughts. Overall, the environment seems very pleasant, with a lot of people coming and going, not flinching at the sound of their bosses voice and not afraid to step away to the restroom for fear of missing a client call. It’s also nice knowing that provided I get my work done, no one is brow beaten over the hours they keep. Which is quite important as my new commute is in excess of an hour and fifteen minutes. I guess the pace is different, and that’s a welcome change.

There is less direct supervision than my past agency positions, so I have a general lack of understanding what the expectations are and how to exceed them. Usually my first order of business in any position. Has me a little uneasy.

But I keep waiting, frankly – when will I run afoul of someone? Make a critical error? Get “yelled” at (which in my mind is being criticized really in any fashion that I find embarrassing)? I know the shoe will drop and I hate not knowing where and when. Until then…

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