4 more updates from readers

Here are four more updates from people who had their letters answered here this year.

1. How much can I push back on a freelance client who’s asking for significant rewrites? (#3 at the link)

After reading your answer and some of the comments, I did a few things. First I pulled the style guide that I got when I began to compare it to the one they sent a few weeks ago and said I was not in compliance with. It ended up they were totally different style guides and that I had been following the instructions I was originally given all along.

I used that information, along with instances of specific instructions I got from their former employee that they now said was wrong, and wrote them back. I made it clear I would do the rewrites, but not for free, since it appeared to be more of an internal issue on their part than an issue on mine.

The reply – nothing. They didn’t write to reject the offer or fire me, they just didn’t bother even acknowledging that I wrote them at all. I haven’t heard from them since and, at this point, I don’t expect to.

Probably for the best if they thought this was the proper reaction.

2. Keeping borderline personality disorder from affecting a career (#5 at the link)

I wrote you earlier this year asking for advice on how to keep my Borderline Personality Disorder from affecting my career. Although I haven’t yet begun my “real” career, my update is a happy one. After becoming overwhelmed with depression and stress, I decided to take medical leave from my university for the rest of the semester so that I could focus on recovery. In the meantime, I’ve begun work with a therapist that I really like and have started a DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) group. It seems I also finally have the right combination of medications, and that’s tremendously helpful, too. Things are even better at my food service job, such that I enjoy going to work now, and I feel like my life isn’t spinning out of control.

I want to thank you and your readers for your advice. I especially appreciated the comments suggesting there’s nothing wrong with not being “cut out” for customer service. It’s difficult sometimes, but I really enjoy it and I’m good at it when my symptoms are under control. I continue to read your site everyday and it’s amazingly helpful for me. One thing that is common for Borderline – or at least, common for me – is difficulty with awareness of social boundaries, and so your advice teaches me a lot about what’s expected or normal in professional and social situations. I can’t thank you enough for that! Have a nice holiday!

3. Our home office hid their Christmas party from us (#1 at the link)

Well, things went from bad to worse over the year, and in the beginning of October, our home office HR person, VP of Teapot Service, and the Teapot Service Branch manager walked into our office one morning unannounced, called the whole office into a meeting, and said that we were closed immediately and to pack our things and leave the premises. By the time we got back to our desks, our phones were shut off and our PCs were locked. I was only provided with 5 weeks of severance after 10 years of service. While they were firing us, I asked them why they weren’t providing any transition time (we had very large accounts that were quite complex and labor intensive) and they said, “We’ll figure it out.” The whole situation confirmed that I was indeed working for a bunch of complete jerks the last 10 years.

Good news is that I found a job quickly (the pay is substantially higher- I will have more flexibility and find the work really interesting) which starts in a few weeks. So, the whole situation was a foreshadowing of what was to become of our office 10 months later. I’m so happy I’m out of there.

4. My interviewer kept laughing at me

The interviewer turned out to be who would be my direct supervisor. Unfortunately, the college’s English department (so, including the writing center) was changing department chairs, so my interviewer/supervisor had to do interviews I’m not sure he was prepared to do. He offered me the position, but before I made my decision, he invited me to come into the office and meet everyone in the department. This second meeting went very well, with no awkward giggling; in fact, everyone in the office made me feel very welcome and I learned what work would be like on a day-to-day basis. I accepted the tutoring position, but due to personal reasons, I was unable to start immediately. But my supervisor was very supportive and accommodating during the entire hiring process, and I’ve had a great first month working at the writing center!

Even after working with him for just a month, I’m already starting to notice a lot of my supervisor’s quirks. I can assure the comments section that his laughing was not due to drugs! Through bits of conversation, I’ve learned that he played football for a big college team, and he even mentioned that he hopes that isn’t too intimidating to me. In hindsight, I realize I was feeling very insecure because it was my first post-college interview, and even though I avoid judging based on appearances, being interviewed by a 6’2″ athlete didn’t help my nerves! Through our conversations, I now understand that my supervisor was laughing to help me feel more welcome during an interview that wasn’t going as planned on the English department’s end.

I’d also like to add that my supervisor is extremely supportive of everyone’s goals at the writing center. This position is a great stepping stone for future English professors, and most of the past employees have gone onto working in various academic positions both at this community college and at larger 4-year colleges. During downtime, my supervisor encourages me to work on my own creative writing projects and frequently discusses them with me. He says that as much as he likes all of his employees, he wants everyone gone in a couple years so that they can pursue larger goals beyond this part-time tutoring position. Honestly, I’ve never had this level of support in any of my previous jobs, and I’m excited to go into work everyday because I’m always learning something new. Maybe some of the most awkward interviewers can turn out to be some of the best bosses?

{ 20 comments… read them below }

  1. Sarah Nicole

    I feel like all of these are such awesome updates! My favorite is that the interviewer was laughing for a good reason and ended up being great to work with. Congrats, OP, for not being scared away by that situation.

    1. Katie the Fed

      Oh good, I thought I was going crazy for a second.

      Oh Alison – I had a suggestion – can you amend the original posts to show than an update has been posted, with a link? For the terrible bosses, I was telling a friend that there had been an update to the “Boss won’t let me meet with clients until I lose weight” post but it took me forever to find a link.

  2. Sharon

    For #3:
    =While they were firing us, I asked them why they weren’t providing any transition time (we had very large accounts =that were quite complex and labor intensive) and they said, “We’ll figure it out.”

    In situations like this, isn’t it fun to kind of ponder the client’s reactions to being told their account reps have all been dismissed suddenly? I imagine some of them would be QUITE unhappy with the firm. Not that the OP needs to worry about it, just sort of …. karma…?

    1. Rebecca

      I was thinking about the WARN notice – I wonder if it really applied, and the company just ignored it? That would probably make for an interesting conversation between bad company and government types.

      1. Disillusioned Minion

        Regretfully, WARN applies only to companies of a certain size and then only when a certain minimum number of people are being laid off. Even then, some employers got very good at getting around it by conducting multiple rounds of layoffs, each less than the WARN minimum.

        Yet another proof that “them that have the gold make the rules”.

    2. Ruffingit

      That actually happened to a close friend of mine. She worked for a company where she was the point person for their biggest client. This client was THE moneymaker of the firm. My friend worked her butt off, but got tired of the abusive working environment and one day when the boss/owner spent an hour reaming her out for stupid crap, friend just quit and walked out the door. The owner was stunned. Owner actually teared up and asked her where she went wrong with friend. Friend told her she went wrong when she yelled at friend for leaving work early one day to go talk to the doctor who had just called friend to tell her that her 5-year-old daughter might have cancer.

      So anyway, the big account was NOT happy that friend was no longer handling them. Have no idea what happened after that, but I am almost certain that they will leave the company high and dry because without my friend dealing with them, things are going to SUCK.

    3. Anonsie

      This type of thing is exactly what penny-wise and pound-foolish is meant to describe, I swear. You’ll figure it out, will you?

      Somewhat different, but I do know of a very large company that decided to eliminate an entire specialty department from its ranks at every branch, keeping just one person per region (region!) to handle the things too small to outsource. Someone crunched some numbers and found that contracting out such work only when needed would be cheaper somehow, and the command came from on high. So they laid off all but one newer, cheaper employee within each region, and many of these folks had been around for a long time so that meant some decent severance per policy.

      Turned out that shell staff couldn’t handle as much as they needed to, so they started contracting work out almost immediately, largely with freelancers… Freelancers consisting mostly of their own former staff, since they were the qualified locals with a good reputation at the company, only now charging freelance rates. Which were paid on top of the severance they were already getting.

      For all I know it may have ended up being cheaper in the long run indeed, and this may have been anticipated. But I really doubt either of those things are true.

    4. ThursdaysGeek

      I was laid off without warning nearly 3 years ago. When I talk to a former client (and friend), he says his boss still swears when my name comes up. He’s swearing at the company who laid me off without warning him, swearing that changes never go smoothly anymore.

    1. Sara M

      I also liked your update. I struggle with mental health problems as well, and you just have to keep trying and keep working on things. Good luck, OP 2!

  3. A Non

    #2, I’m so glad you’re getting assistance and doing well! The psychological help I got in college ended up being way more important to my life than the classes, it’s a great time in your life to focus on mental health.

    If it’s helpful for you to read about social situations and what people tend to expect, there’s a really good blog at captainawkward dot com. She writes an advice column for people having issues with relatives, lovers, and friends, and is really good at laying out how to set your boundaries in appropriate places. The comments section tends to be really good too.

    Go you!

    1. Not So NewReader

      Echoing, congrats, OP2! You sound like you are on a good road.
      Just as A non is saying here, keep reading, make it a life habit. It will not fail you or let you down. I am always amazed at how many things people come up with that would be similar to something I might think or feel. It is also good way to learn about what other people are experiencing.

  4. JJ

    OP#3 here- as one person posted- YES, the clients were quite upset and not happy about being sent to a service center that didn’t know anything about them. I was personal friends with many of my clients (I worked with most of them 10 years) and they were shocked and horrified that our company would do that. They were also upset because the service center was being staffed with recent college graduates that had no teapot service experience whatsoever and they can’t get an answer the first time they call. It’s always “I don’t know, I’ll have to get back to you.” certainly not the level of expertise that they enjoyed when our office was open and staffed with experienced individuals that knew their accounts inside and out. I’ve also talked to some of my former coworkers in this office and they said the workload is unbearable, and that there was no plan when they let us go. they were already down several people because of high turnover, and the new people they are hiring have no experience.

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