Monday, July 31, 2006

The Future of Work

I was on vacation for a few days and the day I returned I received an email from a woman I had worked with a year and a half ago. (It was a short-term assignment.) She says that there's an opening coming up and they remember me with great respect, etc. and would I be interested? I must say that I am flattered that she would contact me after all this time. I wasn't even aware that she had my email address. Anyway, I'm meeting with her tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon.

After not that much thought, I realize that I must tell her that there may be a big change in my life coming up. I don't think I'll disclose details just yet. My plan is that at some point in the conversation (but not immediately), I will say that I need to tell her that Alan and I are in a process that may involve relocation. If it happens, we strongly believe that it will be no less than one year and that it could be two or three years. Or not at all; it's out of our hands.

She may decide it's not worth it to hire me at this point. I know that one is not supposed to reveal these things at job interviews. But if/when the time comes and I need to leave, it will be pretty obvious that I knew all along and didn't say anything. If for no other reason, I'd like to leave on good terms. I mean, I will need another verification of employment letter for CIC and a current reference from my last employer to a prospective employer will be helpful. Besides, it's just my way. Although I'm still figuring out how to be honest without it burning me in the butt, it's still my nature to think it's the best policy. Don't get me wrong: I don't believe in revealing everything. But this is something that I believe to be relevant to her decision and to not tell her would be tantamount to a lie.

I've had my physical stress responses crop up these past few days (headaches, stomach aches, lethargy, irritability), but not because I'm afraid I won't be offered the job. It's because I'm afraid I will be offered the job. I'm afraid that there will be more reasons to say yes than no. Especially if they offer a good salary and I believe they will. Any additional funds will help with our relocation.

I have commitment issues when it comes to employment. This is not to say that I don't have regular work. It's just that it's more on my terms, assignment by assignment. (Currently I'm on month 15 where I am now.) I enjoy the flexibility. While I don't get the usual benefits (that's what Alan's job is for), there are a lot of corporate fascist rules I get to avoid. And when a place gets to know and love me and can't live without me, I can ask for a schedule that fits my needs. The powers that be get around their rules because I'm not their direct employee. For example, I can announce my (non)availability rather than have to get approval for vacation days. Of course, I don't get paid for those vacation days. It's a give and take.

The larger issue is an emotional one. I have bad employment karma. You have no reason to believe me (not knowing me) but my history is not about being dismissed or being incompetent. In fact, it's the opposite. I'm the one that walks away in frustration at organizational politics and unkept promises. They all want to keep me, but they never seem to want to fix things so that I'll want to stay. Being *at* a place and not *of* a place allows me to keep my distance. I know I can easily walk -- and they know that, too. It's an unstated awareness.

May I take this moment to rant about the state of workers' rights in the United States? Or rather, the lack thereof? I hate Human Resources. (Even the term is unpleasant.) I hate the stupid hoops one has to jump through. I despise, loathe, and detest so-called drug testing. It is an awful policy driven by simplistic answers to complex problems and a lucrative industry of laboratories. Which is to say, Republicans and spineless Democrats (99 out of 100). More and more, what civil rights They can't take away directly, They do so indirectly by making employment impossible without subjecting oneself to the stripping of privacy, dignity, and due process. (You don't suspect that I might feel strongly about this, do you?)

I worked for a progressive non-profit that I had been campaigning to be a part of for at least a year before an offer was made. Within a year they had instituted a new "drug policy" that was the last straw for me. It's funny how you can show people research -- articles, commentary, and statistics, oh my! -- and it doesn't matter. Someone has scared them into thinking that this policy will "protect" them. And this was a progressive organization!

And that's just one of my tales of woe. I'm sure you look forward to future installments. :-)

To relate this to Canada: How does one live in limbo when in process but not knowing when/if it will happen? What is the state of employment law and workers' rights North of my current border? (If anyone has any knowledge or good links, please do share.)