Posts Tagged ‘ family ’

Let me count the ways….

Quite by accident, I just happened upon an article titled, “17 things the boss should always say in a performance review.” It was purely accidental, because I would have had to have cared – like I once did – to go look for something like that. You know, if I was a boss, I would be burning the candle at both ends to find nuggets like that. I’m convinced my boss has never even seen a headline like that, let alone read, or studied that kind of material.

Of the 17 topics in Jacquelyn Smith’s “Business Insider” article, not a single one came up in either my “performance review,” or my more recent “salary discussion.” Not a single one.

Rather, my boss informed me that his “spousal unit” – is that supposed to be some cutesy way of referring to this wife? – has given him permission to retire anytime. He emphasized the point by saying “2015, 2016, 2017 …” Not sure if his dumbing-down was for my benefit or his. I still can’t figure out how his retirement plans figure into my life in any way.

His next major point was to say that a lot of people leave looking for more money, only to come back when they find out the grass is greener on this side of the fence. Huh? Is that encouragement to leave, or just another way of saying, “take it or leave it”? A previous boss (third level) was fond of saying we should vote with our feet.

Smith would have a boss open up with “How are you feeling?” or “I’d like to hear your thoughts on how you think you did this year.” Me, too. Just once.

By a very convoluted path, I found myself in what is essentially a “call center.” Imagine a call center for any product or appliance you have in the house, or driveway. If it breaks, or makes a funny noise, you’re not going to call ghost busters, are you? Nope, you call the manufacturer; there is a highly trained, highly experienced team standing by, around the clock (literally 24/7/366) to answer technical questions. In my case, the product is airplanes and they often have passengers on them – put yourself in their shoes (might not be very difficult, if you’ve flown very often).

The call center I was in up to a year ago handled older model airplanes – airplanes that I had years of experience and training on; the call center I have been in the past 12 months handles the latest-and-greatest model (a single model). So, with no experience and no training, I sit at a desk with a couple of phone lines and three computer monitors linked to half –a-dozen databases, in a room with around ten others.

My boss says I did well over the past year. I remind him that I have had no training at all on the one model we support. That was worth a salary increase of precisely 1.75% “Celebrate the positives”? You mean like I didn’t go postal? Smith says, “Reinforce the person’s strengths. Recognize what they are doing right and give them an opportunity to expound on their achievements.” Really?

As far as asking me what I could have done better, or differently, or where I might see my greatest potential for growth and improvement, I’m sure that never occurred to him.

And, a plan for improvement, whether my words or his? Hah, that would be a joke. Even more ludicrous would be him saying “I’m here to support you. Never hesitate to ask me any questions that arise or share concerns that come up.”

The positive note that charade ended on was that it ended. As we were walking down the hall, back to the call center, he asked, “How are those two little ones?” My Twins are eight months old; that is the first time he has ever asked anything about my home life. If you have babies in the house, you know it is not “business as usual” when they arrive. I know he has kids – he talks about them frequently (though he talks about fishing more).

Many moons ago, I was filled with piss and vinegar (or youthful enthusiasm, if you prefer), and I was going to be “a somebody” in the company. I never had a horizon as to how long I was going to stay; I never had a limit as to how high I was going to climb the corporate ladder. I learned two things going to classes at night to earn my MBA: (1) hard work was not enough – career progression has more to do with who you know and less with what you know; and (2) it wasn’t worth a marriage and an estranged daughter. In other words, the enthusiasm I brought with me 30 years ago has been beaten out of me.

I long ago stopped looking for anyone to say thank you, or in my potential to grow or develop as a professional. I have instead, put my energies into my new family and my Church. In the early days, I didn’t have time for anything but The Company. Now, I have no time for The Company.

So, you think your life is interesting – Part 7

My wife apologized for my mother.

In the past month, besides the obvious excitement of adding two brand-new babes to the world, my sister-in-law received both a kidney and a pancreas. Those of you with any experience at all in the world of organ transplants know that when the decision is made to proceed, nothing involving teams of human beings moves faster. Except for carrier ops. So, getting the highlights of the procedure nearly a month after the fact is no surprise. In fact, considering that it was my sister-in-law herself that provided the details is not nearly as surprising as what didn’t happen.

As I’ve recounted in these pages, the Twins were born July 1, and after an “other-than-textbook” delivery, my wife was released from the hospital four days later (which included 48 hours in ICU – use your imagination). On July 11, my sister-in-law underwent the transplant. Over the next couple of weeks, knowing nothing of the organ transplants, both my wife and I tried calling my mother to see when we could have her meet her latest grandchildren. Finally, on the 20th, I sent my sister a text asking if she knew anything about our mother. She responded: “Since L’s double transplant last week mom and I are down helping out. We get back on Sunday ….”


No surprise that my brother didn’t send out invitations to have a party during his wife’s hospital stay. And, it doesn’t particularly surprise me that my mother and sister, who couldn’t be bothered to visit the newest members of the family (my mother lives an hour away, my sister about ten minutes), managed to decide to fly to another city, buy the tickets, arrive in the destination city, and set up camp – all without saying a single word to me. But, what does (still) surprise me is that, if I hadn’t asked my sister if she had heard from our mother, I would never have found out that they had left.

(Since I am writing this, I am going to cleverly ignore the fact that I still had no idea how my sister-in-law was doing.)

Like I said, some things don’t lend themselves to alerting the media, or holding a press conference. But, it’s not like my mother and sister were present during the procedure – they didn’t arrive until after my sister-in-law had returned home. And, while there, what was it they were doing that they were too busy to, I don’t know, tell me where they were? What, no telephone? No email? No carrier pigeon?

So, this past Wednesday, August 5 (the Twins have been breathing more than a month), I caught my mother in a weak moment and she condescended to say it would be ok to stop by. For those of you with kids, you know every excursion is an undertaking, and packing up two babies and all their impedimentia (“accessories,” “support equipment” also work, but I have always loved Latin) is a task not to be undertaken lightly. Then there’s Seattle’s traffic (the less said the better).

We picked up Ivar’s (as much as I love Seattle, and Ivar’s, we don’t stop by Ivar’s often enough) and had lunch while mom held the little darlings. In the course of the two or so hours we were there, mom never said a word about the logistics of their trip. Never a word about the messages I left on her telephone answering machine. Heard lots about the health of my sister-in-law. And, of course, some juicy tidbits about her own health and how the latest crisis (organ transplants long forgotten apparently) is something called “Fuch’s Dystrophy.”

Yep, took some photos.

Mom never asked why my wife spent a couple of delightful days in intensive care (amazing how much more thrilling seeing some actor intubated on tv is than walking into ICU to see my own wife “hooked-up” – medically-speaking, of course).

My wife had already heard all the above; and more.

So, it wasn’t a surprise when, on the trip home, my wife apologized to me for my mother. That says a lot more about my wife than it does my mother.