Cracking it

I cracked it on Friday at my weekly meeting with my manager. I’m running on empty, get very little support, and the pay rise that’s been promised to me forever still hasn’t come through. “Haven’t you got that yet?” was his surprised response.

I’m pretty safe cracking it with him. We have a good relationship and he pretty well thinks I’m the bee’s knees. And he’s sympathetic both to the fact that I’m under-supported, and the justice of a decent pay rise. The irony is that the pay increase has been agreed to and submitted, or so it’s said, and it supposedly it’s a slow turning bureaucracy holding it up, and potentially the CEO – who, apparently, must approve every pay rise.

I’m pissed off, and for good reason. Being run-down probably doesn’t help either, as well as my general discontent at the direction my life is taking. There are a lot of known unknowns.

The lack of support is a big one, and I brought up in my conversation with him. I’m solely responsible for a piece of critical digital infrastructure, but I don’t have the support I need, nor the authority such a role should bring. I have to do everything in that role, from the smallest thing to the biggest, and if I’m not there pushing things along it grinds to a halt—all for a pittance.

I need a cut-out, if only for my peace of mind. It’s particularly infuriating when you consider that 20 people have been added to the department through the pandemic, and we can’t get a single person to help us out.

I reckon we’re just about the most efficient team in the department, and they know it, and figure they can get away with treating us mean because we’ll still get the job done. We’re only just getting by, though. Like I said to my manager, I’d be mighty pissed if I discovered that any of the new starters have come in at a higher salary than me – and, odds-on, some will have.

I know, it’s tough keeping things tidy through a lockdown, but this is the sort of thing that undermines trust and respect. That’ll be the excuse near enough, but I’ve been promised something since March.

I sometimes think to myself that I should take it easier. I should care less about what I do. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned through this pandemic, it’s that not everyone is fully committed. I could try that, but it’s just not natural to me. Maybe it’s corny, but I can only be the person who puts in, even if its just habit and personal pride that makes it so. But when you’re committed to the job, you like to feel that those who pay your wage are just as committed as you. The moment you feel used or exploited or, God forbid, taken for granted, then trust is gone. It’s all words.

All throughout this pandemic, I’ve been flat-out. More things are happening than ever before because we had to sprint to catch-up when Covid hit. I’ve run myriad projects and been part of others. Sitting at my desk and connecting with others via online meetings and email, and the odd phone call, and things get stripped bare. I’ve learned that everyone has an opinion, but responsibility is optional.

Safe in your own home, it’s easy to sit back and cast pearls of wisdom and then disengage once the link is closed. Out of the office, it’s much easier to put it out of mind when it’s out of sight and make it somebody else’s responsibility. Responsibility is a choice.

I’ve always opted to take responsibility. And if I say I do it out of pride and habit that’s true enough, but mostly it’s that I don’t want to let anyone down. I don’t want to be the man that fails you; I want to be the man you can rely on, thick or thin. That’s the contract.

This seems perfectly normal to me: how can it be otherwise? It seems that way to me because that’s how I’m made. But people are made different, and from time to time, I try and explain it to myself. It’s a generational thing, I think, or class, or entitlement, or all of that, or nothing, or some other happenstance. I don’t know the truth and a lot of it after the fact seems like nonsense, and the sort of nonsense we’ve spouted for millennia trying to make sense of things.

Things are what they are. I am what I am. And if I’m old school, then I don’t want to be any other way. I just want my just dues, which is all anyone can ask for.

Ending the discussion with my manager, I mentioned that when considering my position, they should factor in the cost of losing me, which would be a sum far greater than the pay rise due to me. He agreed, and for once there was some possibility it might become relevant.

I get emails every week about jobs. Sometimes, I’m interested – but never interested enough to do anything about it. I’m so jaded that I can’t face the fakery of the recruitment process. That’s just not in me.

But then an email came through spruiking a similar job just a little different. There’s nothing particular about the role – I’m actually overqualified for it, though it offers a good 25K more than what I’m earning now. It appealed to me because I would be managing the one function, rather than juggling multiples of them. As I’ve said before, I no longer feel the need to strive or conquer or prove anything. A good job, properly rewarded, in a good organisation, is probably all I can ask for.

What made it different though is that it’s in the same company that JV works in, which potentially gave me another way in without the fakery. I saw him last night, and we discussed it. I was unsure if he would want me working at the same place, but he was keen and offered to refer me.

An extra $25K over the next 10 years is a quarter mill, and I’d guess I’d move up the ladder regardless in that time and earn more. I’m sending JV my CV today, and he’ll be referring me to the powers that be, and no doubt giving me a big rap.

Whether this happens, or whether it answers the bigger questions I’ve been asking, I don’t know. I’m glad to have an option, though. I’d love to shove it in their face back at work.

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