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the sweet taste of freedom!

Every day the wonderful folks at WordPress send us ideas to write about.  Tonight’s suggestion has to do with bravery.  A good one.

But, I rarely use the suggestions because always have something specific I want to write about.

And tonight, I have something specific I want to write about and it happens to be about bravery.  I’m writing with the mind and the heart and the soul of someone braver than me, but who is me.

The topic sent by WordPress writer, Scott Berkun, is “Where do you go to be brave.”    Bravery is a place, I found out today.  It’s a place of intuition and knowing.

Bravery is also knowing when to break a pattern after you realized it’s too harsh to be vital, too rigid to be kind, too unhealthy to be loved.

It was the classic way to quit.

I stood up and said: “I’m not going to put up with this!  You’ll have my resignation before the end of day.”

I even slammed the door on my way out!

No crying, no remorse, no dramatics.   I just did it.

“No, Andrea!  You don’t have to do this,” the Employee Services Director said as I turned to leave….

(It was SO like a movie!)

“You don’t have to do that, Andrea.”  I shot back, “Oh, yes I do have to do this!”

I’d had it with their 19th century Scientific Management-like sick rules.  I was done.

Well, I’d made my decision a while ago, but I was too afraid to give up the pay check.  That was the only thing between me and freedom – that damn paycheck.

I needed a push and I got it today.  I needed to be humiliated out of that inflexible and harsh environment.

Today the last straw was handed to me like a gift.

Things happen for a reason.

I needed the push and I got it.

I needed to get out of there.  It was a prison.  Literally.

The stark truth is, when a whole department of people use words like Concentration Camp, or Nazi Germany, and they are dead serious, there’s a problem.

I would describe it as:  having a harsh culture, punitive, inflexible, anti-team work, and consciously putting employees last….

For me, it’s about principal and common human decency.

When a person, like me, who is salaried, works like a maniac, evenings and weekends to deliver on a really great project, but in the past have occasionally been 1, 2 or 3 minutes late…. only once I was 7 minutes late – does it makes sense?

“It’s our policy.  You broke our policy, Andrea.”

I was at my desk, deeply concentrating on a project, when my (now former) boss tapped me on the shoulder and said she needed to meet with me.  She said we’re going to an upstairs conference room.  At first I thought they were giving me a raise, or a promotion, or something wonderful!  Well, that thought was brief.  My intuition told me something was wrong.

I asked, “Is something wrong?  Did I do something?”  Nothing, she said.  It’s nothing.


On November 10th, apparently, I was two minutes late to work, and that was the final straw.  I was given a  “write up.”

There were fourteen instances of my lateness on the write up.  September, 2 minutes. October 1 minute.  October 3 minutes.  October, SEVEN minutes – that was the worst.  November 10, that was the final one on the list.  (I’ve been on time everyday since then because the traffic-clogging construction ended.)

So, I was last “tardy” on November 10th.  Today is December 13th.  “Why the delay?,” I asked.  Because it takes that long to have Human Resources do the paperwork.

It’s true.  I’ve seen them take two months to fire someone.  It’s true.

An employee was allowing someone else to punch them out of the time-clock that hourly employees use.   When it became known this had happened, a time or two, they talked to both Administrative Assistants.  They both thought they’d surely be fired.  Then, nearly two months passed and nothing happened.  They thought they were free and clear.  Then, one of the women was called in and was fired for allowing someone to punch her in and out.

Ah, you’re probably thinking, why fire only one?  Shouldn’t the other woman get fired, too?  Well, you’d think so, wouldn’t you?

It didn’t happen.

Why?  Favoritism.  The one Administrative Assistant worked for the university for nearly 30 years.   And, her daughter worked there, too.  If Mom got canned, the daughter would leave, too, and she was too valuable.  So, the one who should have been fired was not.

I was an Associate Director.  And, salariedExempt!   Exempt means, “exempt” from overtime pay.  As a salaried worker, I don’t get overtime for the extra twenty hours a week I generally worked.

So, I’m free.

I knew immediately that resigning was the right thing to do.

I know, I know!  The economy is in the tank.   I am not worried.  Not in the least.

I have thought and thought and thought very seriously about quitting for the last six months.  What stopped me?  The paycheck.   And even though I hardly have any money to my name right now, I am not in the least worried.  I’m not sad, I have no reason to worry or cry, or moan, or anything.

I did the right thing.

Tonight feels like the first day of the rest of my life.

Something wonderful is coming…..  It’s just around the corner….it’s gonna be great.

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