One good reason

Posted on March 2nd, 2010 12 great comments. Room for one more!

If there’s any surliness in this post dear reader, I apologize. Unfortunately, it looks like my full-time status with my current employer is about to come to an abrupt and screeching halt. Well, I’ll try to avoid the screeching, but I’m loathe to put in even an hour more. Not as an employee anyway.

Let me explain.

As you may be well aware by now, I’ve been putting in some insane hours lately. Around 300 for the last month, according to my rough estimate. Fair enough, they warned me it would be crazy. Can’t say I was always peachy when it came to losing weekends, weeknights, sleep, nerves, and basically my entire life for the last two-and-a-half consecutive weeks (I was only doing 12-hour to 14-hour days before that). Laundry, Ollie, and kitchen sink all suffered – not good situations. But, I’d hoped that the extreme flexibility they were requesting of me would be reciprocated. All said and done, I’d worked roughly two weeks extra during the four weeks. None of that was because of any deadlines I’d missed, I should point out. Seems like that was just how the thing was scheduled.

So, I was asking for three days off. Three measly days.

I figured asking for overtime pay wouldn’t fly, and besides, I really just wanted some time to rest and recuperate – get my wits back together before taking on my newly added duties (begin managing the other developers as part of my seniorness). Apparently they’d already booked me on another project but when I requested my time off they tentatively switched me to another smaller one. Cool, I thought. Guess it shouldn’t be a problem – they’re shifting stuff around to give me some room. Plus, the new project really shouldn’t take more than a day or two. Three if the computer bursts into flames halfway through.

It struck me as odd was that I was asked to fill in a vacation request form. Again, though, I thought it shouldn’t be a problem. Just paperwork. I’d finally get some rest (plus the time to do all the other things I’d been neglecting). That’s all I really wanted.

article clipping, over work, karoshi, toronto, city, life

Spoke to the head of H.R., told him I really needed some time off, told him why. “Oh, I don’t care one bit, I know it’s been crazy around here”, he replied. Still cool, I guess. Came across as a bit non-committal but he seemed to genuinely not care about me getting away for a few days.

Spoke to the managers on my initial project (currently on vacation), they didn’t think it’d be a big deal. But they’d be out of the picture so…

Unfortunately, it seems that the new project manager (who today, possibly yesterday, returned from vacation and isn’t “quite with it” yet), booked me in for this Friday. Ooh, part of my three days off – no can do. And I’m pretty sure that I didn’t even exist on this project until this week so I’m not sure how that commitment got made. How many times did I tell them I need some time off? And just to add some extra pique to this, I later found out that this thing isn’t going out until mid-March, so the urgency of forcing me in this Friday really escapes me. Fairly certain the weekend would be involved too, you know, for all the stuff that’d be overlooked. Not my first time down that path, you must understand.

Perhaps there’s some question about my willingness to put in the hours or effort to get things done? Perhaps my seniority doesn’t apply to my ability to estimate the amount of work involved?

So I raised a concern.

It went up the chain of command.

I got the hand in the face.

Not only the hand, but reminded that I’m still on my probationary period and don’t really even qualify for vacation – I’m lucky to get two days (that’s my word but that was the implication). I was reminded that I’d been duly warned, the hours weren’t the typical 9-to-5. Oh yes, I understood that going in, I said. I just didn’t realize that I would be expected to hand over my life, health, etc., in exchange for a pat on the back and the opportunity to add to my ulcer collection for what amounts to less than minimum wage (salary divided by hours). Okay, to be fair, that will be true at the end of this month when the new minimum wage kicks in, but it’s not far off the current mark. Did I mention I took a bit of a pay cut to work there?

In other words, this schedule is expected of me and it’s a bit rude to even be asking for a break. When I was told I’d be giving up my first-born, I didn’t think they were being serious. Perhaps that’s my fault. Perhaps I misunderstood. But, as Danny Glover so eloquently put it, “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

Don’t worry, dear reader, I’ll let them down gently. After all, freelance work would probably be considerably more advantageous there. At least that’s what the freelancers I work with lead me to believe. And, you know, I’m okay with a thank-you note in the form of cheque – for every single hour I’ve put in. Not like they wouldn’t be getting their money’s worth. The company-wide email with my name in it doesn’t really do it for me, to be perfectly honest. Also, the ability to refuse the next project is quite handy.

Heck, I would’ve scrounged up enough for a month off at this point. Instead, I get a guilt trip for two days. They were grudgingly approved in the end, except I’m not sure they’re technically a “vacation” so much as “the law”. Seems like I shouldn’t have to fight for that.


That just won’t do :(

12 Comments on “ One good reason ”

  • Renee
    March 3rd, 2010 5:41 am

    wow!! :| unbelievable that they'd stretch you right to the breaking point….and even after you've broken, to continue! well, sounds like your plans are for the best. Good luck with everything and keep us posted to when you're "free". :)



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  • Patrick
    March 6th, 2010 8:29 am

    Free as I write this. And, surprisingly optimistic. It's a beautiful day outside, stuff's happening in Toronto — maybe this is exactly what needed to happen.

  • The Twitterer
    March 3rd, 2010 7:45 am

    i used to have that kind of work too and they also "warned" me that i might be working on overtime and extended hours. they didn't tell me i'll never have a life anymore.

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  • Patrick
    March 6th, 2010 8:30 am

    Yup, Twitterer. The not having a life I did willingly, assuming that I'd be compensated. Even just the legal minimum set forth by Ontario law. But apparently that was an outrageous request so what am I supposed to do? Why in the world would I spend another second of my life there? Now I'm on a mission to make conditions human for everyone there.

  • Grace
    March 3rd, 2010 1:56 pm

    When I was a corporate interviewer I always told people how horrid the jobs were; they laughed. They didn't believe me. What was I supposed to say when a month in they said "You weren't kidding" Indeed, I was not. I'm not sure what you do for a living or what kind of company this is but I'd say it's not a nice place to work – and if I had a choice I would book…

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  • Patrick
    March 6th, 2010 8:34 am

    Booked and booked, Grace. To be honest, everything they said about the job was 100% true, the hours were crazy and I would lose a good hunk of my life. What they failed to mention that is that they treat their employees in an illegal manner (and just inhumane besides). Tough, I did and have no issue with. Bullshit, illegality, and lies I won't put up with.

  • Kato
    March 4th, 2010 12:55 pm

    Woah. You are correct, that WILL NOT do. I am glad you a re a smart guy and wont be taking that kind of shit. I am angry for you. I am sitting at my desk atwork getting irrationally angry for you and realizing that a part of it is for me too. Because I have been there my friend, and unfortunately, I still am.

    Do yourself (and me) a favour! Don’t let people think they can get away with that kind of thing!

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  • Patrick
    March 6th, 2010 8:38 am

    All I can say, Kato, is have a gander at the labour code: Sometimes working conditions are shit but still on this side of legal (quit-worthy, for sure), but if your employer isn't following the laws, it's time to bring it up. And if they don't do something to change, move it on up to the government level. And who says you can't get media or the competition involved? I'm certainly not counting that out yet :)

  • Jen
    March 4th, 2010 1:45 pm

    This is why I don't work for anyone but myself anymore. I had a job like yours and had to take time off when my son got sick with strep. I offered to work from home but they didn't do that then. I was told that if I missed one more day because of my son I would be canned. A few weeks later my son was sick again, mind you if he has a fever I can not let him go to school or daycare. I had no one else to watch him and I couldn't leave a 5 year old home alone for 10 hours. I stayed home, got canned and then the next day the company laid off over 100 workers which had I not been canned would have been part of. I probably should have sued them since I didn't get the severance package everyone else got and I got a fired on my permanent record rather than a downsized. I didn't care really, haven't looked back since.

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  • Patrick
    March 6th, 2010 8:39 am

    Inspiring words, Jen … especially considering you had an infinitely tougher situation than me! Taking your advice and looking forward now…

  • Jennifer
    March 5th, 2010 7:10 pm

    ooooh. Best to get out of there.

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  • Patrick
    March 6th, 2010 8:39 am

    One word, Jennifer: done!

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