No Surrender, Yes Retreat


Some of my friends and former co-workers are of Japanese ancestry, so I picked up a few Japanese words over time. “Ganbare” is one of them, and it means “persevere”. I’m not Japanese, but I understand from those friends and former-coworkers the Japanese sentiment of “no surrender, no retreat”. In fact, it was extreme action taken by the Allies during World War II that finally forced Japan to surrender.

Giving up is something I don’t consider as an option, but when the amount of time and effort exceeds the benefits of resolving an issue, or introduces a new issue that is equally problematic, it’s time to wave the white flag. What happened to me over the last two weeks is an example of the “no-win scenerio”.

Earlier this month, I was invited to a group interview at a company that had positions available. I can’t tell you the name of the company nor can I tell you what the job was about because of the many non-disclosure agreements I signed in good faith. All I can tell you is that the job paid minimum wage, it was not an I.T. job, and that right after the end of the group interview, everyone who attended, including Yours Truly, was hired on the spot.

This was not a scam. The company is legit. The shock of being hired right at the end of the interview stayed with me even after I got home. I couldn’t believe it, but I had the employment offer and all those documents I have to sign in my laptop bag as proof it was true. I was hired, and was scheduled to report for (in company) paid training. Once the training was done, I and the other new hires would be doing real work. Overtime was expected, even weekend work, but that’s fine. I did my share of overtime and weekends during my 20 year I.T. career, so stuff like that never bothered me.

I didn’t know what the format of this training was going to be like, but I’ve been on lots of in-office training sessions during projects and skill upgrades with the last three companies I worked for. It was either held in a conference room if not a main seminar room, equipped with speakers and a large presentation screen so everyone could hear and see what was going on. I assumed it was going to be no different for this company.

Wrong. The training had no speakers or presentation screen. The acoustics were horrible and the overhead vents made a racket. The only way I could hear was cupping my hands behind my ears to hear better but even then I was missing key points and giving myself a tension headache by the end of the day. Despite this aggravation I decided to tough it out.

Next morning I woke up with a stiff neck and shoulders from trying to listen with my hands around my ears, but a hot shower fixed that. I arrived on time for work and it was the same thing all over again. I was getting very concerned. I’m not learning anything. I can’t understand half of what is going on, and I can’t get anyone’s attention because the acoustics were that bad.

The format and execution of the training session was causing other issues not related to training as well. I was spending so much time trying to understand what was being said, I didn’t have enough time to properly learn how to log on and log off  the company system. For that, I got a reproach.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I worked for 20 years as an information technology professional on various ERP solutions at my last job and I was an absolute stickler when it came to security. I made sure users were forced to change their passwords often and configured the system to disallow previously used passwords. If a user wanted access to a system, they didn’t get it until the Sarbanes-Oxley process was followed and approved by my manager. If someone in my information technology department wanted to change the system, again not until I get approval from my manager. My manager also had to approve the change to travel from development to production. Every year when an audit was done, no fault was ever found on my end about a change being allowed by myself without approval. Never, ever. I always had my manager’s signature approving it. As I said, I was a stickler when it came to system security and proud of it.

Yet, here I am, working at a minimum-wage job that had nothing to do with information technology, and I’ve just received a reproach for not logging off because the training session was getting in the way of learning how to follow computer security policy as a user. I was sick to my stomach.

I knew what I had to do at this point.

I returned the job-related items to my manager explaining it was not going to work out. I was asked if I was all right, and as I turned toward the door I said, “Yes, I’m fine”.

And I was fine. I had the good sense to leave well before the real job started, more than enough time for the company to find a replacement. I also felt that if I could not learn what was needed from the training session, I was not going to deliver the quality of work I would be proud of. That’s unacceptable in my book. When I’m on the job, I do nothing but a good job.

I don’t view this as a surrender. It’s more like a tactical retreat from an unsolvable, unwinnable scenario. Come Friday morning, I’ll fire up the job search war machine again and it’s back on the hunt for employment (*ugh* after I take another hot shower for my stiff neck and shoulders!)

Who knows: if I was hired this month, another job could be right around the corner!

Thanks for reading!

David

P.S. Because I did actually earn a paycheque (even if it was for training), I was employed for two days. This means my longest unemployment streak ended at 1017 days. That’s 2 years, 9 months, 13 days. Now the counter is reset 🙂

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