As you may recall, one year ago my life changed rather drastically.
One year ago today was A Sort Of Hammerfall - Not the complete Hammer Fall of 2009 where I was laid off, but a change of position: after almost 18 years in one line of work I was in, I was transferred to a new area. After almost the same amount of time climbing the corporate ladder, I was being reassigned to an individual contributor position.
The change was jarring, and completely unexpected - although not unmerited; as I related at the time, it is something I personally should have broached much earlier. But done, as they say, is done.
The adjustment over the course of the year was both gradual and jarring: gradual in the sense that responsibilities slowly rolled off my plate and onto the current holder of the office, jarring in the sense that going from being involved in everything, getting 100-200 e-mails a day, and having your opinion needed to being involved in a narrow slice of activities, seeing your e-mails drop by 80% (not a bad thing, that) and moving from presenting opinions to merely facilitating others making them.
Over the year, of course, personnel have changed. Individuals I was involved in the hiring of have moved on and others have come. My imprint is fraying; as with most things, I expect within another year anyone remembering I performed my old task will be few and far between.
All of this said, there remained one outstanding issues, one of incredible import to me: my salary.
The agreement simply said that my salary would continue as is until the regularly scheduled review period. My ability to be eligible for a bonus no longer existed (any more, at all, forever, from the way I lead the letter). And so, throughout the year, I have been waiting for the letter that would tell me that a readjustment was happening.
I had readied myself for it. I had written up budgets to address it.
And so, that season finally came. And my boss called me, wanting to have a "mechanical discussion" - which, knowing him, meant my salary.
He is a very kind individual, and so his introduction to the issue was soft. He said that he was in a bit of an interesting situation with me. He had received letters of salary increases and bonuses for his other employees. He had received none for me. When he asked, he was told I had a "separate agreement". And they would not tell him what that agreement was.
This is unheard of, at least in his - and my - experience. Managers always know their reports make.
He asked me (in a very kind and roundabout way) if he wanted me to press the issue. No need, I responded. I explained where things had been left in principle. And, I told him, to raise the issue now would be violate one of the first rules of work in my world, which is never draw attention to yourself.
In so very many ways, A Sort Of Hammerfall worked out for the best - without it, my ability to travel to The Ranch starting in Summer would not have happened at all. I would not have been able to be here when my parents needed me to be here. And I truly believe another year with the stresses of the previous year would have caused me some serious issues, both physically and mentally.
Nothing is a given, of course. Anything can easily be rewritten at the stroke of a pen. And this still means that in the event of need, I am a very low hanging fruit to be removed. It also means - I suspect - that I will essentially be frozen in place until such time as I leave the company, by choice or by fiat.
But I can live with the ambiguity. Even if I lose that extra "punch" of cash in February, we now know - precisely - how much we will have coming in for the next 1-4 years. And knowing means we can plan all the better.
This is not the place I would have imagined myself when I was called in on a Friday afternoon at 4:00 PM for my review. But having seen it to the other side, I now cannot imagine it any other way.