What a difference one week can make.
Last Friday, I was so distraught I came home from work and cried for about an hour. I muscled my way through the weekend, every moment feeling like I knelt before the chopping block, waiting for the axe to fall. I made my way to work on Monday, my heart sinking with every step I took towards my office.
Allow me to explain.
The backstory: Having optimistically gone to film school, and my husband having graduated from acting school, we discovered after an eye-opening event that Brad has bipolar disorder. Over time, we found that he remains stable when he works a part time job, so I've become the main breadwinner. But I had film training, so my route to a full time, permanent job with benefits has been like Don Quixote, tilting at windmills.
At a particularly horrible time in my life, when I worked at a dollar store for a Simon Legree manager, my best friend Connie called me with an offer to be her assistant at her office. I can tell you how it felt exactly. It felt like the scene from Lord of the Rings when Sam is sinking and Frodo grabs his hand to pull him back to the surface.
With one phone call, Connie gave me that elusive office experience that is dearer to a person trapped in retail-worker poverty, than water to someone perishing from thirst. From a wonderful Cinderella time as her assistant, I went to a small office for eight excruxiating months. The boss was a snippy perfectionist who flew into snits, recognizing that I was on a rather steep learning curve. Every day I had to take a deep breath and force myself to take those steps over the threshhold. When he showed me something, I had to learn it immediately or else. So I did. Brad and I were barely squeaking by at the poverty line for a family of two.
I survived that boot camp experience, to land another office job with a dreamy manager and fabulous coworkers - but as a casual, still no benefits, still with enormous pharmacy costs each month to pay out-of-pocket. At least this time I'd climbed aboard the provincial government ship. Of course, getting hired as an actual, permanent employee with the province is all but impossible. Still, I applied for jobs I felt qualified for.
I lucked out by getting pulled aboard the government office I'm with now, again as a casual. Six months into that contract, I interviewed for my job - which was being made into a permanent position. I left for Toronto in October not knowing whether I had a job to come back to. As it turned out, I came in second. I went on unemployment, and in strange timing, was available to be with both my gram and my father-in-law as they passed away.
In January I got called back to the office, again as a casual. I was grateful to be back aboard, grateful to be in a position to once again apply for permanent positions, which I did. Again I came in second. The CEO's assistant took me to lunch to go over my interview, and she gave me feedback on what I could do at the next interview. Which I was grateful to get, even though I felt quite idiotic to need coaching.
I interviewed again - and once again came in second. I was crushed. Truly.
Brad's teeth began aching. He saw a dentist who said two root canals, for $2000.00 each, or two extractions for several hundred dollars each. The doctor put him on antibiotics in the meantime. And painkillers, too, of course.
I interviewed one more time. My manager went over my interview weaknesses beforehand, and once again I swallowed back my pride and was grateful for her generosity. I gave it an Oscar-calibre performance. Then I waited.
My contract was winding down. Still no word. No word. Hiring crawls at a glacial pace at the provincial level. My manager had to go to a conference, but told me not to worry. It's hard not to worry when I keep coming in second.
She got back from the conference, and still no word. My contract was due to end today. Last Friday I was on the edge of sanity. Was I heading into my final week of work? She'd told me when I didn't get the last position, that she wouldn't be able to extend this current contract past the 20th.
Meanwhile, the woman who won my old position started her job, with me training her. Of course she turns out to be a wonderful person. But it's very nerve-wracking to train her and not know if I'll last out the week.
So last week, I came home, sat on the couch with Brad and cried for an hour. He wrapped his arms around me, said not to worry, if I had to go on unemployment again, we'd get by somehow, like we always do.
Monday, I walked towards my office with a heart icing up with dread. My manager was so busy I barely saw her (she's managing our department, plus doing her actual HR job.) Tuesday, I walked towards my office with sweating hands and a rock-hard lump in my gut. My manager called the new woman into her office, and then me. Big, big sweat. Heart absolutely crushing inside.
First thing she said, waving a paper at me, was that the CEO's and Director's signatures were still drying on the approval, and she'd like to verbally offer me my current position. And that she hoped I would accept. (insert hysterically crazy laughter inside me that I had to keep from spilling out)
But wait - it gets better. She asked me - would I prefer my current position, or my old scanning position? I was stunned for a second, but quickly recovered and grabbed for that brass ring. I said I would love to have my old position back. So she switched us, easy as that.
When people quip, 'It's always darkest before the dawn', why does that always sound so poetic, but in reality feels like being tied to a stake in the arena, watching the grate roll up and the lions stroll out?
And now every cell in my body shimmers with rejoicing.