Saturday, September 24, 2016

Crossroads: A Work Dilemma

An important decision time will soon be coming for me at work. I am usually able to make quick, good decisions for myself, but when it comes to my job, I sometimes struggle.

The recent history: In early 2012, my department at work was in need of a new leader. I actually wrote some posts about this back in 2012. To make this an anti-Rob post, I'll summarize quickly. I decided not to run and agreed to be the interim director for a year to help clean up a huge mess. One year was not nearly enough time to fix things properly, so I continued in the position for another two years. At that point (early 2015), I was concerned what finances might do to my workplace and thought that I wanted someone competent in charge in case some difficult decisions had to be made. The result was that I took on the responsibility of being in charge for another three years. That brings me to now.

Financial issues and a retirement made this the time to merge another department into mine. Meanwhile, I am losing some of my own staff, meaning that I will now be responsible for more things, yet have about the same staff size as before. I know that, no matter what, things are going to change and I have some decisions to make.

Scenario one: I fixed the things that needed fixing and was already considering calling it a day on the director responsibilities next April. I would say "no thank you" and would then have about three years to go until my retirement and could go back to my regular job and enjoy my final years.

Scenario two: I accept the new challenges that will take place next summer and be da man who finds a way to make everything work. This would be a professional challenge, which appeals to me, but would also be a major pain in the ass. I would do this without having all the conditions met that I think are needed in order for me to do this (get an associate director, get a bump in pay, get workers titles and job descriptions changed as I would like, ...) and would likely be frustrated.

Scenario three: I make a take or or leave it offer to my boss, who is in a very difficult position. He's trying to do what he needs to do for the institution and doing what the president wants, yet I also need him to advocate for me. It would be simple: I need this, this and this or I'll finish up my duties and let someone else be in charge on May 1. I return to my regular job and responsibilities and look forward to my final three years at work.

So I am currently perplexed. My boss is having a 1 1/2 day retreat at his house next week in order for our entire unit to work on challenges. He is a good guy, very smart and dedicated, but relatively inexperienced in his job. He is a poker player, so it is fun to talk about job situations in poker terms sometimes.

I have a number of competing emotions and ideas. I am the ultimate team player and think I am a good manager -- certainly a players manager type instead of a business-like company guy. I like challenges, and this would be one. I have a huge ego when it comes to work because I know I am damn good at what I do. However, there are other aspects that bother me. Although I am compensated very well for my regular job, the compensation I receive for being the head of the department is really peanuts. Despite trying to negotiate, whining and even carrying on at times, I haven't gotten been able to maneuver a respectable increase in that pay. Now I am trying to do it when we are having cutbacks and consolidations to save money.

Unfortunately, I also don't think others can understand how difficult my job is and the pressure I am regularly under. I think the appreciation will come after I am gone or out of my current position. I try not to harbor resentment, but there is some there.

Well, this is where I am as of today. Next week's retreat might clarify and some things. I am thinking that I could FINALLY get a bump in pay for taking on more, but I get the feeling that my desire for someone to be bumped up to associate director won't happen. It is difficult when you are solely the responsible person and don't have a back-up with official/compensated responsibilities.

I know that I have many readers who have great business and professional experience. Tell me what you think. I am open to whatever input you have.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Almost Back to Me

Things were not going too badly in May. I had a nice vacation in Las Vegas and was ready for the summer. However, there were a couple of things in my life that had potential to blow up ... and they did.

It had been evident for some time, at least to me, that my wife's supervisor, the principal at a private elementary/middle school, seemed to not like my wife for some reason. About a week or two before the school year ended, an email my wife received led her to believe that she, an at-will employee, would be fired. She confronted the principal, who lied to to her face told her no. Toward the end of May, I was taking part in a big picnic that the directors of my workplace hosted for our employees. During that, I heard from my wife that she had been let go and was treated very harshly. Meanwhile, I am gritting my teeth as I helping run the picnic. It was a shitty day.

Last December, I watched my mom for a few days after Christmas so that thundering36 could get a break away from taking care of her and go to Las Vegas. My mom was not too bad during the time I watched over her, but thundering36 let me know that he saw a cognitive decline in her during the first several months of 2016. In June, my mom seemed to be having some more severe issues, and it was recommended that she go into the hospice in-patient center for a few days for an evaluation. As I got ready to head up to visit in June, my brother told me that I needed to get to the in-patient unit right away. I had just started the trip and pulled to the side of the road, phoned my wife to quickly pack some clothes, went back home to get my wife, and headed to the in-patient center. My family watched my mother slowly die over the next week. She passed away on June 16, the day before my son's birthday.

The next couple months were pretty rough. I had already cancelled a quick return trip to Las Vegas and was forced to cancel a trip my wife and I were going to take to New Orleans. We also had a special hotel room reserved in St. Louis to celebrate our anniversary in July, but I just didn't feel like going.

I got a short respite at the end of July as thundering36 and I went to a couple White Sox-Cubs games, but the afterward the pressure at work was pretty intense. I went back to Las Vegas at the end of August and was joined by my wife for a few days, After returning, more intense work, which finally ended last Friday afternoon.

So in short, my summer really sucked. It was if there were clouds hovering over my head for a few months. I put on weight and overall felt like crap. It was part depression and part just needing to cope with some new realities. All the while I had a ton of pressure at work. Yuck.

However, I seem to have broken through since returning from Las Vegas. I've been on a diet and have dropped eight pounds. For the first time since last spring, I feel like myself again -- for better or worse!

And once again, a heartfelt thank you to my online and poker friends who were around for me this summer and helped me get through these past difficult months. The tweets, text messages, Facebook comments and blog comments all were a part of finally getting my life back to normal. I think I am about there.

Onward and upward. That is the right direction to go, right?

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Attack of the Man-hating Woman

I recently returned from a trip to Las Vegas (Aug 26-31) and have not yet had a chance to post about any of the happenings due to a busy work and leisure schedule upon my return . However, due to some tweets that were sent by myself and Vegas DWP during my Las Vegas trip, I have had several requests to post the story of how I was verbally attacked while playing poker at Caesars Palace. Since Vegas DWP was a witness and not directly involved in the situation, he is a much more impartial observer that I could be. In reality, since I was in the middle of the situation and seething, I don't have a coherent memory of the entire incident myself -- only bits and pieces I remember or heard.

Here is Vegas DWP's account of the situation. Afterward, I will comment.

The Scene:

So I’m playing 1-2 No Limit at Caesars Palace with lightning36.  It’s the first time we’ve met in person, so we’re chatting at the table for a couple of hours in a game that’s reasonably good.  There was a maniac at the table raising nearly every hand, straddling the button, and the action from the other players was rather good.  The table was friendly, if a bit on the quiet side (it was a Monday afternoon, after all) and we were having a nice time.

I was in seat 5, there was a player next to me in seat 6, seat 7 was vacant, and lightning36 was in seat 8.

Just as the button moved to seat 6, the player sitting there got up and left for a break.  About the same time, vile man-hating feminazi sits down in seat 7 right next to lightning36 on his right.

So just as we’re about the be dealt the next hand, I’m the small blind and there is a “missed blind” button in front of the seat next to me (seat 6) as the dealer is preparing to deal the next hand.

The “Incident”

Vile man-hating feminazi is still getting situated, unracking her chips, and doesn’t appear to see that the big blind is now on seat 7, where she’s just sat down.  At this point, lightning36 politely (and I stress, POLITELY, as I heard every word he said) mentions to vile man-hating feminazi that it’s her big blind.

The following conversation goes something like this:

Vile Man-Hating Feminazi (VMHF):  “I KNOW the big blind is on me.  You don’t have to tell me how to play poker, SIR.”

lightning36 (L36):  “I’m not trying to tell you how to play poker, just wanted you to know it’s your big blind, as I noticed you just sat down”


L36:  “I’m sorry, I was just trying to be polite and let you know”

VMHF:  “I think maybe you should just shut the fuck up and play poker”

L36:  [at this point, steam starts to emanate from L36’s ears] “I’m sorry, what did you say to me?”           

DEALER:  “Hey, please settle down and behave yourselves”

VMHF (to Dealer):  “I’m being perfectly calm, when this asshole next to me decides to ManSplain to me how to play poker”

L36:  “ManSplain?  Oh, you’re one of THOSE?”

VMHF:  “FUCK YOU, asshole”

Dealer (to L36):  “I need to ask you to stop, now, or else it’s gonna be on you – we’ll have you removed if you don’t calm down.”

L36 (to VMHF):  [sounding quite agitated by now] “No, fuck YOU, bitch.  Why do you hate men so much?”

VMHF:  “Men are useless – try to find me at least one decent one in this whole town”  [as if any man would go within a 100 yards of this witch]

L36 (to me):  “Can you believe this woman?  Have you ever seen anything like this?”

Me (to L36):  “We were having a nice time until she showed up – people who take the fun out of the game really irritate me”  [I said this loud enough so that VMHF would hear, but unfortunately she didn’t engage me – I would have loved to rip her a new one]

Dealer (to L36):  “This is your last warning – you have to stop now, or you’ll be asked to leave.”

L36:  “That’s actually pretty funny – I’ve never been banned before.”

VMHF:  “You and all of the rest of your kind should be banned from the whole planet”

At this stage, I’m surprised L36 didn’t smack her in the mouth, because that’s exactly what I wanted to do.  Shortly after the exchange above, the player immediately to my right left the game, and VMHF asked for a seat change and sat down right next to me.  I looked over at L36 and muttered “Lucky Me” … I guess VHMF didn’t hear me.

So ... there is Vegas DWP's version of the incident. As he mentioned, the table action was interesting because of the maniac who raised virtually every hand. I had even suggested a side bet between us if either of us was to take a big chunk of his stack (which Vegas DWP actually did, at one point). Although I was down a little at the time, I was in a good mood, as I was in Las Vegas, of course!

I 100% guarantee you that my reminder about the big blind was said in a polite, helpful way. The woman had just sat down and had her face buried in her phone. I was guessing that she was completely unaware that she was going to be in the big blind. I would have said the exact same thing to any guy as a simple matter of courtesy. I was completely astounded that she would talk to me the way that she did.

One thing I have been pretty adamant about my entire life is to not let idiots run over me. My anger was exacerbated by the fact that her invective talk was in answer to my polite, considerate verbal nudge. I just don't tolerate that crap in my life no matter what. In retrospect, I could have handled the situation much better, but she already, in my mind, ruined the fun at the table. For visitors like me who are recreational players and who have limited time, almost the worst thing that can happen is to have the fun taken out of poker.

I do remember, in the heat of battle, mentioning Donald Trump, knowing that it was bound to piss her off. I also remember saying very clearly and deliberately "Some guy somewhere must have really done you wrong at least once." My wife would be happy that, as much as I wanted to, I didn't call her "the C word."

I considered many other things to say, but as a professional counselor who supervises the mental health counseling, academic advising and educational planning for a population of about 10,000 students, it was certainly not a stretch to say it was pretty evident that this woman suffers from some pretty intense psychological issues. I decided that, despite my anger, I was not about to damage this woman anymore than she already is. Believe me, I am pretty sure that I knew exactly what to say that would have messed her up even more ... but didn't I guess that was about as humanitarian as I could get at that point. Or should I have said "huwomanitarian?"

I'm not sure what would have happened if the floor had been called over, which would have been the next step. I guess I would have faced a decision about whether or not I was ready to leave the poker room. I did, however, scan the poker room, looking for a stapler. If only ...

"This guy is the nicest guy in Las Vegas."   A female Bally's Las Vegas poker dealer

"lightning is the friendliest blogger"   Poker blogger Jordan

"Fuck you, asshole!"   Feminazi bitch at Caesars Palace

A BIG thanks to Vegas DWP for providing the gist of this post. He is okay ... for a male ...