Anxiety, Cheese Got Moved, Brokers, Union League, Lack of Sleep & Yeti – A Middle Class Guy week in June 2017.
Typically, I like to share something that I have learned from reading, or something somewhat inspirational.
This week, I have had to remind myself to take my own advice, or the advice of others that I have shared with my readers via this blog several times.
Although Friday is not technically over, this has already been quite a stressful week for me, even more so than those winter weeks when my cars were not functioning, but not as stressful as when our son was hospitalized with salmonella last fall.
Monday started out typically enough at work, which changed drastically when my boss’s boss summoned me to my boss’s office. This rarely happens, and I thought that I may be in some sort of trouble. When you deal with as many business owners, property owners, potential developers and Village residents as I do, it is inevitable to piss somebody off. No matter who it is and if they are in the right or the wrong, it still demands an explanation. It is rare, but it has happened that some business owner or resident in the town complains about me specifically.
My Cheese Got Moved
What I was told is that I was being transferred to another department, after being hired by my boss and working for him since May of 2005. I am very loyal to my boss because he has been very loyal to me and the others within our department. Every time that I have come under fire, he has come to my defense. He has taken me out to lunch several times over the years, he always gives me a great annual review which in turn becomes a raise in salary, and he has provided professional advice to me too many times to count, and personal advice, as well.
During the times when loved ones have passed away, including my father, both of my grandfathers and my wife’s mother since I have worked for him, he has always given me the time that I needed for bereavement before asking me to return to work. He has helped me in many ways, including the one that I am most grateful for, hiring me from the terrible work situation that I was in from 2002 through spring of 2005. My soon-to-be-former boss is what us Jews call a Mensch.
On Monday night, I had so much anxiety that I could only sleep for about three hours.
Tuesday was worse.
I should explain again that I am an economic development professional and that every municipal employee in whatever capacity they are in either reports to a department head, which I have been before (in the bad work situation 2002-May 2005) or to a Village or City Manager or Administrator. It is a matter of semantics what they call the top dog of a municipality.
I was told on Monday that I was being transferred to the Administration Department, which makes some sense considering the importance of my role within the community. That is the department that works directly with the Mayor and Board that governs our community. I like being in the Community Development Department, but my days there are numbered.
On Tuesday, I was summoned to the Assistant Administrator’s office and asked a series of simplistic prepared questions. The guy is nice enough, but not the sharpest tool in our community’s shed. He started as an intern about eight years ago, when I was already a nine-year veteran in the field of economic development. I taught him some of the basics along the way and have been generally friendly with him.
As the questions continued, “What can I do to make your transition better?” “Are there any things that you feel should be improved upon?” it dawned on me that this young man was using the word “I” a lot. Being a smarter than average bear and an avid reader and a long-time economic developer and former probation officer, I am fucking great at reading between the lines and non-verbal cues.
He was trying to look very serious and professional and authoritative in his questions and comments, so it dawned on me after about five minutes that he is going to be my new boss.
Thus my anxiety the past three days.
Tuesday night, I required one of what I refer to as my sleeping pills, not something good like Ambien or Restoril, but Tylenol PM’s with 500 mg of acetaminophen.
Although you probably would not think of this as a great night’s sleep, I got a solid five hours in a row in, which is damned good for me. I fell asleep around midnight after watching the end of a Cubs victory, and woke up to urinate around five.
Although I tried not to, I kept replaying this young guy’s words to me of how eventually everyone will work for someone younger than them. Although it may be true, I was not prepared to go from a very wise boss who will turn sixty-four this September, to someone half his age and far less than half of his experience and wisdom. My new boss is thirty-two and I will turn forty-seven around Thanksgiving.
My current boss already told me earlier this spring that he was planning on retiring around his sixty-fifth birthday, which will be in September of next year, so I figured that I did not have to worry about having a new boss for at least fifteen more months, and I assumed that it would be his deputy director, who I know well, have a fair deal of respect for, and have already worked with for twelve years.
It should be noted that despite my stressful and less-than-great Monday and Tuesday, I took nice walks during my lunch hour both days and took my dog for long walks after work.
On Wednesday it started to sink in a little more. It was announced that this transfer is taking place throughout our Village government, and people started asking for my take on it. It was a strange mixture of shock, words of encouragement, and people coveting my office and seemingly hoping that I fail.
Wednesday is when I told my children about it too, who were surprised to hear that the young guy who was an intern just a few years ago will now be my boss. An interesting point – in one of my last posts, I wrote about IQ, but not in the typical sense. I realized that although my new boss’s traditional IQ or Intelligence Quotient is most definitely lower than mine (I would bet ten grand on it), he has a high Implementation Quotient.
He does not question or ponder the orders from above him, which is viewed as a good trait by most but not all people, he just carries them out. On the other hand, I always question the wisdom of the orders from above and often try to change the minds or strategy. In some of the cases, they see the practicality of doing things my way, but in many cases they do not. I have ultimately been proven right more often than wrong.
On Wednesday, I also happened to have been invited to an open house at a new industrial building in the community where I am employed. I mingled with dozens of industrial real estate brokers who all seemed to be doing well in the competitive world of Chicago-area industrial real estate.
There was not a car in the lot older than two or three years old, and none that did not cost at least $50K. There were gold Rolexes, Armani and Brioni suits, and shoes that cost more than all of my family’s footwear combined. Besides industrial real estate, the conversations centered around weekend homes, travel, golf, sailing and other such upper and upper middle class topics.
My New Yeti
I actually had a very pleasant time and chatted with several brokers whom I have previously worked with on projects in my community. The hosts of the luncheon, with food provided by a taco truck inside the building, handed me a Yeti travel mug on my way out.
Begging off because I already have a travel mug that I have used daily for about ten years now and another in backup, the broker that I was walking out with urged me to take it, insisting that it was better than whatever I have been using. He said that he uses a Yeti Rambler every day and that it keeps his drink ice cold for up to five hours. He also mentioned that it retails for about $25.
My Mom did not raise a fool, so I am now the proud owner of a Yeti Rambler, which I may never mention again but I do plan on using.
After all, I may have to increase rather than decrease my coffee consumption to exert enough energy to please my new Millennial boss man.
Wednesday night, I took my daughter and our dog to the local town square, where my avid reader daughter stopped into the library to check out four books while I walked our dog. I bought her a froyo and then got my own, too. Hers was 8 ounces and mine was only about three.
After watching another Cubs victory, I tried to no avail to not think about my work situation, replaying it in my head repeatedly, despite my best efforts to think about other things not fit to write and also making money some other way besides my job.
Again, I fell asleep sometime around midnight, and woke up just before five o’clock. My wife and daughter were sleeping together in a tent in our backyard Wednesday night, and when I got up to use the washroom, I heard the door open and my dog run in. She snuggled me a bit while my wife used our other half bathroom, and my day had started. I could not get back to sleep, looking at the clock every half hour or so to calculate how much sleep I could get (two hours, one and a half hours, one hour…).
I embarked to work Thursday, where I got hammered on all day fielding phone calls, requests and demands from my current boss and future boss, and spent most of the day filing through my drawers and bookshelves trying to ferret out things that I do not need to move to my new office.
I moved along many personal items, some of which I will detail in upcoming posts, including a notebook where I followed dozens of stocks for many years, my recipe collection from magazines and papers read at work for about the last fifteen years, a file that I kept on a customer service policy that I crafted for my former employer, file after file of architectural renderings and site plans for projects that never came to fruition for a host of reasons.
It is actually kind of a good feeling filtering through some of these things that have no need to reside in the drawers of my new office, which may or may not even have a window depending on where the bosses move me. They had originally instructed me to move into a tiny windowless office, but I did get my nerve up enough yesterday to request that someone in a bigger and better office with a window be relocated into that closet-like space. It may not happen, but I know that I would have regretted not asking. Since I meet with many prospective and current businesses, I thought that I should have a nicer office than someone who rarely deals with the public. I will be sure to mention it in the weeks to come if my request is granted.
If my request is not granted, I cannot help but feel like Milton in Office Space.
The Union League
Believe it or not, I have attended the Harold Washington Literary Award dinner at the Union League Club of Chicago for the past six years. Someday I will explain why in more detail, but suffice it to say that my $260 ticket got me some wine, a fantastic dinner unbefitting of a thoroughly Middle Class Guy, an even better dessert, and I had the chance to rub elbows with some distinctly upper class residents of Chicago. These people do not live in the war-torn west side or south side neighborhoods where your life is constantly in danger, nor should they.
I also attend a two-day conference on Tax Increment Financing (TIF) policies and practices at the Union League every fall, but do not know if that will continue under my new boss.
I took the train in from a suburban Metra station closest to my home, spent several hours at the awards dinner, got a ride back to the train from the “real” published author who I attended with, and then took the train back to the suburban station very late at night, and drove home to my middle class home in my lower middle class subdivision.
Having a lot of ankle pain last night, I took a Tylenol fairly late, around midnight, at which time I also remembered to take my Lisinopril. I only mention this because after getting only about five hours of sleep each of the first three nights of this week, I figured that I was due a good night’s sleep. That was not the case. The mixture of the two large glasses of wine that I consumed, the day that began before five and ended around midnight getting home from a fancy downtown awards dinner, my high level of anxiety due to my new boss being fourteen years younger in age and fifty years younger in wisdom and experience, and the Lisinopril and acetaminophen, damned if I could fall asleep by about 4:00 a.m.
Not bad if it’s a weekend and you can lay in bed until 10:00, but no. I was up again around 6:00, having attained about two hours of fitful sleep.
If I was not such a borderline workaholic who once went about six straight years without taking a sick day at my current place of work, I would have definitely taken one today. I have about 94 on the books, and that includes cashing out as many as they would allow me to the last few years, at half pay.
So no, I did not take a sick day today. I wasn’t really sick, anyway. The more appropriate term would have been a Tired Day or what I think they should allow us to call it, a Mental Health Day.
I did end up cheating my employer somewhat today. My body was, indeed, at my desk for the seven allotted hours, not counting my one hour for lunch. I also admit to purchasing a book during my lunch hour today from the local library.
I might as well have not been there, except that I spent at least four hours digging through my shit, recycling about a thousand pieces of paper. For once, if there was any doubt as to whether I might need to reference it again or not, I tossed it anyway.
Don’t get me wrong. My office is by no means clean or neatly organized. There is just a lot less paper in the drawers and on my shelves. I took a lot of it home, too, where it will be photographed or scanned for purposes of upcoming posts, and then moved along into the landfill or recycle bin.
The original working title for this post was supposed to be “My Cheese Was Taken Away,” in reference to the famous Who Moved My Cheese? book. I guess that my cheese was not really completely taken away, since I do remain gainfully employed for the time being.
As I told my wife after my third nearly sleepless night in a row this morning, I cannot just write about being resilient, amenable to change, and facing challenges that inevitably come up. I need to live it, too. As I share the details of this major change and how I cope with it and ultimately thrive, it will be more compelling for my readers.
Everybody likes to read about how others overcome adversity, and this is my chance to do so.
So here I am at home on a Friday evening. My daughter, who recently graduated eighth grade, is at Great America for the first time with her BFF and her family. My wife is watering the many new plants that she purchased this week at the Home Depot and a local, upscale nursery for a total of about $200, and our son is downstairs playing some video game.
I just cranked out this 2,900+ word post in about eighty minutes after taking my dog for a long walk and enjoying a fantastic dinner of stuffed green peppers prepared by my wife and son, and Asiago cheese bread that I purchased at Panera on the way home. My wife and son also made a home-made cherry pie for tonight although, truth be told, I am not a big fan. I love pies and when I say love I mean I really love pies. Just not so much cherry pies.
I’m thinking hard about taking a bath and enjoying the last Schofferhofer while reading a good book. Later I will most likely pop a Tylenol PM, and then hopefully I can relax enough to get some sleep and be more like myself tomorrow.
Wish me luck.