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A Nightmare Is a Dream - Right?

When you try on a pair of shoes and you know they hurt like hell, why lie to yourself and say, “Oh, I just need to break them in!” No, you need to find another pair of shoes. When you go on a job interview and you walk out of it saying, “It feels wrong, but I can make it work somehow,” you probably should go with your first inclination and realize this is not the place for you.

Needless to say, I didn’t listen to my own good advice years ago when I embarked on my “worst job ever.” I had spent a lot of years in the engineering field, as an administrative person and then in the marketing field. I wrote proposals, prepared presentations, developed sales and marketing materials, and helped write, direct and produce a company marketing film. The firm I worked at for twelve years was moving to the Midwest, and I was laid off right before the doors closed in the San Francisco office.

I was in my late forties at the time and quite concerned about finding another job in a bad economy with unemployment at an all time high. Still, I went on various interview and was offered a job at an architectural firm as the marketing manager. I knew from the interview that this company was much different from any I had ever worked at. I was used to a very professional engineering environment, including standards of professional dress, and the norm to me was more one of a true corporate culture. The architectural office was not what I had experienced in any of my former jobs. The office was not very well kept up; in fact, it was pretty much dirty. The people who worked there all seemed to be wearing casual clothing, actually, less formal than I would have worn to clean house in. There wasn’t a female in the company who wore cosmetics of any type, and the men looked a little on the scruffy side too, or maybe it was just artistic.

My work experience was a far cry from what was done in the architectural arena. Proposals were exercises in creative writing as much as anything else and I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of the job. What I didn’t enjoy was the constant criticism of my “style” (suits, dresses, pumps with heels, pantyhose, make up and professionally cut and colored tresses).

My first day on the new job I was shown to a workspace that had been vacated some 6 months earlier. Too bad nobody thought it was important to throw out the remnants of my predecessor’s lunch. The moldering sandwich and half a banana awaited me amongst the heaping piles of slides, papers, floppy disks, and what used to be corn chips. Never mind. It was a job!

Little did I know that there was no clerical or secretarial assistance to be had. The architects had “architectural” things to do. I was the marketing manager and the marketing assistant and the marketing secretary and the marketing copy person and the marketing clerk all rolled up into one. This involved me frequently working until midnight or after, then rushing in to complete the proposal or presentation before a deadline of maybe 9:00 a.m. During the course of my employment, I worked between sixty and seventy hours a week.

Oh because I was a “manager” of course, there was never any consideration of overtime. There were also plenty of times that the payday didn’t come on payday but several days and sometimes weeks later. This was not in my realm of experience either.

It was also my responsibility to find leads for the firm. This involved a lot of cold calling potential clients, something I’ve never enjoyed. I also attended a lot of functions on behalf of the firm, and was expected to bring in jobs for the company. I did this with varying degrees of success.

This job was my worst nightmare. If I used any sort of lotion, spray or fragrance, it was loudly complained about. If I wore heels, I was told that I was pandering to male fantasies. (Not just the women were anti-heels, the men were too.) I had no friends, and I had no supporters in this group. Many nights I went home and cried. It sounds easy, go get another job. Easily said. Not always as easily done.

We had mice in the office, and roaches. Nobody except me seemed to mind that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as “zen” as the next guy, but give me a break. Well, ironically, God or some other divine entity did just that—gave me a break. I fell and broke my ankle while out at lunch time and never went back. Mind you, this was after about five years of misery in a job that could not have been more wrong for me. My fear that I would be unemployed, my husband and I would be evicted, starve to death, and that the world would come to a crashing halt proved somewhat unfounded. I did get another job and I’m still here!

When those shoes hurt, rip them off! There’s no breaking them in so don’t even bother trying!