I left the Other Job nearly three months ago. At the time I had immediate plans to write a blog post as a sort of wrap up to the saga of corruption, disaster, and misery that I’ve been chronicling for the last couple of years. I thought it’d be cathartic. I thought I’d know exactly what I wanted to say.
I didn’t wind up writing that post because I felt like it was all stuff I’d said before, and at the time the last thing I wanted was to extensively revisit that hellscape of disappointment and failure.
In the ensuing months it began to become apparent that going back to what I was doing before the Other Job would be significantly more difficult than just walking away. I had reoccurring nightmares. I had trouble sleeping. I seem to have lost a lot of my creativity, and almost all of my ability to plot stories. Which is, to say the least, absolutely horrifying.
Around Christmas, confronted by the fact that after nearly two months I wasn’t feeling a whole lot better about finally getting away from the Other Job, I sat down and wrote this post. It helped, but it definitely didn’t undo the damage that workplace seems to have done.
I sat on it for a month because I wasn’t sure if I should publish it, or how I should frame it if I did, and I didn’t really want to look at it anymore anyway. But as it becomes more and more apparent how much damage that place did, I feel like this is something that probably needs to be talked about. This is a condensed timeline of the final year at one of the worst jobs I’ve ever had.
Despite My Growing Disillusionment, I Gave It My Best Effort
I provided the company a massive amount of evidence, corroborated by most of the employees in my department and thoroughly documented by the new management who was hired to clean up the mess.
I gave the company a truly generous amount of time to act on that evidence. To close the gaps in their enforcement of safety and workplace competency standards. To improve their hiring practices so that we finally had sufficient staffing for the amount of freight we were expected to handle. To fire those who repeatedly failed to show up for work, or could not complete the tasks assigned.
After I and others in my department took our cases to Human Resources in September and October of 2019, we gave the company over a year to get their house in order. They still failed. I can only conclude that the lack of improvement was deliberate.
A Brief Timeline, In Which the Company Loses All Credibility
The first sign that our complaints weren’t going to be taken seriously hit fast: in late fall of 2019 they allowed our incredibly corrupt former Cargo Supervisor to resign and retain all of his powers rather than firing him outright. This is a guy who literally worked people to death; who drank and used controlled substances while on the job and while operating heavy equipment; and who was well-documented as abusive to those under his command (just to name a few of the issues brought forward).
The second sign was that, after hiring an experienced and competent leader from outside the company to become the new Cargo Supervisor, the company turned around and prevented him from making any significant changes to improve the function and working conditions of our department.
Sign #3: it took an eight-month-long battle to finally get the former supervisor fired. During this time the former supervisor was documented sabotaging the work of other employees, damaging freight and equipment and lying to cover it up, and stealing from the company. And this is by no means a complete list of his terminable offenses.
Sign #4: with the supervisor from hell finally out the door and no longer causing problems, little actually changed. Sure, we all felt a massive sense of relief. The scumbag was no longer barging into the middle of what we were doing and making a mess. He wasn’t sabotaging our work, he wasn’t running across to the Admin building to make trouble, and he wasn’t inexplicably disappearing in the middle of projects he’d been assigned.
But other than that, nothing changed. The company continued to block every attempted we made to make the Cargo department run more safely and efficiently.
The Problems With This Company Run Deep… Really Deep
The next big breakthrough we made involved forcing the resignation of the Cargo Manager who’d let the supervisor from hell run loose for years. Unfortunately the company once again didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to remove the problem altogether, and he was allowed to step down and retreat to an office in the Admin building. He retained his poisonous influence on company leadership, and his status as a member of ‘senior management.’
The new Cargo Supervisor was promoted to Cargo Manager, and we briefly rejoiced that now things were going to change. With all the power that position allegedly wielded, surely the new management would finally be allowed to make necessary improvements like filling the massive gaps in our staffing. Oh, how incredibly naive we were.
The fact that the company refused to allow the new management to do his job was a central point of frustration for us throughout 2020. It seemed like every time we might be making progress, HR would refuse to give it their blessing. Employees who didn’t show up for work for days at a time couldn’t be fired. Promising candidates weren’t extended job offers in a timely fashion. Senior management refused to cooperate with changes that would make it possible to manage our workload with our extremely limited staff.
As our traffic doubled and tripled thanks to the pandemic, our staffing stayed about the same. A core group of five or six people handled a workload that could easily have provided twenty full time employees with jobs. I do not say this lightly when I say that I have never worked so much overtime as I did during 2020.
There were weeks where I exceeded 80 hours. I was informed that Safety had gotten concerned because Payroll tipped them off that I and a few others had accrued more than 350 hours each during the month of July. There were 23 workdays in July of 2020, not counting the weekends; this means that I was averaging 15 hours a day.
This is not normal. This is not healthy. And yet, for our little core group of die-hard Cargo employees, this was life.
A Breaking Point Is Reached
This went on until the end of October, when our new Cargo Manager got so sick of being blocked at every turn by senior management that he walked into HR, turned in his badge and keys, and quit. I can’t blame him. If I had been explicitly hired to do a job, such as fix a department left crippled and vastly dysfunctional by prior leadership, and then was stymied at every turn by the very same organization who’d hired me, I’d run out of patience too.
We all liked the guy. He was fair, easy to get along with, exceptionally sharp, and came into the job with a good understanding of the industry, the challenges we were facing, and how to fix them. If anyone was going to be able to change company culture and fix the Cargo department, it was him. For the company to frustrate someone they explicitly hired to fix the problem to the point that he gave up… that was it. That was the final straw. Any hope of change was officially dead, and we all knew it.
Thus began the exodus.
Some people walked out with the manager. I took a little more time; after all, I had a detailed resignation letter to write and evidence to gather. I knew the company was too desperate (and not nearly smart enough) to fire me before I could do both.
Hilariously enough, when I walked into the Human Resources manager’s office and told him I was turning in my resignation, he had this to say:
“Just give us a little more time. Please. We’d really hate to see you go. We’re working on fixing Cargo, and we just need a little more time.”
I wanted to shout at him. I wanted to unload all the rage and stress and frustration I’d been working under for the last several years. Instead I just smiled and told him that wouldn’t be possible. After all, they’d already had more than a year to make Cargo a viable workplace.
Executing A Strategic Exit
Every shred of evidence and every record I had access to was backed up and turned over to the appropriate authorities. I urged my remaining fellow diehards to consider other employment opportunities and to use me as a reference– after all, I had been part of their leadership. I said all my goodbyes and set up external lines of communication with those I wanted to stay in touch with. And then, with all my ducks in a row, I walked into HR about a week after my initial post-management-departure visit and turned in my badge and keys.
I did everything right. And yet, inexplicably, leaving hurt.
It wasn’t the act of giving up. In my opinion there’s no shame in abandoning a lost cause. I’ve only survived as long as I have because I can recognize a sinking ship.
It wasn’t that there were trash employees we hadn’t been able to get rid of who would be left to continue leeching off the company and their fellow workers. They’re just as miserable there as everyone else, and they won’t be able to find anything better thanks to their own unemployability.
It certainly wasn’t that I’ll miss the company or their customers– I had such a high opinion of my workplace that I refused to wear anything with their logo on it. When asked what I did for a living, I’d say I worked for a regional airline and then change the subject.
I Had To Leave Behind Good People & Abandon What I’d Fought So Hard To Build
It bothers me more than I can accurately describe that I couldn’t get the rest of the good people I worked with out of there too. Truth be told, there were good people scattered throughout the company in other departments. When I sent out an email letting everyone know I was moving on, the number of people who responded to wish me well and express their sadness was truly astounding.
People said they didn’t know what they would do without me. There were dozens of last-minute requests for me to explain my processes and teach them to others. The IT staff even insisted that I teach them how to correct the issues that persistently popped up with our freight and flight management software, Takeflite. (Something which I’d offered to do when I first developed the fix.)
People told me that I was the one they went to when they had tough questions, because “you know everything. And if you don’t know, you’ll know who will.” This was astounding to me. I never expected to become a critical resource in just three years. All I’d done was develop answers to the many, many questions I had when I started, and which no one could answer.
I guess it’s rather karmic that the company allowed a single person to become the bulwark that held up so many processes, rather than expending the money and effort to build proper structures. They relied on my reliability; on the fact that I was on the clock and responding to disasters and emergencies and frantic questions from 5 am until at least 7 or 8 pm. (I stopped responding later than that because it made HR and Safety uncomfortable that I was visibly working that many hours.)
Meanwhile, the company consistently failed to provide me with a basic level of support and compensation. Want more staffing so you’re not doing three to five people’s jobs? Go f*ck yourself. Want more pay to compensate for the number of extra jobs you’re doing and the expertise in multiple fields you’re clearly demonstrating? We don’t feel that’s warranted. Want senior management to stop jerking your department around and abide by the company’s own published rules and regulations? Sorry, that’s just not how we do business.
Wait, what do you mean you’re leaving??
I’m slowly getting over my guilt about walking out. Regaining my mental health and my ability to write looks like it’s going to be a longer journey, and I may do a second post to cover that subject. I promise it’ll be shorter. I know this has been a long post, and I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read all the way through the end of my Other Job journey.
Until next time, friends. Stay safe out there, be good to each other, and keep making the world a better place.