… it almost always is. ” – Unknown
I had a dream I was running along the ledge of a Spanish citadel. Below me there were palm trees and a river that resembled the Tiber in Rome. The ledge was thin, the path viperous, and there were many others behind me, slithering along trying to get ahead of me. Pushing and shoving each other off the perilous ledge, I didn’t want to be here, and I needed to get off.
Commencing the grim climb down along the wall, it started to pour rain, and I saw that there was a basket hanging off the citadel’s ledge. Although it was hanging off dangerously, it appeared to be much safer than where I was currently. Sitting in the basket, there were two brunette women. Also seeking a safety net far removed from the green-eyed path, they allowed me to share their space. The two women provided comfort, shelter, and warmth.
We chatted for some time until one of the girls had to leave. The basket didn’t move as she left. It was my turn to leave and as I attempted to step out, the entire basket tipped over sending both me and the woman to fall to the bottom of the Tiber.
We both hit rock bottom. I thought it would hurt, but it didn’t. It was clear and murky at the bottom, but the visibility was perfect.
I looked to my side and saw that the woman had hit face first, and she wasn’t moving. I swam to her and lifted her off the river bed to help her float back to the top. As she slowly floated, I knew she would be okay. I quickly swam to the surface and I pulled myself out of the Tiber. I was okay.
Having just moved to Miami, this dream came to me about one month before I started a temporary job at the same corporation I was working for back in New York City. Having been approached by the head of operations, I was told that our meeting needed to remain confidential because the present situation was “sensitive”.
When you are woman, and a minority, it is very difficult to terminate employment in a publically traded company. It is a process that takes months. From our meeting, I understood that the two men (animals), I would be working for, were unhappy with their Cuban assistant, whose first language wasn’t English, who was unprofessional, didn’t have a college degree, was slow, and lacked attention to detail.
They loved me, and the fact that I came highly recommended from New York. Within one week I was offered the position. Within two weeks I was told that they couldn’t fire the girl just before the holidays, so I would start after the new year.
Two weeks before I was to start, I was informed that the position had changed and the situation was much more sensitive than initially discussed. My offer was now a temporary offer, to cover for the assistant they were trying to fire, who was going to be out of office on maternity leave. Maternity leave?
Just as I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did.
They wanted her to train me before she left, and if I did a good job, they would reclassify her role, dismiss her on the grounds that she no longer met the position requirements, and hire me instead.
This was not how I wanted to find a new job, for my new life in Miami. Ever.
Needing the money, and the opportunity to get myself out of the apartment away from our newly adopted kitten who had aggravated my asthma, I accepted this temporary position. Upon meeting the assistant, I could assess whether she was as bad as the animals said she was, or if the animals were as bad as my gut was indicating.
As I began training, the symbolism of my dream became crystal clear. I was back in a viperous, competitive, corporate citadel, where everyone was slithering along the thin ledge to the top. Willing to do whatever it takes to get there, pushing aside anyone who stands in the way. I was on a path I never wanted to be on.
Sitting next to the young, blonde (originally brunette) mother to be, along with her best friend who was assisting in the training, it occurred to me, that our temporarily shared cubicle, was the far removed basket on the sidelines of the green-eyed path. A basket that would soon be tipped over, sending us both to fall and hit rock bottom.
Doing the best that we could, to teach, and learn, I saw that this assistant wasn’t the problem. The two animals who were trying to fire their assistant of 3 years because she was pregnant, was the problem.
She was a great assistant- talented, smart, compassionate, patient and kind. Having been there many times before myself, performing heavy volumes of work under extreme abuse is energetically draining. She was doing the absolute best anyone could do who was in her predicament. If they weren’t happy with her, they would certainly not be happy with me.
Sharing with me her account of the past 7 months, I learned, that contrary to what I was told, the animals also thought she was a great assistant. She was such a great assistant, she was promoted twice and even given a crystal award. It wasn’t until they found out she was pregnant 7 months ago, that all of a sudden there were problems.
It was immediately after she had given the news that their abusive behavior increased tenfold, and their calendars filled up with confidential appointments. She knew they were trying to fire her, but she also knew that they couldn’t. Before leaving, they had asked her to think about whether she really wanted to return working here. She didn’t want to return, but with her husband recently out of work, she needed the money.
I immediately started looking for another job.
Not being a competitive person (nor a job stealer), and having worked for abusive men earlier in my career, I decided long ago that life was too short to work with such conniving, toxic people. Within one week I had expense receipts thrown at my face- not handed to me, literally thrown. I was reprimanded for not having attention to detail on projects I wasn’t even a part of. And I was criticized for asking questions- even though I was told to ask questions. It wasn’t until one animal tried to expense his pay-per-view porn rental from his business trip that I began counting down to the end of my contract.
During my one month “review”, I was told that I would not be retained as a permanent employee. They said that they were looking for a paralegal to fill the current role I was in, and they would figure out how they would “deal” with the assistant upon her return.
Federal law mandates that if you are a publically traded company it is incredibly illegal to fire a woman who is pregnant, and it is also illegal to fire her upon her return from maternity leave. Listening to their petty checklist of why I wasn’t good enough to rejoin the company in another capacity, even when another assistant position opened up, it was so hard to not laugh out loud. Their reasoning for not retaining me had nothing to do with my performance, but more so with the fact that they are conspiring to fire a woman because she got pregnant, is now a mother, and I didn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement.
When the assistant came to the office to introduce her little one to the team, I knew my time had come to do the right thing. I told her what was going on, and that she needed to do what she needed to do, to protect herself. Still having access to the calendars, she saw the recent interviews that had been scheduled. She had a feeling that this was what was going on, and even though she didn’t plan on doing anything about it, she thanked me for confirming it for her.
Just like my dream, I am falling from the sidelines of the corporate citadel, spelling the end of my time in a realm of great darkness, vipers, and toxicity. I have found myself at rock bottom, once again, swimming my way out of a place where there was never a real opportunity to begin with.
It has been many years since I was last in Rome, living along the Tiber, and it has been many years since I have also been unemployed. Coincidentally, it’s also been years since I last wrote in this blog! Seeing adversity as one of my oldest, greatest friends, I am looking forward to our sour, sweet embrace once again. As they say, once you hit rock bottom, there is nowhere else to go but up 🙂
Peace, love, and light.
“Maybe it’s not always about trying to fix something broken. Maybe it’s about starting over and creating something better.”