The Winds of Change
Less than 90 days ago, I learned our company was being acquired by a larger company and my peers and I would be laid off.
Because I live in a financially depressed area, not to mention being over 50, I sought a new position. My track record was exemplary and I am anything but a slacker.
I was anxious to find a new position before the 4th quarter because companies often have a hiring freeze then. I had three offers and chose one. The position was local, but most of my team would be remote. I would have only one coworker.
After six interviews, including one with the young man I would work with, everyone agreed on me. My first day on the job the young man was sullen and seemed genuinely unhappy I was there. He said he’d been there alone for four years, so I thought he’d be thrilled to have help.
Instead he refused to help me. No tour, no introductions, no sitting with him to learn routines. I decided he was having a bad day. But things got worse.
By day three I asked him to please, please sit with me and apologized for anything I might have done to offend him. I asked if we could start over. He kept making reference to my resume, saying I “looked good on paper.” He insulted me by intimating my skills are out of date and he’s not comfortable working with a woman.
I finally let him know I have 35 years of experience and was not looking to him to teach me how to do my job, just how things were done there. That backfired. He threw it back in my face saying with that much experience I should know what to do.
The guy is about 24, I’d guess. I’m small, soft-spoken and a team player. I’ve been doing my job longer than he’s been alive. We do not have the same title. I am the more senior but not his manager.
On the fourth day I received a call from my boss’s boss. He started the conversation by yelling and wanting to know why I did this or that. I had no idea what he was talking about! He said my coworker had called several times saying things that were patently untrue.
I did my best to repair the situation then and there. I kept trying to believe this was miscommunication and things would get better. I had only been there a week!
Another week went by and I did my best to stay busy, cleaning and organizing. We sit two feet away and my coworker cleans up with compressed air, blowing dust into the air and toward me. Then he’ll laugh.
By the second week I learned he contacted HR multiple times about me. HR called and wouldn’t tell me why, but wondered how I could have fooled everyone. I asked her if she checked my references and asked what sense it would make for me to completely change my modus operandi.
Our VP visited our site. He told us to get along and told me to take control as I am the “more senior” person. He warned us not to contact HR again. Later the VP checked back. Since things hadn’t gotten any better, I spoke up and responded via email what I was seeing and experiencing.
That was two weeks ago and I’ve not heard anything back.
Of course, I am looking for a new job, but things are tough and my age makes them tougher. This is my last chance to make a decent salary, and I feel he’s trying to get me fired or get me to quit.
I cannot quit. I cannot afford to be out of a job. I am upset and scared.
Robin, your long letter deserves a full response which we will give next week.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of January 4, 2016
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