The Unbearable Banishment: a horrible decision to make

Friday, May 15, 2009

a horrible decision to make

Five months ago I was laid off from Benevolent Dictators, Inc., aka, Morgan Stanley. My family and I gutted out four months of unemployment. At one point, 7-Year Old Daughter’s first grade teacher phoned to say that Daughter told her, “My Daddy got fired and nobody wants him.” It was rough stuff.

Four weeks ago I lucked into a consulting gig at A Company Called Malice, Inc., a global investment banking superpower. The financial services community in New York City is flat on its ass and the fact that I found a job AT ALL, much less one in investment banking, is a miracle.

I signed a three-month contract. At its expiration, they can elect to renew it, offer me a staff position or leave me to the tender mercies of the economy.

While the work I’m doing at A Company Called Malice, Inc. is satisfying, it requires 60+ hour work weeks. I’ve not seen my daughters, wife or friends since the day I started there. It’s horribly managed and the workload is heavy.

Yesterday I was pulled into a conference room by the department head. He said that everyone is so pleased with my work that they want to terminate my contract and offer me a staff position straight away. The horrible paradox is that I love what I’m doing, but am afraid I’ll never see my family again. I don't want to overhear my daughters say, “Oh, I never really knew my dad. All he ever did was work.” I don’t want to be weekend dad. I'm not that motivated professionally. I'm just regular.

But I have to be pragmatic. I need the benefits. I could take the job right now and trade up when the economy improves but you have to be careful about stuff like that. You know what they say:

And then one day you find
10 years have got behind you

No one told you when to run

You missed the starting gun

* * *

I’m posting this from Bryant Park near 42nd Street and 6th Avenue. It’s very early in the morning and there aren't many people about yet. It's warm and the sun is just starting to crack between the Chrysler Building and the New Your Public Library and spill onto the freshly sodden lawn. The trees are finally full of leaves. I thank God for this dirty old town that causes me untold heartache and then helps me to get through it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take the job and when the economy gets better look for something else if the hours are still horrible. You can't keep working all these hours forever, remember your not that young anymore (LOL).

How is it that you can take a picture and aim it as if the fountain is spewing in-between the two buildings...just beautiful!

May 15, 2009 at 8:48 AM  
Blogger bob said...

Take. The. Job.

And congratulations.

May 15, 2009 at 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take the job. If they're that enamored of you, perhaps they'll be willing to negotiate hours/vaca/etc.

May 15, 2009 at 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Nurse H said...

I concur with the rest of your fans...take the job...

Congrats...I knew you'd knock their socks off.

May 15, 2009 at 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Nurse H said...

and another thing...perhaps as a FTE, you can be a change agent and help to improve the workflow.

May 15, 2009 at 5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

take it. when things improve, you may be in a position to direct hiring of additional support staff to manage the workload better... and help get someone else out of the unemployment bucket of poo.

things are marginally better - but there's still a long slog ahead.

besides, what is your option: say "no, i'll stay on contract, thankyouverymuch". uh... what are they going to do then? play.more.chess.

May 15, 2009 at 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and by the way - i NEVER saw my father when he got slammed with overtime, third shift, etc. rarely saw him when he was working 7-6pm for that matter...

to say that he is the human who had the greatest influence on who i am (well, at least the good stuff) is an understatement.

May 15, 2009 at 5:44 PM  
Blogger AM said...


All my friends would like to know where they can get one of those handy cell phone jammers.

Any hints?


May 15, 2009 at 10:50 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

MT: I didn’t notice the position of the fountain until you ponited it out. It was an accident.

Bob: I will. And, thanks. Where’ve you been? Are you coming Stateside?

HIF: Yes, they love me, but since I’m a consultant I had to pour on the charm. Wait until they get a load of the “real” me. Heh-heh.

Nurse H: There had better be a change or I’ll beat feat the frist chance I get.

Daisy: That was one one of the most hopeful things anyone ever said to me.

Amanda: Jammers are illegal. I think your friends should worry about their futures. It’s too late for me.

May 16, 2009 at 12:09 AM  
Blogger Blues said...

This is good news. Congratulations.

It's not forever.

Now I'm off to listen to the Jam.

May 16, 2009 at 4:06 AM  
Blogger Ellie said...

What anonymous said...on both counts!

May 16, 2009 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Blues: I saw The Jam booed off stage in Cleveland many (many) years ago. They were the opening act for the Blue Oyster Cult. The audience was all metal heads and bikers. They had no interest in The Jam!

May 16, 2009 at 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take the job.

When first husband was sick, I stuck with a teaching assignment I had outgrown simply because the principal was willing to let me play fast and loose with my sick days. I sucked it up for two years and was eventually rewarded with a transfer to a much better fit that he helped me get.

Don't ignore the signs/opportunities. Like Sondheim say, "Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor."

May 16, 2009 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Jason Quinones said...

i guess congratulations are in order???

i concur with everyone else. take the gig. keep your eyes and ears open for something less stressful in the meantime and then bail!!

all your midtown pics make me feel like we probably cross each other's paths at least once a day! (i work in midtown as well.)

May 17, 2009 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

They've all said it - you need the job. It's shit hours, but I bet your daughters are intelligent enough to realise when their dad's working hard for their benefit. They won't hold that against you.

May 17, 2009 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger A Free Man said...

First of all, this is a fantastic post. One that I can certainly relate to these days. I'm fighting that battle right now, trying to balance my career with an overwhelming urge to spend more time with my family.

I think you have to consider a few things. First, I don't know what your wife does for a living and how you guys are set financially, so I don't really have all the facts at hand. But, your primary obligation is to support your family. I know that's old school, but it's still the case. It's unfortunate if it means that you have to work 60+ hour weeks (that truly sucks) but if that's what it is, then that's what it is. Take the job for now and keep your eyes open for a better option down the road. If the American economy is as bad as it sounds, you'd be crazy not to take it.

For the time being, make the best out of every single moment that you have with your family.

Good luck.

May 17, 2009 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Annie: What if being so worried about my kids is a sign?

Jason: Isn’t midtown the best? Have you ever worked down on Wall Street? It’s horrible. The streets are narrow and congested. It’s as though they’re the same width as they were in 1650.

AFM: I’ve been following your employment story. You are overemployed! My wife is a stay-at-home mom, so it’s all on me.

May 17, 2009 at 8:44 PM  

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