Monday, January 25, 2016

In which Primo and I fight about his going back to work - I am for it, he is against it

Primo got home - when? recently. I am writing this about a week after it happened.

And we returned to the ritual of fighting, only this time, we waited until I had been at work all day.

I got home from work, wanting to do nothing more than eat something, change my clothes, and watch TV, but Primo wanted to talk about The Future, which would have been fine with me, but he wanted to talk about The Future with No Plan.

He maintained that he should get another year off without working because he has spent most of the past year dealing with Sly and Doris. (Taking the year off is The Plan. Not in The Plan is 1. When he would start to look for a job or 2. What that job might be.)

I think that is BS. Sure, an extra few months, but an entire year?

He argues that he inherited some money.

I argue that he has no idea what it's like to look for a job these days. The last time he got a new job was more than 16 years ago.

Oh, he said confidently, I will just tell them that I quit to run for Congress.

Which was when I did not scream but wanted to scream, "ARE YOU NUTS? You cannot tell recruiters you quit your job to run for public office! You tell them you quit because your parents were both seriously ill and you knew it was going to take more time than FLMA would allow. That is the only acceptable answer!"

"Not for a political job," he said.

Which left me speechless because you know what? I liked being married to an engineer who made engineer money.

I have no respect for and have no wish to be married to a community organizer.

That is the job for a 20something with a trust fund, not for a middle-aged man with an expensive education and a highly-specialized background for which employers are willing to pay.

Community organizing is for people who did not have the sense to major in something that would lead to dental and a 401k.

I do not care about saving the world. I care about being able to retire some day.

Primo wants to leave a legacy. Is that normal? Does everyone care about that? I care a little bit, but on a more personal level. I want my legacy to show now. As in, Primo and I are going to our college reunion soon. I am a little stressed about it because

1. I have no children
2. I am pretty much a failure at my career, despite my educational pedigree, which makes me wonder if I have not met my potential - depressing - if I have - even more depressing.

Given that I have nothing to brag about - my classmates have written NY Times bestsellers, are tenured profs at Princeton, are CFOs of major organizations, are healing the sick and defending the poor, my current concern is losing ten pounds. If I cannot be accomplished, at least maybe I can be thin.

(Which is not working, BTW. I like eating more than I like not eating.)

Where was I?

So we were arguing and I was getting ticked off because I am the person who is really not gaining anything here. Primo wants another year off. This year has been not very nice because even though Primo has not been making any money, he has not been home to do any of the chores he said he would do instead of making money. I have had to be the person making money AND the person cleaning the bathroom and scooping the cat box and washing the clothes and changing the sheets. I have had to do all the housework, which he was supposed to take over.

And now he wants to take another year off.

He has a valid point about the money he inherited. It's more than two  years' salary, but my main concern is that a middle-aged man who has been out of work for two years is not going to be appealing to anyone.

We are at a stalemate.


  1. Primo needs to start looking for a job. It will take time and waiting won't make it better. And the family as reason for leaving the last job will go over better no matter what the job, even political. Then you get to the desire to change direction or contribute.

    While leaving a legacy is nice it can't be at the expense of your family (either short term or long term). And politically you need to either be young and pretty free to commit to anything or well off enough to support your choice or to attract people of influence or to influence. Unfortunately money speaks.

    Legacies come in all types and sizes. But they can't be the reason for your life. Legacy comes from doing the best you can with the choices you make as you live your life. Legacy is not a career. Legacy comes from being the best you can be. Be kind, be helpful, be loving, be responsible and you will have a legacy.

  2. Does Primo not read AAM at all???

  3. This gave me a case of the twitches. Please Primo start looking in a few monthes. Finding a job takes f o r e v e r.
    Is there a organization to volunteer with, while you look. I agree that a legacy comes in many forms, giving your time to a worthy cause while working could be your best win/win.

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  5. Catherine from CanadaTuesday, January 26, 2016

    Tell him to start reading Ask A Manager.

  6. Primo may have inherited some money, but he and you are far from independently wealthy. That means he works for money first, then works for free once your retirement is taken care of, if that's what fulfills him. He can always play the lottery in the meantime!

  7. My understanding of the current hire situation from those who do it, is that the longer an applicant has been out of work, the lower the prospects of being hired.

  8. Time to dry clean the interview suit!

    For the love of baby Jesus don't put anything in an application other than "caring for family" when they ask what you were doing in that time gap between jobs.

  9. Everyone else is giving good advice.

    However, is it possible that Primo is so emotionally exhausted after the horrible last few months that he just can't handle putting together a job search? His suggestion might be a desperate grab for respite from stress for a bit. Caring for and then losing both parents, sorting their house and dealing with Ted must be immensely difficult. Could Primo even have situational depression?

    It ignores the fact that you have also been subjected to a lot of stress in keeping your home running financially and physically, which is hard and unfair to you.

    Could a few months to recoup and then a job search relieve Primo's emotional exhaustion? Obviously, starting now means a job earlier, but a month or so of self care might make it easier.

    You need a timetable, though. Your needs matter, too!

    1. I totally agree with this. It sounds like Primo may just need some time to get back to his old self. Maybe seeing what happened with his parents is causing him to wonder about his future, i.e. legacy or lack thereof.

      I also agree with KnittyChick. Volunteering after or around work is very fulfilling and will make a difference, big or small. I do not recommend politics. As important as it is, just ew. Unless he's worked in politics, it may appear more meaningful/fun than it is.

      Maybe he could find an engineering job in an AEC firm? I work in an AEC (Architectural, Engineering, Consulting) firm, and we frequently do projects involving developing countries and social/environmental improvements all the time! Also, we are always looking for engineers!

  10. 1) Community organizing is what you do A) on the side, and B) when you have enough of a support base to be able to support yourself doing it.

    2) Many people have not been able to be as accomplished as they'd like to be. That doesn't make them (or you) failures. It makes you somebody who has made choices that prioritize what you value and what you consider most important. If you considered being more accomplished more important, you'd have tossed several things you currently value by the wayside. Accept it, own it, be proud of it. Smile in the face of anyone who would look down on you for it. (Yes, even if it means eating a bit of "man I was young and arrogant" crow.

    Congratulate the others. But, ya know. It was some people in your class, not all of them, right? So... it's not like you'll be the lonely kid standing in the corner with a dunce cap on your head either. 8•)

    3) I would negotiate a compromise position. 3 months completely off, do nothing (except those home chores). 3 months start looking at jobs and what's out there, how to best currently conduct a job search, etc. while continuing to work on house stuff. 3 months selectively submitting applications to only the most interesting stuff. And then full on press job search, apply for even the "not as interesting but doable" stuff.

    - AC

  11. Depending on what branch of engineering Primo is in it might not be so hard to find a job? My husband burned out hard at his last job and took some time off. In theory he was going to spend 2-4 months to work on some open source projects he's had on the back burner for a while but in reality he spent a year backpacking in the woods, doing competitive Crossfit, tough mudders, and god knows what other macho man shit. Once he actually started submitting resumes, he had a job within six weeks. (And he's in his forties, so not a spring chicken.)

    Also, and again this is highly dependent on field and region, if I saw a resume that said "ran for local office" to explain time off, I'd be super impressed. Even if the person was in the other political party from me, it's so rare to see people who actually care and get involved.

    Last thought: my grandparents were nowhere near as horrible as Sly and Doris, and my Uncle Buck is nowhere near as disgusting as Ted. And even so, Mom was just battered into the ground by the time they both finally shuffled off this mortal coil. I don't think she was even capable of showing up to an office, much less being a good employee. So if Primo is so shell-shocked from dealing with Sly and Doris that he can't pull it together to give 100% at a job, it's possible getting a job now and performing poorly will hurt his reputation and make it harder for him to progress his career, than taking the hit of having a bigger gap between jobs. Especially if he can get involved in his professional society's local chapter and do some service during his time off--organizing a colloquium, or a lunch and learn series, or facilitating networking meetups or something. Lets him use his organizing skills in a way that is directly beneficial to finding a technical job.


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