Wednesday, December 28, 2022

taking a risk

The boss didn't come back with great news, but from what he learned, there's a chance for our team (except for our graphic designer) to remain together: we could end up working directly under the CEO, creating materials for him to use when he lectures. This sort of work would be totally unlike what we've been doing up to now. Up to now, we've been making textbooks for use in courses that last a few months. This means going over each textbook's overall design (usually a chapter template that repeats with every chapter) plus all the requisite graphic design, then creating the content to fill those chapters up while the designer works in parallel with drawings, photos, etc. In this new paradigm, we would essentially become a private R&D team working exclusively for the CEO. The boss describes this as "on-demand" work: what we do would depend on what the CEO wants to do for his next lecture, YouTube video, etc.

While some might say that it's nice to have a direct line to the CEO, my worry is that we'll all end up as slaves to the CEO's whims. The news I'd wanted to hear was that we'd be continuing as we were, with the same team. Whatever happens now, though, it seems we've lost my Korean coworker, the graphic designer. He's been assigned to a different R&D team. I know that team's leader, and she can be a bitch. She runs her office as if it were a library: everyone has to be quiet, with talking reserved only for necessary chatter. Back when our team worked next door to hers, I used to have these monthly food parties, and I'd invite everyone on the floor to come. This lady once told her team not to go to my party. I never learned why, but it was consistent with her bitchy behavior pattern. Thou shalt not have fun on my watch.

The boss is supposed to meet with the CEO on Thursday (tomorrow), but we proles were asked to give the boss an answer first as to whether we would choose to continue. I told the boss up front that I wasn't happy about the situation, that we'd already been through this sort of bullshit before, and that there seemed little point in staying on. The boss counterargued that this would be a chance to keep the team (such as it is) together, that I wouldn't have to think about moving, and that things could potentially get better in the future. I asked whether this was an all-or-nothing proposition, i.e., if either I or my coworker M said no, the whole thing would fall apart. The boss said yes. I wasn't reassured to hear this, and the boss said that one option would be to stay on until my current contract period ends, which would be on August 31, 2023. So in a few months, if things are feeling painful, I could opt not to renew my contract. I turn 54 next year; I'm no spring chicken, and options are narrowing.

With much to think about, I got lunch and pondered. The lazy part of me that doesn't want to move or pay deposit + rent on my place won out, and I've decided to say yes to staying on. My coworker said he'd need to run things by his wife before answering; she's doubtless pissed by how the company has jerked her husband around. So right now, there are no guarantees. For the boss's plan to work, my coworker needs to say yes to staying on as well, then we have to generate some material for the CEO to look at before the boss leaves for his Thursday-evening meeting. My boss will take our "yes"es and our material to the CEO on Thursday; the CEO will then make a decision as to whether we proceed. If we get the green light, I will then contact our HR department to "un-resign" myself (which also means I won't be receiving my fat severance—it'll be kept on hold for another year), and we'll spend the next several months directly under the Eye of Sauron, working as his minions.

I think the CEO will probably say yes to keeping the band together (minus our designer). We'll spend our time crafting lectures, lessons, and video presentations for the CEO (who is a boring lecturer—and keep in mind that, as I say in my book, lecturing is the worst form of teaching), and I'll be grumbling through my teeth until the end of August, at which time I'll have to decide again whether to stay with this company. I think the cosmos is pointing toward my leaving, though. If I work through 8/31/23, I will have spent eight years in this place.

Upshot: today didn't settle anything. We won't know more until either late tomorrow or sometime Friday. If we do get the go-ahead to proceed again as a team, I've got to drag most of my stuff back to the office again. Rather unsentimentally, the boss looked at our Korean coworker's now-empty space and said we could get a small fridge and convert that space into a kitchenette. I feel bad that my Korean coworker is going to be working for a dragon lady, and more selfishly, I'm sorry to lose the opportunity to practice my broken Korean with someone fluent. (My boss is fluent in Korean, but he only ever talks to me in English.)

So: nothing is settled yet. More news later this week.


Charles said...

Hmm. Well, I wasn't expecting that. Good luck, at any rate. Hopefully things work out.

Kevin Kim said...

I'm already regretting the decision to stay because it feels like a lazy cop-out, but I guess we'll see how it goes.

Charles said...

I can understand why you did it, though. If nothing else, it gives you a little more time to figure out what you are going to do next. Just stick it out until August, but make sure you have something lined up so you're not scrambling around trying to find a job. And if you find something that would start earlier, you can always give your notice then.

John from Daejeon said...

Echoing what Charles said, you will hopefully now have time to plan your next move without having to quickly move.

John Mac said...

Yeah, I agree with the others that this move (if it happens) buys you time to plot your future and so works to your advantage. It may not be the ideal job, but it will keep paying the bills while you do the things you enjoy doing in life and start planning for your next big thing.