For three years I had worked long, exhausting hours in order to achieve my goal. When I was finally promoted to supervisor of my department, I was satisfied. My hard work had paid off.
I immediately began restructuring the department, which meant hiring a new employee. The search for just the right person was more difficult than I anticipated. After looking over what seemed like hundreds of resumes, I selected three of the best and contacted the applicants to arrange an interview.
My first interview was a professional, well-spoken young woman who was obviously overqualified for the position. I was just about to ask why she was willing to accept a position that minimized her abilities when a buzzer sounded. She asked if she could use the phone, so I assumed the noise was from her cell phone. As she dialed, I pretended to look over her portfolio as the young woman spoke. “Of course, Mr. Davis, I’ll be there promptly at 3 o’clock.”
When her conversation ended, I asked, “Do you have other prospects in mind?”
“No,” she answered. “That was my parole officer. I have to check in with him at 3 o’clock.. He’s supposed to be taking off this ankle alarm. See, there was a little misunderstanding at my last job. I have no idea how the $70,000 from the company retirement fund ended up in my personal account. It could have happened to anyone.”
My second interview came fresh out of college with a degree in Business Administration. He was definitely dressed for success . . . as a clown! His body was pierced in so many places that I’m sure he sprang leaks when he drank. When I asked why he was applying for the job, he said, “’Cause my old man made me!” Somehow, he just didn’t fit the corporate image.
I was beginning to loose faith when my third interview arrived. She was qualified, pleasant, and motivated. I hired Brenda on the spot.
Brenda immediately fell into the swing of things. She was at her desk bright and early every morning and often worked late. I was very pleased with her performance and the powers-to-be were also impressed.
The third week on the job, Brenda called one morning to say she was sick and wouldn’t be in. I wished her well and told her I would see her the next day, but Brenda didn’t return to work until the following week. I assumed this long absence was an isolated incident; after all, everyone gets sick. In the months that followed, however, Brenda’s absences came with more and more regularity.
When Brenda was at work, she was wonderful, but because she missed so much time, the entire department began to struggle. I called her in for a conference and she assured me things were under control. The next day, she called in sick.
At this point, I began loosing patience with Brenda. When she came to work the following day, I again called her in for a discussion. “Brenda, you do excellent work, however, I must have a commitment from you”, I said.
Brenda broke into tears. “I haven’t been honest with you. My two-year-old son is very sick. He is in the hospital regularly. I have no family here. I’m all alone to care for him. If I loose this job, I don’t know what I’ll do!”
My heart broke for Brenda. I tried everything within my power to help her keep the job. I gave her a lap top so she could work from her home, allowed flex time, and covered for her as best I could, but eventually the gods of Corporate America became involved.
When I once again called Brenda into the office, she already knew what was coming. She pleaded with me not to fire her, but the decision had been made and my rung on the corporate ladder was not high enough to reverse the decision. She gathered her things and was escorted out of the building like a common thief.
As I watched Brenda walk to her car I realized that I was not satisfied. Neither money nor power could remove the ache inside my soul. Three weeks later, I resigned.
I now have a job making a third of my former salary. I do the menial jobs I once hired others to do. I answer my own phone, take a brown-bag lunch, and eat at my desk. Now, finally, I am very, very satisfied.