Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#051 In which our hero is told the time isn't right.

The problem is, of course, that I was spoiled by my last boss. Well, not my last boss, really, but the last boss when I was working at an agency. My last real boss was at Progressive Insurance where I was working customer service on the phone when I couldn't find work at an agency... but I tend to gloss over that dark six-month chunk of my life. Anyway.

My last boss was a fantastic guy. Inventive, funny, supportive, someone that really understood the elusive nature of "being creative," and knew how to foster it. Someone who really got into brainstorming and made it a productive, often hilarious affair. But perhaps the thing that really makes him stand out is that he supported his people. Once when an AE suggested that I no longer go to client meetings (this because I told a client there was "no way in hell" that his idea would fly - which, in context, wasn't really as insulting as it sounds; and I was absolutely correct) he stood up for me and said, no, Craig will be attending future client meetings. End of discussion.

Naturally, this is leading to my relationship with my current boss, who is a spineless, simpering, two-faced turd of a human being. The longer I'm here, the less I like the guy. I have no doubt that he would throw me to the wolves if it would protect his own ass.

It didn't start out this way. I actually did some freelance for the guy a year before I was hired on here, and he seemed receptive, friendly... a decent guy. And when he called me out of the blue asking if I was still looking for work, he seemed like my savior. I meet with him and he seemed intelligent, and he took the time to read the stuff in my portfolio, which you just don't know how much I appreciate. I mean, I'm a copywriter - I do words. I've had many, many CD's flip through my book and I have to wonder how much they get to know my work that way... I mean, if you don't take the time to read the words, how can you know how well I use words? If asked, I'm sure they would say that they can "intuitively grasp" my skill level through the use of headlines or some shit like that. I don't buy it.

No, in our first meeting my boss read my work, and was surprisingly frank about his situation. Which was that he hired some guy who looked good on paper, but then couldn't do the job. He was only three months into the job, and my boss needed to fire him, post haste.

Now, I did find out later that he considered me when he hired this guy, but assumed I would want too much money. However, being out of the industry for a year and a half can seriously alter your perception of what you're worth, so when he offered a grand more than I had been making (which was about $13,000 more than I was making at Progressive but still about 8-10 grand less than I'm worth) I jumped at it.

But here's the thing: my boss and I both knew that I was worth more. We both knew that I was in a difficult spot because the advertising market is so tight in Cleveland, and the economy wasn't looking toward making any new jobs in the near future. But that was beside the point... I was worth more money, and in an ideal world, I would be making more money.

In the course of our discussions, my boss mentioned that if I were to pass on the health insurance plan, he could give me more money. Now, this might have been a desperation move, because right about that time I was contacted by another agency. That eventually went nowhere, but I met with this other guy, and frankly, would have preferred to work at his agency. But they weren't in the position to make me an offer, and I needed to take the sure thing.

But, at some point, the offer to give me more money if I skipped the health insurance (which I did, since The Scientist had a better family insurance plan anyway) was changed to the offer of having a six-month review.

Now, I wasn't really in the position to play hardball, and after six months of answering phones and getting yelled at by irate insurance policy holders, I didn't want to screw anything up. So I took the six-month review offer. Shame on me, since I know that a review is no guarantee of a raise, even if it's strongly suggested. And, if you haven't already figured it out, my six-month review came and went without a raise.

What I was told was that "the time wasn't right" for a raise. My boss made it clear that he wanted to give me a raise... which is easy for him to say, since it's the vice-president's call if I get more money or not. When I talked to the VP I got the same story. Which, frankly, I don't doubt. The agency wasn't doing very well, and he has 25 people to worry about paying, not just me. However, the way I look at it is like this: giving me more money is just the cost of doing business. I don't make commission, so I'm never going to have a "big month" in which they would have to pay me extra. My salary is a known commodity. It's what you pay to keep your creative, idea-generating copywriter happy. Now, if a sudden business opportunity came up and the president had to fly to Europe at the last minute, on a holiday - he would go. Even if it cost thousands of dollars, he would go. Because that's the cost of doing business.

So now, I've been here for a year. About two weeks before my anniversary date, I sent an email to the VP and my boss reminding them that my one year review was coming up. I admit I'm a little obnoxious about reviews, I expect them to be conducted promptly, on my anniversary date if possible; and if not, then as soon thereafter as possible. This probably stems from the fact that at my last agency job my review was pushed back and pushed back and pushed back until I was fired. It's obvious that no one intended on giving me a review because everyone (expect me) knew I was getting fired. So now I demand a review right away just to reassure myself that I still have a job.

So, a couple of days before my anniversary date, I get this email from my boss:
I have not forgotten that this is your one year anniversary and a performance review is the customary protocol. I will set up a time next week when we can get together.
What the fuck? "Customary protocol?" Hey, how about "Congratulations on being here for a year. I appreciate your hard work." It's obvious that he's burdened with the review process. To which I say: tough shit. It's part of your job. But, again, I'm not surprised, since he's deficient in many aspects of his job as Creative Director - like providing creative direction.

This leads me to believe that I won't be given a raise - again. Which chaps my ass to no end since I was basically promised a de facto raise at six months, and it didn't happen then. But, what probably burns me more than anything is that there's nothing I can do about it. The job market is no better now than it was a year ago... I could threaten to quit, but besides that not really being my style, I'd have nowhere to go.

So I'll suck it up. Oh, and steal as many office supplies as I can stuff down my pants. I thought about being honest and upright - but the time just wasn't right.


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