Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Cycle of Life and Dodging Bricks to the Face

It’s been a long week starting with Wednesday, there were 250 lay-offs at the University of Phoenix based on an 5-year auditing by an independent company of each position within all areas of the work force, nationally. (I don’t like surprises and I hate to feel like a statistic.) All in one day, I lost friends, managers and learned 56% percent of my colleagues/me were being dispersed to all the college divisions (10 Schools), only 19 would remain with our department. It was also announced another 550 individuals were losing their jobs before 2013 because 112 campuses and/or learning centers were being closed and all students transferred to online.

My job classification within my department got a band-aid, “if your new (unknown) manager or Dean allows telecommuting, you can get one-day of telecommuting as compensation if you continue your employment with them after 90 days. If you decide to stay with IDD, you will also receive the same opportunity.”

However, there was no mention of where the mysterious 32 laptops for those “non-senior employees” would come from. I am 1 of only 12 people who have a laptop and I’m not handing it over like it’s a piece of bread. I became a senior employee over two years ago by earning it through countless hours of giving 300% and I’ve maintained the top being in the top 25% for over two years… you are going to pry this piece of plastic from my lifeless fingers. In fact, you can only have it, if you hand me something better.

I digress.

Next, was the instruction to fill out a preference sheet #1-11. You have to decide your “preference” based on which college division you thought would pick you or if you really wanted to stay with our department. It’s hard to consider doing this without knowing which college division values your work enough to pick you for as their preferred #1 or #2 new positions allocated to their teams (and they could only pick 2-3 people out of 44… without contacting you directly.)

I should have called my dad on Wednesday when I first got the information, but it coincided with my mom’s death, I was overly emotional and I just didn’t want to make his day even more of a burden. At least I had Zach’s birthday to be happy about, right? Well, except I was so demolished by the day, I didn’t sleep that night and just worked through the night because I need to not obsess about impeding doom.

I won’t lie… Thursday morning, I went into strategist mode like it was survivalist mode. I qualitatively surveyed random samplings of my competitors/non-threats, just to figure out that the advice my dad gave me at 6am that morning was the best strategy. Sigh, I wasted four hours determining I just needed to be straightforward. I have tip-toed around Deans and Executive Management for 4 years and that was not who I am. I know who I want to work with and they are the best, or it’s not worth the risk of losing what I already have. Should’ve done what dad suggested that morning, because 35+ years at General Electric playing the politics of being a smart and experienced man, without a piece of paper, makes you a darn good strategist.

So sent an email, met with the director, met associate director and said the truth. I got truth back, they already had a list from the college divisions who their 2-3 picks were and their placement is based on when the numbers are a match. With the email already sent, the play was in motion.

Then wait, anxiously.

I got an email at 7:51am Friday morning confirming a match in numbers. So, all I can say right now is if it’s true: my life, my daughter’s life and my husband’s life, got a whole lot better overnight. I will still contribute the same, spend the time, and even work harder... but be in an environment, where I will be respected and trusted based on my performance. I won’t actually say anything officially until Wednesday when it is announced because… I am sort of in disbelief and feel like it’s too good to be true.

My Brookline class felt a little more secure that they would still see their Professor every Friday, same time, same place.

So being high on life, chanting for it to be true,
I get a brick to the face out of the blue.

A former student calls my phone, I answer knowing the number and he is screaming in the phone at me (now I haven’t seen him or talked to him months) and only continued to answer his calls because I was trying to be pay forward the favor, similarly as one Professor did by just believing in me, when I hit rock bottom. So I know he has several severe “emotional disorders” and at first, I was more worried about what he might do to himself… so I tried to talk to him.

He goes off on a rant, saying he is going to blackmail me… but couldn’t answer the question – what is it I did? or exactly how blackmail would work? (When you know you haven't done anything wrong it's kind of impossible to get blackmailed and more impossible for someone to logically answer the question.) He was seriously talking crazy and in circles (without me even able to speak) then hangs up.

So I call him back, calmingly asking him, please talk to me, tell me what’s going on. Then he says, he is going to call the cops and tell them I sell drugs. At this point, I was so confused and alarmed because the law enforcement in Arizona is intimidating even when you know you are innocent… because I was speechless, he hangs up.

So again, I call him back and proceed to try to get the screaming, raging, lunatic to stop and ask him to please just tell me what’s going on. He starts bawling over the phone, saying that I needed to call his girlfriend and make her let him in her house. So I persuaded his to disclose his location, he is apparently outside of his girlfriend's house, found her with some other guy, and she won’t let him in and somehow this is all “my fault… not hers, not his. Mine.

At this point, he threatens to hurt me and my family and... hangs up on me again. So, I relocate myself and my daughter to our “safe room” because the student does knows where I live. Then, I start searching online to find out what the official policy is for Maricopa Community Colleges if the professor receives a threat. At one point, before class a year ago, I had to talk him down because of the emotional disorders, so I didn't call 911 because I believed that I could do it again.  However, I went into accountability mode - I didn't want this lunatic showing up or hurting anyone, so I try to contact Maricopa Community College Safety.

I called six different numbers including Maricopa Emotional Safety’s number……… over twelve times. No one ever answered. Glad I am so safe as a faculty member. (Sarcasm.)
Zach is aware of the situation and decides to go buy smokes. (He is seriously never alarmed by anything, with I was that confident.)

My phone rings again, it is the student again. Now I am directly pissed because he's affected my evening with my family (after obviously a long emotional week).  So he got an unexpected verbal whiplashed, I proceed to tell him how he has two choices to make on how the rest of his night is going to go. 1) He’s going to stop acting like a crazy person, leave that location immediately, shut up listen to me and apologize to my daughter for ruining her night or 2) I’m call 911, the cops are coming for you, not me, and your going to jail for threatening me. Concluding with, choose what you do next wisely, because a Professor with no criminal record is a lot more reliable than a person who is screaming crazy talk in the middle of the damn street.

There’s silence.

I say, “well…” He says ok I will go home.

So I say, “I will call you in 15 minutes and you better be ready to listen and fucking apologize for this shit.” I hang up.

10 minutes later….

He calls me, says he’s home, and proceeds to bawl and apologize a million times… he had biked to his girlfriend’s house, where he found her not alone, she wouldn’t let him in because there was another guy there and he thought if he could get me to call her I could persuade her to let him in her house.

He bawls some more. I am silent.

I tell him what he needs to hear “If you ever do this shit unprofessional again, I will call the cops on your crazy ass because I have only ever tried to help you with kindness and respect. If you need to talk because shit happens, you manage your damn rage and make a civil phone call because I am not your enemy... but pulling another stunt like this, will make me your enemy. 

The only reason, I continue to give you guidance, is to help you through your problems in a positive way. You do not want me as your enemy. You get what you give, your actions are mirrored, when you involve others. Negative actions will only ever get you a negativity response.

I will not tolerate you bringing me or my family, into your personal matter. I will not tolerate threats of violence or whatever you lie you rationalize during your emotional rage, in an effort to blackmail me because you think I can convince someone to take action.  I also will never take action on anyone over anything on your behalf, especially when I know you are emotionally enraged and unstable.

He apologizes to the room while on speaker and says he knew it was wrong.  (This lasted for 30+ minutes, while I listened with bleeding ears.)

So after the craziness, Zach went to bed, Nina and I watched tv… I decide to vent through writing until 2:30am because I’ve dealt with a bit too many surprises this week and I am a little shaken.

I just hope that everything next week goes better than this week, because I'm not sure how many more bricks to the face I can take, without having to take a time out for sanity.