Monday, June 17, 2019

I'm a Goddamn House Cat

I'm a Goddamn House Cat
Thanks to some changes at work, I've been slacking on all things internet: writing for this blog, reading and commenting on others', and keeping up with the latest nonsense on Twitter.

We just went through a re-org, the first I've had to go through in seven years at this company. That means I have a new role, a new team, a new boss, and a new and exciting level of work and stress that I need to get acquainted with. 

As long time readers of the blog know, I work in procurement and have ever since I was getting my undergrad. I worked in my university's procurement office during the day, negotiating prices and contract language, running RFPs, managing our supply chains and cutting POs, and then went to classes at night to earn my BA and then, later, my teaching credential.

After teaching for a hot second, I realized I liked negotiating with suppliers a lot more than I liked negotiating with teenagers. So I broke the record for shortest teaching tenure and then came right back to the field that was so good to me over the past couple decades. The work made sense to me: analyzing total cost of ownership and booking cost savings, haggling over prices and hammering out language that would eventually be memorialized into a contract. And I was good at it. I am good at it. Which I've found is a big part of liking my career.

But thanks to this re-org, I'm now in a new role: a role where I need to be an expert in this one specific technology commodity...and I'm not yet. I'm trying to pick things up as best I can but it's going to take time and, in the meantime, I'm not really doing that well. 

After years of knowing my position in and out, and being the guy who people asked questions of, now I'm the guy asking all the questions. I don't know the technology category. I don't know the processes and policies to get things done. Worst of all, I often don't even know who to ask to get the right information, so I sometimes end up bugging a whole string of people just to track down one answer.

Beyond the general 'new guy' stressors, the team is understaffed. There's too much work for the number of people, which is leading to the whole team putting in long nights to catch up on email and projects, low morale, and stress that's starting to kind of just be with me around the clock. 

I've been here before with a prior corporate job, and back then, once I started waking up in the middle of the night worrying about my projects, I started asking around for new positions. 

But now that I work from home, even though work is rough, I kind of don't want to leave.

The thought of having to commute again, just on its own, is almost enough to keep me where I am. I hate thinking of all the hours I wasted over the years, sitting in traffic, navigating rush hour twice a day, wearing out my left leg while working the clutch. 

No. Thanks. 


And then there's the pre-work ritual of making myself presentable to my bosses and coworkers. While I haven't done this in years, I still remember waking up early just to shower and shave, iron my shirt and pants, scarf down some breakfast, just to climb in my car and hit the road. This is time I could be sleeping. Plus, then I have to wear those dang dress clothes all day.

After a few years of working at home, I'm kind of accustomed to working in the t-shirt, shorts, and bare feet I'm most comfortable in. It sounds ridiculous and this makes me sound like a wimp, but I really don't like wearing dress shoes for ten hours a day. They hurt my feet.

Beyond the avoidance of all the little inconveniences and time wasted with modern office life, there are some big perks I enjoy from working at home. 

In between meetings, instead of chatting about sports at the water cooler, I can hang out with Baby AF for a little while. I can feed him a snack or sneak in a little playtime with him on the mat. 

And I get to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Mrs. Done by Forty and our baby every dang day. The t.v. is off and our phones are away, and we get to have a meal together and just talk. I know this probably sounds boring AF, but this is kind of a real life goal for me.

And there's the little stuff, too. If I need to run an errand on my lunch hour, it's easy to. If something needs to be prepped for dinner, no big deal: I can pull something out of the fridge or get a head start on dinner when I'm on a conference call that I don't need to talk on. All that little stuff is pretty nice.

So while my new role is proving to be stressful and humbling, and is maybe even one I'd typically leave, I'm finding myself pretty...stuck. We're so close to financial independence. I'm just...comfortable where I am. In my house. I don't want to have go out into the world again and hunt down something better. I'm just too used to being in the house, and I don't want to leave.

I think I'm a goddamn house cat.


If I don't like my situation, everything should be pretty clear cut: go do something about it. The fact that we're so close to financial independence means I should be more willing to make a change, like take a lower paying job. I should work up the courage to leave the comfort of home behind, look to see what's out there, and then find something that's better. 

That's what an outdoor cat would do. If a neighbor stopped putting food out, or started chucking rocks like some sadistic fuck, then that outdoor cat would just find a better bunch of humans to hang out with, end of story. They wouldn't just stick around. 

But despite the new job bringing on some pretty righteous stress, the kind that has me thinking about work a lot during the evenings when I'm supposed to be focused on my family and my hobbies, and occasionally has me waking up in the middle of the night, I'm so comfortable in my current situation that I hesitate to give it up.

Sure, the job itself might be rough for the next couple years. But Baby AF's freaking adorable and he's here all day. I have baby on demand. 

And Mrs. Done by Forty is done with her PhD and is home, too, available to sneak in a quick round of a board game during lunch if we want. 

And the pay is really good. Maybe the stress is just something that comes along with that?

Maybe my prior job at this company, the one that was way easier and less stressful, was an aberration. It seems like everyone in the corporate world is putting in some rough hours and dealing with some pretty upsetting shit. What if I think the new job will be better for my mental health, and it turns out not to? Then I'm missing out on family time, and sitting in a car for an hour or two and sitting in full length pants and a shirt with a collar and shoes that cover my whole foot for no goddamn reason.

This is all just whining. I know that. And it's some of the worst kind of whining: a guy who's complaining about how his unfairly high paying, work at home job is now suddenly stressful. 

Welcome to the party, pal.

But, hey, this is my life, and these are my feelings. I figure everyone eventually gets used to the situation they're in; then if things get worse they're going to react to that. Even a spoiled little house cat whines if you forget to feed him.


*Photo is from the Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue, which is also in the running for the most interesting source of a photo from Flickr Creative Commons.

35 comments:

  1. How long have you been in new said role? I feel like it can take a good 3-6 months to really settle in to something new. You’ll feel like drowning less by then too I bet :) That said, I am totally an outside cat, if nothing else than I can’t stand my four walls too long if I spend even 24 hours inside them haha

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    1. Angela! The blog didn't eat your comment! This seriously just made my day.

      It's been about 3 months so maybe I just need to settle in for a while. Maybe in a few months, things will seem better.

      And I can see you as an outside cat, totally. :)

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  2. Good luck with the new job. It sounds like your old role was perfect. That's the problem with working for a corporation. You don't control your destiny. Nice to get paid well, though.

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    1. Thanks, Joe! My old role really was pretty choice. I was hoping to ride it all the way to FI but now these last couple years will have to involve something else. Either at my current company and new team, or with another.

      But yeah, the pay is pretty good. As is the working from home. Hence my hesitancy to leave.

      Delete
  3. I don't know if you're a house cat...they don't accomplish anything in a day.

    One nice thing about working in a job for a while is getting it to fit you. You don't have to work with supplier X b/c he's a jerk and your neighbor will do it.

    And more importantly making your job match your work life balance. It took me years but I got to a point where my job was so awesome I didnt want to quit it even in retirement. Now I work 1-2 days a week.
    You sound skilled enough at your job that Im sure you could make that happen.

    I couldn't imagine how I would feel if something re-orgd my job away. That would suck.

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    1. Hey there, FiveYearFIREscape. Thanks for stopping by.

      Going down to part time is definitely intriguing. But I wonder how easily I'll be able to stick to just working 2-3 days or whatever. It's something to consider!

      But yes, re-orgs are...not great. We're close to FI though so I guess that's the silver lining. This too shall pass.

      Delete
  4. I'd be stuck at my job as someone who can't really work outside the house, but I'm lucky that customer support is pretty low-stress. And when you're done for the day, you're done.

    Sorry that things are so stressful for you right now. I hope things settle down in the next few months as you get more accustomed to your role.

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    1. I have to admit I'm a bit envious of being able to be 'done' at the end of the day. I've been in back to back meetings all day so tonight will involve emails on the couch...though at least we'll get to watch a show or three while that's happening.

      But yeah! Maybe things will calm down in the next few months. Temporary...

      Delete
  5. I wonder if part of what's eating at you at night is that you're not changing location; there's no leaving job at job when job is done at home. This isn't to advocate the commute but to ruminate a bit.

    I didn't realize you were so stressed--it's brutal when things are like that but hey, in contrast to most, you've got a light at the end of that tunnel! That's pretty amazing.

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    1. That's a good reminder of my blessings, J. I always feel weird complaining in my situation, as so many would trade places with me in a heartbeat.

      And maybe a change of scenery would be good. Sometimes I work at the library for a bit, but it's always with Mrs. Done by Forty and Baby AF there, too. Maybe some time alone would be good...

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    2. I get super antsy when I work at home too long, and I work at home a lot. For me it's worse if I work on the couch and then try to relax on the couch--it's like one cancels the other out. I also find it's harder to have boundaries for work when work/home is the same. My 2c, is all :)

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    3. I at least have a separate office where I do all my work (I sometimes bring my laptop out into the living room or onto the back porch but I find my productivity goes through the floor when I do that). Hard agree on the downsides of mixing physical space for work and play.

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  6. Sorry to hear it's been hectic - all that commuting and getting dressed for work does sound like a drag. And dragging you away from the little one does not seem fun.

    I have my fingers crossed you find a way through it, and find a solution that works for you.

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    1. Thanks, Ms. ZiYou! I think there's got to be a way through, even if it's just 'running out the clock' on my working career.

      It's all temporary. This, too, shall pass. But I'd like to find a solution in the interim if there's a better option out there.

      Delete
  7. Your first reorg in seven years? That’s amazing - my last employer had reorgs (sometimes small, sometimes big) multiple times a year. Regarding WFH, you could replace your current WFH job with another WFH job - long pants and collared shirts aren’t the only alternative! I’ve been focusing my job search on remote opportunities only. Indeed is good for searching for remote gigs, LinkedIn is not. Also, there’s a paid site called FlexJobs.com I use that aggregates all different types of flexible gigs, WFH included. It’s about $45/year or you can do a monthly sub.

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    1. I know, Sarah! Seven years is a very long time to avoid this sort of thing in the corporate world, especially at a company as large as ours.

      Another WFH job is VERY tempting. I had assumed it was a unicorn but it's actually fairly common these days. Maybe it's time to dust off the old resume...

      Will check out Indeed to see what's what. Thanks!

      Delete
  8. I so feel this. These days I value low stress and an excellent work-life balance. Sure, my job isn't super challenging, but I love my boss. A new job will just mean different problems. And as someone who absolutely HATED biz casual wear, one of my main job requirements is being able to wear my own clothes. I say, if you can work from home, even if it's the new role, that means a lot!

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    1. I know you're right, Luxe. Just being a home is a pretty big perk.

      And I feel the exact same way about the allure of any new job. The grass seems greener but there's probably dog shit on that lawn, too.

      Delete
  9. Team Housecat!!

    I feel so many of the same things you're feeling but from the other end of the stick (overworked, understaffed etc). I've been in my position for a good long time and I'm feeling discomfort with my current work (or just plain working). I know that something is going to come along and drive me up the wall and down the other side so I should maintain gratitude for the ease of what we have now - and the lack of commute. It might be because I lived in the frenetic pace of having to always be learning for most of my career and I haven't been doing that at all for a while but whatever it is, I do NOT ever want to commute again. I'll leave the house only when I feel like it or to get food or to walk the dogs.

    Sorry you've been so stressed lately. Sending good vibes.

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    1. Thanks for the good vibes, Revanche. Some gratitude is probably what I need to feel right now: just need to get in the right mindset.

      And I'm glad I'm not the only one who is set on not commuting again. I love being home and really only venture out for errands or, ironically, going to someone else's house to hang out. :)

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  10. SavvyFinancialLatinaJune 18, 2019 at 8:38 AM

    You are so close to FI I would ride it out. I am, also, in Sourcing/Procurement. It takes about 6 months to get use to new categories, get to know your stakeholders, suppliers, but at the end of the day is all about costs, and you use the same tools to negotiate better costs. I'm ultimately a numbers person. So sometimes I see other counterparts get really into knowing the space, and I'm focused on just unearthing costs. It could be hardware, packaging, etc.

    As someone who has switched jobs a couple of times, it's exhausting.

    I'm at that point (29, on the way to 30) where I'm trying to figure out what to do with career. Climb corporate ladder over the next 10 years? We should hit our FI number by the time we are 40. But I don't think I will stop working.

    It's just hard dealing with all the politics.

    You are in a different situation. You are so close. Just hang in there.

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    1. I knew there was a reason we got along so well, SFL. Procurement buddies. :)

      I think I'm going to hang in there, too. But I don't love the notion of running out the clock on my career. I guess I was expecting to find some sort of epiphany, some sort of meaningful closing chapter to my work life.

      This re-org is throwing me for a loop. But like you said, maybe in a few months things will get better and I'll settle in for the last bit of this ride.

      Delete
    2. Savvy Financial LatinaJune 18, 2019 at 11:05 AM

      Yeah, who knew I would end up in Sourcing/procurement. But it pays well. A combination of luck, lots of hard work, and connections had led me a relatively well salary, especially for my age. And there's demand.

      I get it but let's hope things turn around. It takes time for re-orgs to settle. I honestly can't believe you only 1 re-org in one year. That's crazy!

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    3. Across our company we do a ton of reorgs, but for whatever reason my individual team has been left alone for a long while. Just lucky, I guess!

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  11. Definite envy - never had a work from home gig. I've not worked since February - living off savings. That new job stress you talk about is in my head and stops me applying for jobs that sound like a true grind - they'll want more for less etc etc. And I have the money to live on now, so why rush back to working?

    I'm an engineer - so I could go back to very well paid work. Or I could find something more 'fun' but less money. But then i worry about my identity and ego. I'm also convinced higher paid jobs is how I got to have so many months off without any financial stress. If I earnt half as much, it wouldn't be as easy to have saved so much!

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    1. Hi Sarah!

      I think that new job stress may be at the root of what I'm experiencing. Maybe things will get better in a bit. Either way, it's close!

      And I agree that the higher paying job is maybe a bit underappreciated for those who have one. It gives a TON of freedom.

      Delete
  12. Seven years since your last reorg? What company do you work for?? *wink wink* ... Agree with the commute nonsense. It is the such a huge factor. That and dealing with clueless leadership. Hang in there man. We'll be retired by 65. I just know it!!

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    1. We can do it, friend! Retired by sixtyfive dot com.

      I'm realizing there were other re-orgs all around me during that time but somehow I got to keep my same job throughout. :) I guess it's just my time.

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  13. I can relate to the job changes. I will find out this week what my new job duties entail. I really wanted to be able to jump ship after training the person who does my old duties. I kinda expected to get laid off, but no. I can't leave the perks though like flexible schedule, bringing my dog to work, ability to work from home when the other office-mate is on vacation. I will hang on for as long as the grass is greener on my side. I hope your expertise grows and the stress decreases soon.

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    1. Those are some pretty sweet perks, Daizy. Spending time with your dog is just one of those things I'm used to now. After a very tough meeting or a bad moment, sometimes a little hug from your best friend is all you need to get right.

      I hope your situation improves, too. Let's hold on. :)

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  14. Dude, I feel this so hard. Working from home has given me LIFE. I don't know that I could ever go back.

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    1. Hi, Piggy!

      Same. Hard same: never going back to a commute unless it's the last resort. I need to remember how good I have it.

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  15. I think I've said this before so apologies if I sound like a broken record, but why not just quit and take some time off?

    Baby AF will only be this young once. I know you are WFH so get to see him way more than most parents/fathers, but being a full time parent would be way more awesome wouldn't it?

    In a year or two's time you can take your time to find another WFH job or part time job or whatever you want. You are like 80-90% FI already but are not really seeing any of the benefits of it - you have FU money so why not actually use it for what it is meant for?

    Of course I agree it's worth sticking it out for a while to see if things improve, but if you feel the same in another 3 months time I would seriously consider pulling the plug :)

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    1. Hi there, friend!

      I think you might have mentioned this before. I guess I just don't see the same appeal that you do, this close to the finish line. I hear what you're saying about FU money, but I've had that for many, many years. This work problem is maybe 3 months old and I'm maybe 2 years from the finish line: I'm more focused on trying to get there than taking a break, I guess.

      The real downside to quitting without knowing what that next job looks like, IMO, are the unknowns: will I make as much (if not, I'm working longer), will it be at home, will it ultimately mean I'm away from the family longer in the aggregate, stuff like that.

      I definitely see the appeal of quitting and for a lot of people that may be the best option, but I'd rather find a way to cope and push through in this case. I'm way too close.

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