Why I Quit My Job During a Global Pandemic and Economic Downturn
Posted on September 8, 2020
First of all, hi! It’s been a while. Actually, it has been years since I’ve published anything on my personal blog, and today feels like the day to dive back into it with fervor.
Today, September 8, 2020.
What a time to be an American. What a time to be a human. Aside from the volatile politics of the west bearing down on everyone’s shoulders, life is weird. COVID-19 has thrown everyone I know into turmoil.
Every time I step out of the house I am reminded how weird life is. Instead of the usual mental, “Keys, purse, bra, check!” I do a, “Keys, purse, mask, hand sanitizer, essential worker letter from HR (after today, no more). Bra optional. Who cares anymore? CHECK!”
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know I have homeschooled my kids for years. Their life isn’t much different. We’re just down our extra curricular activities that we’d been experimenting with pre-COVID.
Our family also moved in January. We’re in a new town, new jobs, new people, and no family nearby.
My husband started a new position, and we’re all so proud for him. I also decided to go back to work when we made the move. Jobs are better here where we’ve relocated, and I thought it was time to get back into the working world now that my daughters are a bit older and more self-sufficient.
Two months into our relocation, a world-wide pandemic rocked our worlds. When quarantine descended on our family, the girls were spending Spring Break with my parents. That Spring Break turned into almost six months spent apart except for the occasional day visit for a birthday here and there.
Chris, my husband, is in a position to work from home most of the day and then with extreme social distancing outside the home.
I had started a new career path in Patient Access, and I spent a considerable amount of time looking at getting a degree in Heath Information Management or something in the administrative realm of medicine. That meant I put on my mask and left the house every day.
I was not sent to work from home, though it was discussed at length. I was not furloughed with pay but one week. (Many at my place of employment were furloughed for several weeks with pay.) I didn’t mind that very much since I was one of the newer (but not the newest) employees.
I put on my mask every day, and I dealt with the anxious public. I dealt with my anxious self. I dealt with my anxious parents who desperately wanted to see me and let me visit my kids, but were usually scared I would bring the virus with me on a visit. I spent our slower days mulling the situation with coworkers. None of whom had kids staying away as I did.
I lost half a year of my kids’ lives because I wanted to help, and I wanted to keep my job.
I was miserable.
Chris spent a lot of his energy trying to cheer me up. He cooked almost all the meals, and he did a great majority of any house work. I couldn’t muster any energy after a day of nervously handling other people’s papers and pens, arguing about masks, and constantly wiping down surfaces. I was also beginning to have very clear depression.
When July 4th rolled around, my parents and I relaxed our strict distancing standards. It was just getting too difficult for me to be away from my children, and things were looking up! I was told by my supervisor, that if we could develop a good work from home process, they would let me work from home starting in a few weeks.
I was given a private office and free reign to design a process to successfully do my job remotely. I worked so hard. I agonized over details that might snag the process. I took on so much extra work and ran myself into the ground trying to make it work. I did make it work, and I did so by being willing to work harder than I should. I did so thinking the reward would be worth it.
That ray of hope did not pan out, however. Without explanation, my work from home project (which ran from weeks to months of putting me off) was halted. My performance was great. No complaints. No real explanations other than management saying they only intended to pilot the work from home program. Within a few days, an offsite employee was working with our office remotely and doing a very similar job to what I was doing. Coincidence? Maybe. Who cares.
When my supervisor officially informed me that working from home was no longer an option, I simply stated, “That’s bad.” She agreed. I didn’t know how else to react. It was well-known at the office I was sacrificing time with my kids to be there, and I truly thought that some consideration of that would be given. In the right place, it would have been.
The fact is that circumstances have changed for everyone, and requesting to work from home when it’s completely possible isn’t outrageous. That’s proven now.
I was thrust back into my old role, and I was given more work with less time to do it in. One co-worker went on maternity leave, and another resigned after battling with poor equipment and no support for about two months.
We all began taking on more tasks.
I was being asked to work even farther from home at another site to make up for the lack of personnel. I repeatedly asked not to be scheduled there, but I was just shrugged off and told I would get mileage for the extra drive.
At this point my kids had “moved” back home and were beginning to start school again. The dog days of August had everyone staying inside, and I thought it was a good time to test how this school business would work while I was out of the house and so inaccessible.
My manager began cracking down on cell phone usage. We weren’t allowed to text or check our phones at our desk during work hours; which I found to be intolerable. We were in an extraordinary situation, and we can’t have our phones out?
I came home every day to frustrated kids. They couldn’t call or text me with questions, I couldn’t check in with them, and they needed help. My oldest is almost 17 and stepped up her monitoring of the younger kids, but I know that cut into her work time considerably.
I needed to be there to help.
I felt marooned on Work Island.
Chris tried to help out when he worked from home, but he was becoming increasingly busy with his own work. I was watching the whole situation implode over the course of a month. Not to mention, I was on the verge of implosion myself.
So, over Labor Day weekend, I made a decision. I quit.
I have applied to a few jobs and am hopeful something works out from home, but I could not wait any longer. I quit without notice. Quitting without notice or a new job lined up may seem risky, and I guess it is. However, nothing is more important to me than having a happy healthy family. No matter how much money I bring in or where my career takes me, I will never get these years or opportunities back with my family that I felt were being swept away.
This I know to be true. I am a good employee, and I deserved better. While I never feel like I am owed anything, especially not anything I haven’t earned, I know this was a losing situation I had found myself treading water in. Regardless of the economic climate, one cannot continue on in a position to the detriment of one’s family and self. Yes, I understand how privileged that sounds. I understand how privileged it is.
In a way, I was lucky to still have employment, but it became crystal clear that I was being exploited by a company that was hoping I had no other choice. That’s a problem in this part of the world.
I have time to find something else that fits my life now, and I refuse to accept anything that isn’t good for me.
So, here I am. Ready to create. Ready to build whatever future is ahead of me. I hope you’ll stay a while.