Consider My Hat Eaten

Posted: November 13th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers, Working World | 2 Comments »

Remember in the die-if-I-missed-it show of my teendom, Happy Days, when Fonzie attempted to admit he’d made a mistake?

Well, if you weren’t as devoted a viewer as I was, I’ll tell you about it. He’d do this super goofy but kinda-funny-because-it-was-predictable thing where’d he’d say, “I was wrr-wrrrr-wrrr…” and inevitably someone like God’s own Ritchie Cunningham would say, “Wrong, Fonzie? Are you trying to say you were wrong?”

Well, despite the myriad similarities between Fonzie and me–including the fact that I like conducting meetings in the bathroom–this week I had reason to actually feel happy about admitting that I was wrong.

But first, the back story.

Before having Kate, my concept of work had one modality: working 50-65 hour weeks,compulsively checking email when not at work, never knowing when a pitch would require unexpected late nights/travel/migraines/beatings from executives, never knowing when the work that we spend long hours and late nights producing would result in beatings from clients, and intermittent Sunday evenings rife with stomach-clutching because it’d all start over again in a matter of hours.

After having Kate and taking a hiatus from work my psyche was able to unfurl from it’s abused-child fetal position. And unbelievably, for the first time, the simple realization that there were other kinds of jobs out there came to me.

Unfortunately, agency life, for all it’s unpredictability and manic peaks and valleys, did get me accustomed to creature comforts far beyond Bagel Fridays. It was creative. It was lucrative. It was never boring. My co-workers were always funny and mostly brilliant. And the flip side of the burning ulcers was the ‘the client loved it’ adrenaline rushes.

Teeninsy Kate injected her existence into my life with the dramatic flourish of a table being hurled on it’s side during a round of Go Fish at a nursing home. She was a mindblowingly happy-making, wanted and welcomed addition to my life, but oooooh-ee! Did she ever change things.

Unsurprisingly, there was no turning back to my old job life. But nearly a year into careerlessness, I started to get small twinges of wanting to do something. I talked to friends, joined LinkedIn, winced with introspection, lunched with former co-workers, and massaged my temples in an attempt to conceptualize the kind of job that’d be both gratifying and allow me moderate to lavish time with Kate.

My criteria were: part-time, lucrative, flexible, creative.

Ever the realist, Mark said, “Pick two.”

In this process I was like a spider, dragging anyone within reach into my web to wrangle over the whole morass with me. Which is to say that aside from Kate Kate Kate, I had a new conversation topic to drone on about to anyone who’d listen.

And throughout all this thought and blather I made what I thought were two brilliant assertions:

1. The vast majority of part-time jobs require hair nets.

2. Job sharing is a myth.

I mean, here I was living in San Francisco for God’s sake, and I didn’t know a single person who job shared. And if I didn’t know anyone here who did, you can bet your Blackberry that folks in Omaha weren’t.

But then, last week, I was proven wrong by a dear friend who I’ll mysteriously dub “Sherry” so as to conceal her not-yet-started-the-gig identity. Yes, after a series of phone calls and interviews that spanned several weeks, my dear Miss Sherry got herself a two-day-a-week job. Job-sharing with another woman.

But wait! I also must mention that this job is in her field, at a super-cool company, senior management level–and she’ll even get mondo employee discounts that’ll rock her whole family.

No burger flipping required! (In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and guess there’s not a deep fryer in the whole building.) No calling the men Mr. So-and-So and getting flowers for Secretary’s Day! No whispering, “And what are you wearing, Arthur?” into the phone while the kids play in the other room!

And best of all, NO HAIR NETS.

In the words of my people from the great small state of Rhode Island, I am SO WICKED HAPPY for her. And for the slim ray of hope this casts for all the other talented professionals who–mothers or not–have great contributions to make, years of senior-level experience, want or need to make money, and require flexibility.

Now that that myth has been busted, does anyone know if that toothbrush photo from the Jamaican vacation story is true?


2 Comments on “Consider My Hat Eaten”

  1. 1 mimi Towle said at 9:25 pm on November 16th, 2008:

    Who is Sherry –and how can I single white female her?? I’m dreaming of a job share — but I’m thinking more of a month on month off — none of the crazy 1/2 week stuff… I want TIME OFF..and then TIME ON.

    and then what is the tooth brush story –

    thanks for the always entertaining read


  2. 2 Nell said at 5:57 am on November 20th, 2008:

    One of our CG friends was just hired for a job share in HR/recruiting…it was originally a full time job, and with the economic downturn, the company considered holding off on the hire, but was easily convinced to take on our friend part time! Her work partner is also a mom who was seeking some balance. It’s so good to know that those options are out there.
    Anyway, I’m waiting for you to go “back to work” and start working on the most excellent BOOK that should be published from this blog!! It would be such a hit! Just imagine, two published authors in residence!

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