Just yesterday afternoon I got a call from an HR person in my company. They asked if I would be able to go to my alma mater and do some interviews for new hires and the upcoming intern season next summer. This all sounded great. I would get a chance to go back to Colorado, it’s probably not still in the 90’s there, I could see the old campus, and maybe even catch up with an old friend while in town. Then I found out the details and their answers made me spit out my tea – I literally had to clean my monitor… Suddenly, the trip seemed way more hassle and way less positive, no matter how I could spin it. I realize glorifying work trips is easy to do (not really, they mostly all tend to suck) especially when they involve getting back to CO even for a few days. I wrestled with what impact this would have on my career and what kind of exposure I would miss out on by not going. Mrs. SSC’s suggestions even had me second guessing the supposed benefits of going. Through all of this debate, I came to a few career conclusions that were a little shocking even to me.
When I got the call for this trip yesterday, I asked the usual, when would I be traveling out there, how long is the interviewing session, and when would I be coming home? Like I said, I spit out my tea – note to self, don’t drink anything ever when talking to HR – because their answers were “Well it would be for Monday (this coming Monday), and you’d be interviewing from 8-5 and then fly home Monday, or Tuesday morning depending on flight availability.” The short notice isn’t too bad, and the short turnaround of the trip would actually work in my favor.
What’s the problem with travel then?
I’m going to be out of town this weekend participating in a Sprint Triathlon. I plan on bringing my youngest with me, and fortunately we will be able to stay at my in-laws house, as they live where the race is happening. So it was going to already be a nice relaxing weekend with a race thrown in Saturday morning. I wasn’t planning on getting back to Houston until mid-Sunday afternoon.
When I checked flights, the only ones available on Sunday were at 5:30pm – doable but it would be sucktown. I’d be driving about 4.5 hrs with a 3 yr old solo in the car (I’m a little worried about this anyway), then get home, unpack the car, pack a work bag, grab some lunch, hang with the family and leave to the airport. I’d get to Denver at 7:30 pm and since their airport is in Kansas, I’d have a solid hr+ drive to Golden to get checked in and then get dinner. It would be a late night followed by a long day of interviews. The return flights would end up being Tuesday, probably a 6am flight, which again, due to driving to Kansas to get to the airport, I’d have to leave by 4am to have time to drop off the car and shuttle it over to DIA. Then I’d probably be asked to come in to work, because I’d be back in town by 10am. Double sucktown…
Am I going?
It sounded doable, but what would I get out of it? I know most people just get told they’re going somewhere, as this was my last companies approach, and at least I got asked if I could go. I’m guessing they forgot to line this up earlier and are now at the bottom of the list desperately searching for anyone to go. But what’s in it for me? Nothing really. Just 9 hrs in a stuffy room interviewing a lot of students, and then a lot of travel and lost sleep. No thanks! I even had the go ahead from Mrs. SSC if I wanted to go, and I was really leaning towards going. My thoughts were that this would get my name exposed to a new group of corporate yobbos* that may be helpful in support of a future team lead position. More exposure and inter-company networking is good and showing I’m a team player is even better right?
But why? I’m in the twilight of my career and not necessarily looking to climb the corporate ladder. It’s probably hard to do in just 2 years… This trip has no positive gain for me whatsoever. Like Mrs. SSC reminded me from the Essentialism book – Less but Better. This trip wasn’t either. For any bucket dipper philosophers out there, this was all dipping from my bucket with no refilling whatsoever.
So what’s shocking?
I was surprised how much I feel bad about saying, “No, this trip isn’t going to work with my schedule and family time.” I literally feel badly about it. Like one of those “Oh, damn this feels like the wrong move, even though it’s a right one…” sort of feeling.
Another shocker is I just realized this is the first time I’ve ever told work no. Any work. In all of my 23 years of working at any job, I’ve never said no when asked to do something extra. My work ethic says, “Hey, if asked to do something, you do it. Period. That’s what you get paid for.” That’s how I’ve always lived and what I’ve subscribed to. But not this time.
Finally, like Steve at Think Save Retire mentioned when he was in a similar situation with a recent work request – I have the freedom to say – no thank-you, this is not what I want. Surely it can’t come back to haunt me in less than 2 years right? We are still in a pretty horrid downturn, and there is always the threat of layoffs, because, well, they’re still happening everywhere else… Essentially, I am not super worried about getting ahead at work anymore. If I didn’t get another raise, promotion, or new position for the next 2 years, I’d be fine with that. That freedom is amazing.
Even though there is a pit in my stomach for doing the one thing I haven’t done in 23 years of work, saying no, I am excited because of why I got to say no. Being this far along in our Fully Funded Lifestyle Change journey is starting to have some cool rewards! Mrs. SSC got to quit her job and do something she is loving, even though the paycut was huge. I got to pass on an opportunity to “get ahead” at work in favor of a better lifestyle. Overall, we’re turning our hectic, busy, time suck life we created for ourselves into a slower, more open schedule, laid back, family filled existence that we would rather have.
Do you always say yes at work? Have you gotten the chance to say no? Did it torture you like it did me?
Let me know!
* I’ve always loved this term since I first heard it in Clockwork Orange, and it seemed fitting even if I may be misusing it.
(slang) Someone, usually a male, who is uncouth, badly behaved and obnoxious. Loud and drunk are also characteristics, but not always present