Back in 2003 -- with my first baby -- I planned to do the "classic" American working mom maternity leave: 12 weeks FMLA. Six weeks paid, plus 6 more unpaid. I was working for a cool dot-com-ish small (150-person) company doing work for the automotive industry, and wanted to come back. I also knew that my company -- like almost all Internet styled companies of the day -- had a giant "for sale" sign posted in the ether, and could be sold at any time.
Sold to the highest bidder!
My company was sold during my maternity leave. But, no worries. I was assured my job was secure. In fact, everyone was invited downtown Detroit to our new digs to meet the new CEO -- a rather prominent businessman of the Detroit community (who shall remain nameless here, but many Detroiters will be able to figure him out by the end of my story).
So, I found a babysitter for my little newborn (I think she was about 1 1/2 months at that point), and headed to downtown Detroit. I was excited to see my coworkers, and we were excited to see the new digs -- a very new building with on-site daycare, a gym, and lots of other corporate coolness. Woohoo! My dot-com payoff!
Then, we head to "the big meeting" and welcome speech from Mr. CEO.
He walked up to the front of the room, and an foreboding feeling took over me. It was like a dark presence entered the room.
Mr. CEO talks about how he works into the night to get deals done. He recommends his employees use the gym here (...so they can LIVE at the office). He says vacations are for wusses; HE works straight through Christmas every year.
I kid you NOT.
Something is NOT RIGHT about this man.
I want to leave the meeting IMMEDIATELY.
I DON'T want to work for this man. I CAN'T work for this man.
This is THE MAN. The one they always talk about.
I'm OUTTA here.
I give nice smiles to my coworkers, but I'm thinking... back away slowly then run! flee! escape!
Side note 1: I've been told that I'm quick to judge people. And this is true. While you might think I would want to temper this habit, I have a hard time thinking it's a bad thing. Because -- you see -- I'm usually right (see Side note 2).I get home that day, and explain the experience to my husband. He agrees with my plan to find a new job. I spend the rest of my "official" maternity leave getting my resume together and interviewing. In the process, I find a wonderful job (the one I still have). I also happen to get a couple more months home (5 months total) with my first born. I return to work (start my new job) in May 2004.
Side note 2: Flash forward a few years. Our hip hop Detroit mayor is forced from office and "asked" to leave town (for, among other things, lying under oath).
Somehow he gets a cushy job at -- you guessed it -- my old company! It still exists as a subsidiary of Mr. CEO's corporation. If I would have stayed, Mr. Ex-Hip Hop Mayor would have been my co-worker -- until he went to prison.
Of course, Mr. CEO had some 'splaining to do when it came out that he "loaned" Mr. Ex-Hip Hop Mayor some $250K to "help him get settled in his new job." Now, this "loan" had no interest and no terms for re-payment: it was a "gentleman's agreement."
Ya know the kind? Yeah. I know that kind.