Anxiety, Unemployment and Job Interviews

I have been quiet the last couple of weeks due to an overabundance of anxiety, projects and money stress. Overall it has been going ok, and only some of my stuff is transition related so I will cover that in a future post.

As we all know, I was laid off 25 minutes after I put in my request for time off for FFS related to my transitioning. It was unexpected although not necessarily unwelcomed. I hated that job anyways, the management I worked with (as part of management) had favorites, targeted specific employees they didn’t like and overall, I disapproved of how they did it. So, my being cut out was fine, especially if it made me eligible for unemployment. Sort of a win-win.

Five weeks later they still were not approving my unemployment (sadly I worked for the people that handle unemployment, so it was a bit awkward signing up for it) and that has caused a massive amount of stress financially.

We can totally get by on what my hubby makes, even if it is super tight budget wise. He is working his ass off, but it crushes me every time I see him having to do what he does, and he does it willingly to help support me and my transition. That is why it was so important I get unemployment so I can take that burden off and smooth our wait for my surgery in April.

Last week I got asked to come in for an interview at the job I had before last. I left that job because of some pretty transphobic coworkers (they didn’t know I was transgender) and so I made a soft exit and went on to what was a cursed job. Now they wanted to interview me again so while I dislike the idea of working there again, I know the job and it pays fairly good, better than my hell job.

I went in to the first interview, part of me really hoping they wouldn’t want me back just so I could actually have some time to be a stress ball about transitioning and surgery. I was clear on the massive amount of time I was going to be requesting off this year due to four surgeries (at least, not counting any revisions or fixes needed). They seemed mildly ok with it.

I got home and the next day I find I am approved for unemployment. Massive amount of pressure taken off both the hubby and I for at least six months. It isn’t a lot of money and it means we will not be paying any of the large debt we are incurring for my face, but it would keep us going.

Not more than three hours later I get an invite to the second interview for that job, a job I don’t want but pays too much for me to justify not taking it. So now there is a little frustration that I got the unemployment but that will probably be going away by the beginning of February IF they hire me (that is still not even close to a definite yet).

So now I have this cognitive dissonance. I am getting unemployment and am happy, but stressed it isn’t more money. I may get a job that pays about double my unemployment but will hate and here I sit spinning my wheels stressed about all of it.

Stress like a rat on a wheel, circling round and round.

I find if I express this it sometimes helps, which is why you get to all read about it. There are some transition things happening that add greatly to this, but like I said those will be their own post.

So here I am stressing out that I might have a better paying job, or that I am not making enough on unemployment. You would think between the two choices I would find myself happy, but I am not. Such is the life of a girl.

Centering Myself

I have been quiet because I needed to take some time away and center myself. I talked about being fired last week, and that it caught me completely off guard. I needed some quiet time to set up for the long wait of unemployment, and to see where the finances stood for the husband and I. Mostly I just needed to work through the feeling of being betrayed.

The finances are still ok. We got both our student loans deferred (I am unemployed and eligible, he still had optional deferment available) so we can make it on his income alone, even with our car payment. So financially we are doing ok without any income from me.

I have turned in all the required paperwork, I wasn’t let go for cause and there should be no issues on my work record. I should get unemployment. However, that can take some time, since the four quarters they count my income are when I worked for the feds. The feds don’t report wages to the state unless a person requests, so it could be weeks before I get any unemployment… We can get by, but it means I can’t put money aside for the FFS.

Of course this all happened the same week I flew down to Phoenix, got my FFS, and everything medically is going into fast gear. So a lot of anxiety has been occurring. That being said, a week later I find myself happier. I truly was despising that job. Mainly the way my management team I was on would target employees they didn’t like. That put me on the other side of my co-managing team several times when I couldn’t agree to punish my auditors for things that didn’t merit that level of punishment.

On top of all this there was a lot of disdain for my transition that had been building up. There were some people that were great, but several people I worked directly with would get that weird lip pull back when I talked about it, and obviously they were uncomfortable. Evidently uncomfortable enough that after I submitted an FMLA request for my FFS surgery I was walked out of the office 25 minutes later with no disciplinary actions, no warnings, it was just cashing in on the CBA and giving me “no cause” for my being released.

The frustrating part is the reason I came here was they are supposedly open to transgender employees, that wasn’t the case in the end. Even now I am really frustrated I took a 30k a year pay-cut, my commute when from 15-20 minutes to over an hour and all because a boss I used to work for and thought was a good person turned out to be a pretty shitty person. It all kind of hit me there and then. This job was taken purely because of my old boss, and it was nothing like I was told.

This means that I am now applying at jobs as much as possible. I would like to earn as much money as I can before surgery to help offset the cost, but the odds are that no one will pick me up before April. I don’t pass anymore, and I am ok with that. I suspect job interviews in the conservative business world will not go as planned. You never know though, maybe I will be surprised.

So this week I have been meditating a LOT. Trying to sleep enough and taking care of the husband since he has a stressful job and the money responsibility is on him. I think he is liking that I cook, clean, take care of him overall. I hope it is making it easier.

Now a week later there is a part of me to be fulfilling the traditional wife roles, I have always been motherly to people (it is joked about) but now it feels like I can be who I am. The meditation and supportive family I have chosen has made this experience so far better than I had hoped. Now that I am feeling centered, it is time to prepare for the surgeries (4 of them in 2019) and to get mentally in the groove.

So there I am, more centered now that I am not working for a shitty boss. Finances are tough, but aren’t they for almost everyone?

 

Fired!

I was going to write all about my consult itself, but it turns out something more exciting happened. I got fired after submitting my FMLA paperwork for my transition surgery.

To be honest, it is more of a laid off situation, I am currently in a probationary period and within the first six months they can let you go no matter the reason (and they never have to tell you why). I assume this means I will be able to collect unemployment, the problem being is my job during the “unemployment year” was with the department of defense and there is a slew of hoops I have to jump through.

I have never received any disciplinary comments, never had any issues that I know of. I even asked my boss last Thursday how things were and she was fine. She even talked to me on Tuesday, the day before I was “separated” and was all chatty with me on chat while I was in Phoenix.

I went into work yesterday morning, and while I dislike my job I was putting 100% into it. I sent an email in explaining I am going to need to file for FMLA, that I am getting the surgeries and will need LWOP. Within 25 minutes HR had called me in and issued me a letter saying I was being separated. 

All it quoted was the Union CBA that outlines the authority they have to release me, they don’t need cause and they don’t need to say why. The letter is dated the same day as my email too so that means they ran down to the director immediately and had her sign it.

Now, I am waiting on my unemployment decision (the hard part is I worked for the agency who handles unemployment, so this is awkward) before I make any final decisions on what to do. I may just walk away if I get my unemployment and look for a better job, or I may pursue this.

ok, there is something funny about this.

While the union agreement does cover their butts and allow them to do this, there is no way that my FMLA request for transgender services wasn’t involved since I have had no personnel issues. With that information it is actually against state law to lay out retribution for my FMLA request (and in WA state transgender care is covered under FMLA, or at least the state’s expansion of it).

That however will wait until I hear back. For now I will be anxious, begin my job searches and try and get unemployment. All the while arranging for my surgery in April. It just means more debt… However, the alternative is worse.

Rough Feeling

manager
So much truth right now

I have been kind of quiet lately. Work isn’t working out the way it was presented so now I am stuck in a job that seems about as intolerant as other jobs made me worry about. Plus now I commute 2+ hours a day, working a set shift and for $20k a year less.

It has been a disappointing experience, and I will also admit my emotions have been all over the place. I suspect it is the holidays, stress, and my damn testosterone levels keep fighting my estrogen levels leaving everything a battlefield.

That being said, I have a wonderful husband, and great family made up of people I choose. Everything is going well logically. Our finances are fine at the moment, I am going to a consult for FFS on Sunday (maybe that is also adding to my stress), we are out of debt other than car and student loans. Life is good, just my emotions are lying.

I decided I needed to kind of blog about my emotions too. I have talked about doing it privately, but I find the only time I am good about recording things is if its publicly. Maybe I am just an exhibitionist. 

So it has been a rough few weeks, I am tired and I think I am starting to feel depressed again. Although I broke that big depression and I can feel emotions and I think that is also contributing to it. So maybe it is a sign things are getting better. I had a great Thanksgiving and I will probably post about that. It is good to get positive things posted.

Things will go well (and other than the work front are going well). 

Stress Ball

coffeeThis last couple of weeks have been rough, especially this week. I am sure it is a conglomeration of worry about my parents, about my husband’s graduation, my job, etc. I just haven’t slept more then five hours a night (even though I work from home three days a week).

Take for example today, everything was going great. I wrapped up work and took Jello to a movie, then was heading to dinner when I get a call and email from work. One of the employers I audited and found owing over 20k in taxes is freaking out. He has called lawyers, a newspaper, etc and trying to call me out. He is doing anything he can to avoid having to pay. Fortunately I know I did everything correct. However, being an investigator/auditor on businesses that are avoiding tax (whether intentionally or unintentionally) means I don’t have a popular job, even though I think it a much needed job and I have found several MILLION dollars in unreported wages in last six months. Obviously my position is needed when fraud and tax avoidance are so common.

Normally I would instinctively worry about my job. When newspapers call, people are shouting and my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss has to get info from me I worry (yes that puts the person around second or third man in our state capital). That happened Monday afternoon, then today it was only my boss’s, boss’s boss (Director of our department) that needs info. However, all three bosses above me have reassured me that nothing is untoward, that this is normal cause of problems.

So rationally I know my bosses like me, they think I am doing fine and there are no problems. However, the little hamster in my head still freaks out. It shuts me down where I don’t want to do anything except hide as I freak out that I am going to be unemployed soon (contrary to what happened at the county, I know logically that this isn’t going to happen).

The overall issue, is this results in becoming a stress ball. I am tired of being a stress ball.

Telecommute?

coffeeThis week has been both a very short and very long week at work. I have only gone to work three days last week. Monday I took off for an appointment with my husband, and then Friday to go to Norwescon. sadly, Norwescon didn’t work out, but I did get to hang with him.

My supervisor called me on my day off. It sort of freaked me out when she called. I was worried I must have done something wrong. She was actually fairly excited on the phone and said she wanted to tell me something about my part time telecommuting application. If it had gone through I would get to work from home three days a week.

With the part time telecommute I would still need to drive two days a week to the office, and when I have audits I would have to go to them (and the distance is about the same for audit days since most audits are south of my office). However, I wouldn’t have to drive those three days just to the office. I would try and arrange my audits to be on those two days to minimize excess driving as much as possible.

My boss however said that I, along with a few others, have been selected to do a pilot program. 100% telecommute. I would still be driving long distances, but my home office is my house (and I would have all the necessary equipment given to me). It means every time I hit the road I would get back at least a couple dollars in mileage (some audits I would lose money on the gas, but some audits would gain more then I drove).

However, the absolute best thing about this would be none of the travel would occur outside my 8 (or 9 with lunch) hour shift. Right now I put in about 2-3 hours extra time into travel a day. This is why I leave for work around 5am, not because I want to, but that is the only way to keep my commute of 30 miles down to only an hour each way (at the height of rush hour its sometimes 2 hours). With full time telecommute it means I work 6-2 (or 3 if I take a lunch) but I never have to leave earlier (I can get up at 5:45, hop in shower then sit at computer by 6am instead of current 4am). It also means all driving is during work hours, I clock in at my house, and I clock out at my house.

I believe she said on the phone it will start the 27th (but I haven’t been in to confirm, nor can I be sure now that is the exact day). I am excited, this will alleviate a lot of stress. Another advantage is once the hubbie graduates and is working steadily, if I am still working here it will be easier to take classes at night for my MBA.

I realize this is a pilot program so it may not be permanent (but they are getting rid of all the tax office so something is going to be happening) and even if it went to part time telecommute that would be great. So things are looking up.

Work

Last few weeks of work have been weird and uncomfortable. The job itself is fine, I don’t mind finding people avoiding taxes and honestly for the most part I don’t mind nailing them. Unfortunately it isn’t my job duties itself that is bothering me.

My work schedule is killing me. In order to drop my 3 hours of commuting to about 1.5 hours I need to leave the house by a few minutes after 5am (meaning I have to be up around 4am). This is bad enough, but on top of this I get anxious about work, if I get anxious and I need to get up too early, I end up waking up even earlier (around 2:30 am after going to bed around 1030pm). Now, that last part isn’t my job’s fault, it is just a program bug in my head. However this is resulting in my being exhausted all the time and not wanting to do much but nap. Although on a good point, I might be exhausted but I am not depressed anymore from my other horrible job.

I found out today that I won’t be considered for part time telecommuting for at least three more months (originally a month ago I was told February). This is frustrating, especially so since I took a 25% paycut because of the flexibility of this job. However, it is turning out there isn’t much flexibility. It is ok though, it will keep us going until Jello graduates.

The next problem is training is all over the place. I can do the audits, but the fine details are still not completely explained to me and results in a fairly steady stream of “please do this again and do it “x” way”. I never have to repeat this, but it bothers my own sense of self that this keeps popping up because I wasn’t told how to handle specific circumstances.

What worries me is that both the nitpicking and the moving back my date of telecommuting by months came after I mentioned in passing my husband’s proper pronouns of  he/him. I can’t say for sure my boss realized what I had said, but the behavior has changed since then and alarmed me. In all fairness though, my agency is undergoing some upper echelon changes so maybe it is that as well. That would almost be worse as it would be a sign that the agency itself is going downhill and that would be bad.

I have talked to my husband and will continue to use the she/her pronoun forms until my probation is over in May (I haven’t come out to my work on the transition, they had interviewed me before Jello had decided to go all the way so at the time I had talked about my wife). I absolutely HATE doing this, hate hate hate, but I cannot risk being able supporting my husband financially until he has graduated and is working.

There is a possibility I might get a call from my old job at SAO (at the Seattle office, which is about thirty miles from here), I am kind of hoping that it works out, but I am not holding my breath.

However, even if they don’t hire me I think I am going to start putting apps out. Low pay with no flexibility is not something I want. The job is interesting, it is a combination accountant/auditor/private investigator but the payoff is just too little at the moment.

Job stuff

I figured I would give you guys an update on job stuff/possibilities.

Current Job: Honestly the job itself isn’t that bad. I investigate businesses that pay employees under the table. I ensure that unemployment insurance is paid by the employers, protecting the employees and ensuring they get unemployment insurance if they get laid off (if they get paid under the table they don’t get unemployment).

I have been picking up a lot of businesses who are avoiding taxes (surprisingly, or maybe not software companies are a big issue, along with housecleaners and dog groomers/sitters/walkers). I don’t feel bad auditing them, nor do I feel bad when we find they owe money. Does that make me bad? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

I have a lot more to talk about my current job, but I figure some of them deserve their own posts so I will wrap this up saying I do have a few dislikes about my current job.

The issues are the commute sucks (I-405 to Bellevue and then I spend half the day driving to different audit sites) but I can deal with that. The pay is very low, especially compared to what I was getting paid at my prior two jobs and while I think the job is fairly flexible and honestly I like busting people avoiding taxes, the actual scope of the job is very limited. I am so used to doing full GAAP/GASB based audits and this would only represent a very tiny portion in duties.

DoD: I had a weird thing happen with the Department of Defense job. I wasn’t picked up in the first round of hirings, my app was returned to central place for HR, but then the next day my app got returned to DoD management and I was told by email to disregard all prior notices (it sounds like there was a mistake made) and that it was forwarded to management. Does this mean they will hire me? I think its an eventuality, but it is a federal job and if it does happen it can take months. So, while I am interested I won’t hope too much.

State Auditor’s Office: Now this is the real news. I got a call on Friday from a friend who works for the Seattle team. She asked if I was interested in coming back (I made a lot more there then I do with ESD there and I had a lot more authority). Evidently their team is short people, and extremely short trained people (most of their team are new auditors). Evidently one of her assistant managers asked her to talk with the main manager about me.

So Rae called me to verify if I would be interested in coming back. I am not sure how interested I would be in coming back to my old team, but the Seattle team is a new team and I plan on working down in that area anyways. It also doesn’t hurt that the Seattle team gets paid a 5% boost in cost of living due to the area (but its the same cost of living as where I live now so it would be a boost over my old wages).

I told Rae that I would be interested (after talking to Jello). I miss auditing, and if there is office drama at least it would be a new place and new issues. So Rae talked with her manager at a meeting and they both looked me up in the system. Evidently my old resume/application had already been expunged (they dump apps/resumes after 90 days) and so he (the manager) told Rae to have me put in my resume ASAP and then call one of the HR people on Monday to confirm it went through.

I think that is a good sign, and if it worked out at minimum I wouldn’t be living on the edge of my paycheck (having to use credit cards on occasion with no paying them more than minimum). It would be at least $800 more a month, the commute would be comparable with no driving during the day except for special items (unlike now, I put 100-200 miles on my car a day). Plus, after getting past probation I could take a job down in the Vancouver office if one opened up and live near Portland (I know Jello really wants that, and I would like it).

Is it definite? Absolutely not, but it is ok either way. I would go back to SAO, and if that doesn’t pan out I can get by on my current job (I should be telecommuting part time in a month, that would make up a lot at that time for the low pay). Will I take the Department of Defense job either way? I think I would. Jello has been telling me for a long time to take the jobs I want, not to work at any place out of a misguided sense of loyalty. I should have listened to him last year, I had debated many times (and had a couple of options) to dump the County, but I felt I owed the County at least a year before I started looking for other jobs. Obviously that was an erroneous thought as the county dumped me in less than a year when I wouldn’t agree to do things that weren’t acceptable to an auditor viewpoint.

So everything is still in the air, so I thought I would just blab to all of you.

More work updates

I figured it has been a month that I have been at my new job (plus I have some new news) so I wanted to give an update.

My current job is actually going pretty well. I am gnashing at my bit waiting to actually go audit. I am ready to go out, especially as an investigative auditor for unregistered businesses (basically I am looking for and going after businesses that don’t pay unemployment insurance if they are supposed to). Like I said earlier, the quota seems a little scary but honestly I think it will be fine.

I have already found a couple of dozen places, and if I put my mind to it I bet I can triple that. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want small businesses to be overtaxed, but if you have an employee, they have the right to receive unemployment if they are laid off, and that is the responsibility of the employer to pay it. I find most of the people I am looking at aren’t unaware of the requirements. They are savvy enough to know they need it and try and get around it by claiming their workers are 1099 independent contractors (and about 95% of the time they are wrong, they should hope the IRS doesn’t catch them, they are much harsher then we are).

Now, on another front I just got word from the Department of Defense for auditing defense contractors. My application is on the fast track and they wanted to confirm I was still interested and if I am hired I will start either January 27 or February 24th. They need to check my references and verify information though before the interview.

They asked about the County and I was completely honest about what happened. Instead of ignoring the question “have you been released from a job in the last five years, or quit to avoid being released please describe the situation”. I figure the last thing I want to do is have them find out later I hadn’t mentioned the County situation, after all the big thing about auditing is having ethics and being upfront. If an auditor lies about his work history, it just shows an ethics problem in the future.

Now, it is possible that the situation with the County (even though I don’t believe I did anything wrong, I just refused to lie for them) will knock me out of the running. Its a shame since I would start with the DoD making slightly more than now, and top out in three years with a 50% raise (which is more than I have ever made). However, if this does happen, my current job will support us until Jello gets out of school. Also the other positive about my current job, if I am still at it I will try and start my MBA next fall while working there. There are lots of bonuses to my current job (eventual telecommute, easy going group) but the pay and uncertainty of the department are the weak points.

Well, before I ramble too much more I will wrap it up 🙂

Starting the new job

I realize it has been a week since I last posted, but times have been tiring. My new job seems pretty cool still. I am really looking forward to the telecommuting part three days a week when I am fully trained. Of course there will still be a lot of driving to audits, but it will give me a relief on the commute.

The duties seem fairly straightforward. My co-workers do have a lot of responsibilities, but I do notice that the technical skills required for this job are fairly specific. When I audited governmental agencies, I was required to keep up with all GAAP and GAGAS requirements (both the new accounting requirements for all types of entities and governmental requirements). I would perform financial statement audits, federal contract compliance audits and other audits that determined if the government was following state and local laws, along with following their own policies. These types of audits are specifically for one type of item, and totally different then any of the above things I did. It requires less accounting/auditing knowledge utilizing CPA firm type knowledge and more of a focus on specific tax codes. A bit more like an IRS Revenue Agent.

I found I get to investigate whoever I feel is at risk for avoiding taxes in our District Tax Office area. I have a quota of 3 UE audits (Underground Economy audits which means I have to find, audit and fine 3 businesses a month once I am fully trained) with an additional 2 program audits. Program audits are randomly selected businesses and they do not need to be shown to owe money, they are just audited to conform with the requirements from the Department of Labor (Fed agency for unemployment). It makes me nervous to not only have the power to select and investigate businesses but also to assess any fines. Along with that responsibility (which I have no problem with) I do have a quota I have to reach a month. I don’t think I would abuse it, but any person who has a quota, has the power to select and fine/penalize people makes me uncomfortable.

Although I have to say the people in my office seem really cool. None of them are UE (Underground Economy Auditors) I will be the only one for my office (they all do the randomly assigned program audits) who investigates people. It also makes me nervous that none of them volunteered to take this position. My position is actually on a higher pay grade than the rest of the auditors (even though it maxes out way below my last job). When I asked why no-one went for the opening, they all told me they like their current jobs (they have all been there years and years). Makes me nervous about this position, BUT I have to say everyone (including management, and people in Olympia) have been nothing but supportive. So I think its worth giving a chance.

Oh, last thing I forgot to mention was this is a perfect resume job if I ever try and hop to the IRS (which if the DoD doesn’t work out, is my next target). This is almost exactly like an investigative revenue agent, except instead of income tax I am looking for unpaid unemployment taxes.