#22: Ask for a Raise

29 Dec

I bought my dog, Chaucer, a winter coat to match mine. New York has changed me.

I am going to count this, because it was difficult, terrified me, and I got something great out of it.

About a month ago, my dear friend Kayla told me about a position opening at her company. It was another receptionist position, but it paid better, the hours were stable, and it would be a lot less drama than the veterinary clinic. After numerous interviews (one in which a CEO showed me youtube videos of Kurt Cobain. AWKWARD!), I stood in a room with a bunch of suits shaking my hand and offering me a pretty tempting pay increase. As they escorted me out, I glanced at my new reception desk, where my predecessor was alone, staring deeply into her computer, doing data entry and occasionally picking up the phone.

“This is a good opportunity,” I told myself, trying to awaken the excitement butterflies that usually float around in my stomach when I am offered a new job.

I returned to the vet clinic for the rest of my shift that day. I walked in the door, and a gaggle of puppies ran up to me wagging their tails. Once I’d clocked in, I headed to our reception desk where Ace of Base was playing, and my co-workers were recounting their weekend. I felt at home. The noise, the chaos, the animals. It makes me happy.

But my life felt stagnant. My job was becoming mundane. I was sometimes given special projects, but for the most part, I answer phones and process invoices. I have a very active mind. Something I’ve learned about myself in the last year is that if I am not being challenged, if I am not learning, I become restless and unhappy. So it had become clear to me that I couldn’t stay where I was, but I wasn’t happy about the opportunity before me.

The clinic is currently understaffed as far as technicians go. A couple of them have quit, and the head technician, Jose, is having a difficult time finding replacements.

“They’ve had almost no replies to the ad,” my co-worker Junie told me. The wheels in my head were turning.
“They’ve trained staff before for their position, right?” I asked.
Junie put down her pen and turned to look at me. “Yeah, they have…”
“But mainly the kennel staff?”
“Yeah?”
“Would they ever train a receptionist?”
“Girl! I knew you were going to say that!” she said with a smile. “You need to talk to Dr. S about that.”

But I was too scared for that. So once it got quiet in the office, I found myself back in treatment, where Jose was going over the technician schedules trying to cover the holes. I nervously stood by all the gifts our clients had given us, quietly shoving cookies and Godiva chocolates in my face. I finally mosied up to Jose, mouth still brimming with sweets.

“Still trying to find a technician?”
“Yeah,” he said poring over the papers in front of him. “It’s hard to find reliable people.”
“Well…” I shoved another cookie in my mouth. “I’m…kind of…interested.” I mumbled.
He turned to me with an enormous smile. “You are? With the bloods and the catheters and the math and the surgery?”
I nodded, smiling stupidly.
“Well I’d be happy to train you. But you have to talk to Dr. S first.”

The next day I was shaking nervously. I almost backed out. But Junie threatened to shove me into Dr. S’s office. So I took a deep breath and cornered him in the hallway.

“Can I talk to you about something?”
He nodded and ushered me into his office with a grimace. He plopped into his chair, and I stood before him, terrified. I blurted out my plan, my idea. I was using my hands emphatically as I spoke, and I couldn’t look at him. I finally finished my rambling and looked at him. He had a huge smile on his face.
“Wow. I had no idea this is something you were interested in. I don’t know if this is too big a question, but what are your plans for your life?”
“I don’t really know. I just know I love working with these animals, and I find myself looking through the charts and eavesdropping on the exams. I need a challenge, and I think I’d be good at this.”
“I think you’d be great at it. You know how I feel about you. You are capable of just about anything, and if you think you might want to become a vet, you’d be a damn good one. I’d love to move you into a medical position that could help you get into a good vet school, and we’d be there to help you through the pre-med.”
We discussed it a bit more, and I left his office beaming with excitement.
As I walked down the hall, he hollered after me, “Don’t ever scare me like that again. I thought you were going to tell me you were moving back to Warshington or something.”

So in one week, I begin my training. It’ll be a gradual transition from reception to technician, and there is no pay increase at the moment. In fact, technicians usually require an associates degree, so the fact that I’m getting paid training without the educational requirements, and once I’m a full-time technician, a pay increase will come.

I am still writing. I am still applying to MFA programs. I’m not sure if in seven years I’ll be a creative writing professor, a doctor of veterinary medicine, a mole person, or a poet in Paris. I just know that this opportunity is too good to pass up, and I feel so excited about it all.

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2 Responses to “#22: Ask for a Raise”

  1. kate December 29, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    I’m glad you finally accept mole people.

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