It's always nice to hear you're wanted...
I took a day off from work, fired up Miss Direction (the name I gave the GPS program used on road trips), and headed toward the company's office in VA.
The first thing that started doubts about this job was the lengthy commute it might involve. Granted, for the past 15+ years I've been spoiled that I've only had at most a 20 minute commute to work places. This job would involve a 70 minute commute (one way), OR 11 hours a week, OR over 500 hours over the course of the work year.
That's A LOT of time; almost two weeks of my life would be spent traveling to and from work on a busy road, dealing with crazy drivers, potentially hazardous winter weather, and rush hours. On the plus side, I could listen to ALOT of books (I estimated nearly 40 over a year's time), I could maybe learn a new language, and I could always de-stress by listening to the radio.
Once I arrived on their campus and rode the elevator to their office floor, I was confronted with a dilemma - a message on their office door instructed visitors to press the green button to request someone to open the security door. The dilemma? There were two green buttons on the console. I did an "eeny meeny miney mo" and pressed a button -- just as someone entering the elevator lobby asked me if he could help me while a voice from the console asked me what I wanted.
My stress level jumped to a +90. While answering the console I looked at the guy asking me questions, hoping he'd get the message that I was trying to juggle two balls with one hand.
I mispronounced the name of the person I was supposed to report to, but saying their name caused all sorts of action to take place. Doors opened, people appeared in the lobby of the office - it was like watching the opening of the circus. I just waited for the clowns to roll in all stuffed in a teeny tiny car.
The lady assigned to interview me appeared and walked me back to an office room, then remembered it would soon be needed for a meeting, so she bounced me over to another room. She closed the door, we made introductions, and proceeded to chat.
First impression - she hardly made any eye contact. She was very nice, but she seemed about as nervous as I did trying to get into the place.
Several questions later, she was ending the interview. No discussion about salary, no tour of the facility, very little discussion about what the company was all about. So after 15 minutes, I was shown the door and I headed toward the elevator and out of the building.
I got back into the car and thought, "Hmmm...and for that I burned a vacation day?"
I drove back home not having a warm and fuzzy feeling about this job. I decided while driving home that if they wanted me, it would probably all come down to salary. I'd have to see some good numbers before deciding to accept something that felt like it was going to be super-stressful - more so than just the normal job stress.
Several days later, I received a call from the company with a verbal offer. The salary was disappointing and I was given ONE day to decide whether to accept or reject the offer. I wanted to discuss things with my current employer so I wasn't given much time. The Human Resources person indicated that the project manager with whom I would be working was headed toward a deadline - and I was given the impression that it would be up to me to help make that deadline happen - THREE DAYS AFTER BEING HIRED. And I noticed - with my trained editor's eye - that the offer letter emailed to me was dated incorrectly.
Before the deadline time to accept the offer arrived, I did some research on the company using employee review sites on the internet. The reviews I saw were dated, but the majority of them were not good. The only really positive employee review I read was from their former technical writer. Positive Me tried to think, "Well, they are old reviews, and disgruntled employees are far more likely to use such websites as ways to get their final dig into a company they feel might have treated them unfairly." Negative Me thought there might be some validity in the employee complaints, and I wondered why the company had not made an effort to improve their appearance on such review websites. If it were MY company, I certainly would be doing something about it.
In the end, the thought of all that time on the road helped me to decide not to accept the company's offer. Life is more about the numbers on a paycheck. It's not that I didn't struggle with deciding to turn the company down. I did - it's always hard to decide on life changes. And I'm not saying pay isn't important - I still have to pay bills and feed my "kids", but in the end I find myself qualifying quality of life with hours of life involved.
I don't know if my name is now a cuss word to a few folks - I tried to indicate in my non-acceptance email that had the position allowed a measure of telecommuting, I probably would have accepted their offer for a lower rate of pay. But, I received no response - and I'm guessing with such a short time to decide they were more interested in meeting deadlines and not interested in negotiating.
Such is life, sometimes.