Sunday, October 10, 2010

When we're down and troubled

Life can be tedious, but it can also be joyful.

I am usually upbeat, though lately things are going to hell in a wicker fruit basket with cheerful designs on it.

I quit my job then days later my meagre paycheque was garnisheed to pay a debt that's been nagging at me since my ex left more than two years ago.

On the quit my job front, I was left with no choice. My employer had been piling on more and more work without providing any resources to get all the new jobs done. Well, I was the 'resource' but there's a limit to what one person can do after having already put in a full week writing, editing and publishing a weekly newspaper.

In effect, my employer, at his whim, changed my job. I was hired nine years ago to put out the best newspaper in the province. I think our numerous writing awards each of those years proved we were doing just that. However — as we were told — that's not quite good enough. There is, after all, this wonderful abstraction called convergence. (A word almost as misused as synergy — another word for nothing.)

Convergence in the publishing industry is all about producing both a print product and a digital product. The only problem in the case of Sun Media, my illustrious employer, is that they think I can converge at a moment's notice. And that I'll do all the heavy convergence lifting for my newspaper. In all, Sun Media, knowing full well that some people are not slaves to some flawed corporate ideology, showed me the door. I had no choice.

On the garnishee business, I wrote to my creditor and made an offer that I could live with — they could not. I acknowledged my debt, though some of it was racked up during my years with my ex. We had structured our lives (home, car, spending) on a double income. When she left (and I'm not suggesting she didn't have good reason), I was left to cover a mortgage built for two, outstanding debts we'd both accumulated and so forth.

I'm not faulting the credit card company for trying to recover its money. The card was in my name; I am the only person responsible in the eyes of the law.

So there you are. It's been a bit of a trying week.

The upside is that I can always shovel snow, paint, write and do all manner of physical labour.

I'll need all of that because there's every chance the folks at Employment Insurance will not look favorably on my decision to leave my employ. I would argue — though I hope I don't have to because it will take aeons to pursue — that what happened to me, as happens to many people everyday, amounts to constructive dismissal. The Supreme Court of Canada has weighed in on this.

The essence of the 1997 decision of Canada's highest court is that an employer cannot unilaterally (even if not acting in bad faith) change a person's employment contract.

My argument could hinge on whether I actually had a contract of employment. However that would be splitting legal hairs in my opinion. In any event, it's a battle I'd sooner not have to wage.

Such are the challenges we face in these 'modern' times. It seems our employers have us over the proverbial barrel. It's ever been thus, one supposes.

Of course, I needn't have left my job. I could have continued to suffer the ignominy, the arrogant expectations of my employer. (It's small consolation but I'm not the first to leave Mother Corp; nor will I be the last.)

There is a limit to what each of us can abide. I'm probably more accommodating than most. Things just got out of hand.

Tough beans for me, I guess.

Not to worry. There's always an upside. Look for the joy; be prepared for it.

It's only a dream away.

1 comment:

  1. I love your, "they think I can converge at a moment's notice". Congratulations Jim on all of your award winning work over the years! I had read about the awards in my excursions on the 'Net.