Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cut my throat, it'll heal

This is a cut throat industry. You might think that because we are a group of caring individuals that we all treat each other the same way we treat the families we deal with. Well, think again.

When I applied for a position at a certain out of state funeral home it became apparent to me during the first interview that they wanted me. I had met with the owner and his wife and the interview had taken place over lunch. I fit into the position perfectly and they seemed like nice enough people who acted impressed. The offer sounded pretty good but I knew there were certain things that I was going to have to ask for as a condition to employment. At the second interview all of my concerns were covered and met. The owner did however tell me at that time that they had intended to retire in a few years and that the business would be sold, he was afraid that information might change my decision and he felt I needed to know it up front. I saw that as a possible opportunity and quickly let them know that I might be interested in purchasing the business in time if it turned out to be a match. My final request was that they give me the first opportunity to either say yes or no before they made the "for sale" public. After all, I was selling my home and uprooting my family to another state; it had to be worth the move. They agreed entirely but let me know that there would be no monetary break to me since this was what they were depending on for retirement. Not a problem. At this point it was all talk but sounded like a plan.

One month later my wife and I were living in a new home in a new state both fortunately with jobs. As time progressed the four of us became friends both in and out of the funeral home. They vacationed a lot and I was left entirely in charge of the business a good part of the time. There was no question that they were pleased with my performance as well as how I was fitting into the community. More time passed. During this time I often questioned them about their retirement and gave them little bits of information that I thought might help them. We were becoming more and more like a family. My wife and I had proposed to them that we were in fact interested in purchasing the business at their retirement and they both seemed pleased. Our plans were now set into motion, we just had to wait.

It had been seven years since I started with them and we had a specific part-timer who was finally retiring. Gifts were planned, a party, all the necessary things surrounding an employer and a retiring employee. All but one thing, a replacement. I had broached the subject on more than one occasion and never got a clear answer. Never considering that the seven year relationship with my new found family might be drawing to an end. One day he finally answered my question about a replacement with the truth. "I've been meaning to tell you, the business has been sold". What? I had to have heard that wrong. When I expressed my concern about what I thought I had heard he merely apologized and let me know I had heard right. "I've promised the buyer not to tell anyone who he is but the good news is that he has agreed, in contract, to keep you on with the business". That sure made me feel a whole lot less shitty.
The FOLLOWING day, the owner tells me that he had a conversation with the buyer and had gotten the impression that he wasn't going to be able to afford me, contract or not. Besides there was nothing in writing about how long he would keep me. I might want to consider this over the weekend. Well, that weekend I considered a lot of things. But what followed on Monday was not one of my considerations. Monday the owner tells me he had another conversation with a local competitor and they were looking to hire someone right in the area. If I wanted, I could call because they were expecting to hear from me. It didn't take me long to decide to go for it since there was the possibility that I wouldn't have a job very soon anyway and even if I did hang around there it would be like a new job so why not just start fresh.

I scheduled an appointment for that afternoon and met with the General Manager and Location Manager. The General Manager seemed to know quite a bit about me but I chalked that up to the fact that they had been trying to woo me into that firm for years. He explained that their business had taken a huge turn for the better and that's why they were looking for additional help. I explained that the place I was currently in was being sold and the new owner probably couldn't afford me so I was glad this job just arose. Again, before I left them I had a job. I told them I could start in two weeks after I gave notice which I did verbally that night. Now here's the twist. As it turned out, not only did I give my notice that night but so did the General Manager who hired me. He was moving on to better things, he had just purchased a funeral home!!! My funeral home!!! This was the only time in my life that I was hired somewhere because I wasn't wanted. It was then that I learned what it felt like to be a consolation prize.

I've since moved on to better things myself and I understand that his funeral home is doing well. At first I despised the whole crowd for what they did or didn't do but I've gotten over that and just keep my eyes open a little wider now. To me that was cutthroat.

1 comment:

MedStudentWife said...

That was downright nasty. Guess he had no such thing as "ethics" - just in it for the "bottom-line".

One drug store I worked at was a privately owned business. The owner was really good to us - good pay for retail, Christmas bonus & other perques.

I left to work else where in March of a year. Not even two months after I had left, I got a call from one of the techs, that had been working loyaly there, for 5 years. She said the pharmacist owner had sold the store to a big chain and hadn't told them at all until the day of the handover.

As of the following day, they all had a cut in pay etc.They had no chance to go look elsewhere beforehand.

Most of the staff, who were loyal felt really betrayed.

I was lucky - I got out by the "skin of my teeth".

So I hear you.