I don’t even know where to begin.  Sounds like a familiar opener in here perhaps?  I never knew it was possible to feel such a heightened range of emotions all at once – excitement, rage, hopelessness, panic – see how most of those are negative?  That’s what’s been chipping away at me.

I was supposed to be back at work this past week.  Feeling engaged, not enraged.  But my work assignment start date has been delayed now over two weeks.

Yes, two weeks.

How long is a reasonable time to wait, especially when it’s something out of my control and out of the recruiting firm’s control?  How many times can I call, email or bitch asking when the start date’s gonna be?  All the onboarding paperwork and email setup’s been completed with the recruiting firm.  I’ve got a laptop ready to rock and a brain waiting to get out of mushville from not working all these months.  What’s the problem?  Well, apparently it’s a transactional delay on the client’s side which is holding up the remainder of what they need to do in order to allow me (and one other person, actually) to come on campus and hit it hard.

How fucking sad is it that it’s not even a grey area contract negotiation issue.  It’s simply some transactional paperwork rotting in someone’s inbox or an old stinky email in someone’s queue that’s lacking attention.  Don’t people realize that there are PEOPLE just like THEM behind the numbers and paper??

At first I was able to keep a sense of humor through these delays and tell the recruiter you know, my soon to be new co-worker and I are ready to pitch a tent in front of the building we’re going to be at until this is finished – I’ll bring s’mores and we’ll croak out a few folks songs on the guitar.  But after awhile, humor and patience wear thin.  Keep in mind I’d interviewed with the hiring manager on April 13th and had expected to start work April 26th.  So here it is; a full two-week delay. 

And meanwhile, I’d started taking myself off the job market gradually – letting people know the good news I’d be starting something new very soon, thanking other recruiters for all their help and that we’ll keep in touch and on and on.  And I’d been getting calls, texts and emails from people asking hey, how’s the new job coming along?  How stupid does it sound to say well, guess what it’s been delayed.  

This past Thursday I hit the wall.  I woke up with my stomach in knots and wondering if I’d been a fool to wait all this time doing pretty much nothing but waiting and bugging the recruiting firm for some action.  I called the recruiter and he asked in his usual cheery voice “how are you?”

My answer:  “…do you want the REAL answer?”  It got quiet.  And then I told him they were officially at risk of losing me for this assignment.  I thanked him for all he and his team have done to push this through – I don’t blame them one single bit for this mess – but still the net result is I’m not working and I’d thought I’d be the last week of April.  He understood.  And I told him something like, “Is it bad that I’ve forgotten what [hiring manager] looks like?”  Maybe a last grasp attempt at some humor there.  But that humor was the truth.

So, I knew I needed a back-up plan but I wasn’t sure how to start.  How do you go about re-networking and saying hey, guess what I thought I’d have started that new job by now but there’s a delay on the client side that is clerical-based and so I can’t start yet and I need to get back to work so do you have any leads?  How retarded does that sound?  And can I even do this without sounding bitter or bitchy?

I sat here in front of the laptop, trembling with tears in my eyes and I buried my face in my hands.  I felt more hopeless than I ever had in recent memory, so out of control.  I took a deep breath and asked the Universe for help.

What happened next is, well…let’s just say you can’t make this shit up.

Within an hour of asking for Help my friend P IM’d me (sent me an instant message).  Keep in mind this is something she rarely does – we usually talk on the phone or email.  She asked me if I knew someone – a name I didn’t recognize.  It was someone whom I apparently had a 2nd degree connection with on LinkedIn.

I checked my LinkedIn contacts and didn’t recognize the name nor the person we “know” in common.  But then it dawned on me…the person we know in common is someone who facilitates job networking mixers.  So, it was just a business-card-in-common connection, nothing more than that.  She said they were thinking of offering this person a job on her team and she was wondering if I knew anything more about him.  She asked me how I was doing and how the job was going and I said, well, guess what – we’re going on a near two-week start delay! 

She wrote “call me” and the whirlwind started from there.

P and I used to work at the same company a couple years ago (and she is still there).  We didn’t work in the same department but we have similar job titles and got to know eachother that way…and have stayed in touch even after my group got RIF’d from there awhile back.  She said she thought I’d be a possible good fit for this job opening and said she didn’t even think to ask me if I’d be interested because she assumed – rightly so – that I’d be at my new job already.

The back-up plan was now officially underway.  Between P and another person at that company, I knew I had strong advocates.  And after hearing no news on a job start date for two weeks it is THE most wonderful feeling to pick up the phone, call an old friend and colleague and have them say, “Hey, why don’t you come back and work with us again – we’d love to have you!” 

Within mere hours I was on the phone with P’s Director and we hit it off.  And even though it was starting to be close to around dinner time he was able to schedule time for me to come onsite and interview with him and a few other folks the next morning!  WOW!  Very impressive hustle.  I was totally open with him about my situation…that I’m waiting on something else that could possibly pop any moment but I don’t have an ETA.  I didn’t think I’d be a shoo-in for this new thing that came literally out of nowhere but I knew I’d have people going to the mat for me and I knew I’d love to someday return.

The next morning I got up, showered…and the phone rang.  It was the recruiting firm for the job I was supposed to start weeks ago.  Good news – everything’s been approved and you and [the other person] will start early next week!  REALLY???  I was standing there in my bathrobe, wet hair in a towel, getting ready to go interview somewhere else.  I was shocked at how…shocked my voice sounded.  Is this really for real?  I didn’t tell the recruiting firm I had a back-up plan already in motion – it really wasn’t any of their business.  I croaked out an “OK!” and tried to be excited.  It kind of scared me that I wasn’t.

And it also scared me that there had to be escalating and head thumping at higher levels to get things moving along.  I don’t know the whole story other than what I’ve heard 2nd or 3rd hand so I’m not going to try and summarize it in here.  If we’ve gotta be heavy-handed assholes, threatening to walk, why can’t we save that for special occasions like majorly complex negotiations at an impasse?  Is it really necessary to pound upper-level heads to get a freaking “approve” button pushed on something so simple?  Where’s the sense of urgency??

So, I called the Director I was supposed to be meeting with in about 90 minutes and explained things were fixed up and that I’d be taking this original assignment after all.  I still was open to meeting with him and the others as he’d scheduled, but I told him I didn’t want to waste his or any of his team’s time given I wouldn’t be immediately available after all.  He was super cool about the whole thing, and we agreed to keep in touch going forward.  He was genuinely interested in considering me for future opportunities.  So while this whole thing was a little whirlwind, I don’t think it was flakey.  I try to keep a little grace and tact interjected into how I conduct myself, even when things flip and change on a dime.

I ended up having a great, long lunch with P (which was part of the interview plan anyway).  I don’t know if she knows how much I appreciate what she did to help get me out of a panicked funk on Thursday but…thanks, P!  I sent the Director a thank you note and smiled knowing I have yet another new connection on my contact list.  We’ll consider the seed at that company officially re-planted.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a laptop bag, water bottle and small tube of hand lotion gathering dust on the dining room table.  Let’s get this party started already!!

So, I am taking a leap of faith and considering today, Saturday, the start of a gloriously sunny 3-day weekend.  But I know I’ll feel better once my cheeks are in a seat at work, whenever that is.