Today my heart was filled with anxiety, hope and promise as I came to work. This was not an ordinary Manic Monday. Indeed this was a special Monday. I came to work toting not just my lunch and my day planner in my backpack, but also a vital document. It contained just about a quarter page of 10 point font text. In those short lines lay not mere words, but possibility and hope for my future.
You see, on Thursday’s staff meeting the owner of the clinic where I am employed finally uttered the ten-word phrase I had so longed to hear: I think we need to start paying you a salary. Aaah. These sweet words fell on my ears like rain in the desert. When I started, we had talked about my position probably growing into a full-time gig. Patiently I waited and now, at last the stars had aligned. I had shown myself to be an excellent fit for the position; learning fast, doing all that was asked of me and more, getting along well with the team and helping out with consuming any chocolate and/or other goodies taking up valuable office space. Meanwhile the owner’s belly grew rounder every day as her baby’s due date approached. The only plausible solution: make sure I am fully trained before the baby arrives, give me all the work, and pay me accordingly. Halle-freaking-lujah!!!! Not only did she want to put me on salary but she also suggested I come up with a figure that I thought was “fair.”
Now I was in uncharted territory. There was no Garmin to help me navigate this route, either. In the past my job offers have gone like this:
Employer: We’d like to offer you the position.
Me: Wow, thanks! (enthusiastically)
Employer: We can offer you x salary
Me: Ok… (remembering to feign ambivalence). Is that negotiable?
Me: Ok, when would you like me to start?
I consulted nearly everyone I encountered between Thursday and Sunday night. I made my boyfriend participate in a role play where he got to be a pregnant woman and say things like “I don’t think we can do that for you” and “That’s not what I had in mind.” I wrote and rewrote my proposal like it was my acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize. Sunday night around 9:30pm, I finally came up with a figure plus extras like benefits, vacation, etc that seemed reasonable.
By the time I handed in the proposal I had envisioned every possible direction this conversation could go except the way it actually did go. She seemed to think it was pretty reasonable. After about 25 minutes of amicable, dare I say… cheerful discussion, she said she would “crunch some numbers” and get back to me. Hurray! She had not grimaced when she saw the parameters I had laid out. Rather her words, body language and occasional joking and laughter in the conversation indicated she thought my proposal a reasonable summation of my worth to her business.
Satisfied with the start to our negotiation, I sat back down at the computer and heard my stomach talking to me. It said “Asking for money makes me HUNGRY!” I went over to the fridge and took my apple and a hearty handful of salted cashews. Sweet, salty, and crunchy. Fiber and protein. A divine little late-afternoon snack it was. So divine in fact that the boss remarked, “You’re making me want my apple!” My heart sunk as she ventured toward the kitchenette.
“Ummm…. I hope there were 2 apples in the fridge.”
Shit!!! I seriously thought I was eating my apple from last week but oh my god I just asked for more money than I have ever asked anyone for, ever, and I think I just ate the snack of the decision-maker!!!
I visualized the fridge contents of 15 minutes prior and alas saw only one apple. In a wild frenzy, I did the calculations in my head. One minus one is zero. Leaving zero apples for my boss…
“I’m so sorry! I must have eaten your apple. I totally thought that was my apple I left there from last week. Do you want some cashews? I have 2 yogurts… I also have a South Beach bar… I am so sorry!!”
She took a couple cashews and assured me it was alright.
If I don’t get all the vacation days I requested I will always wonder what could have been if I had not been tempted by that stupid forbidden fruit.