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This past week I found myself ‘tested.’

My husband got a friend of ours a job where he works. Of the four jobs this friend has had during his adult life, my husband was instrumental in him getting three of those jobs.

Around Christmas time last year our friend became aware of the bonus my husband received. He expressed interest in possibly getting a job at the same business. My husband told him they were hiring, that he should go down and put an application in.

Our friend has a couple of student loans he’s paying on as well as typical utilities and daily living expenses. Initially, he was excited that a higher hourly wage, mandatory overtime and a yearly bonus would allow him to pay down his loans more quickly and perhaps he could afford a car.

We spent a lot of time talking to him about my husband’s schedule. He knows that my husband works mandatory overtime from the end of May until the end of August, that his regular work week consists of four nine hour days and four hours on Fridays.

He eagerly went down and put an application in. He got a call to come in for an interview in roughly two weeks after applying. He was hired at the end of the interview. He got a tour of the plant and completed his ‘new hire’ paperwork before leaving. He put in his notice at his previous job. Everything seemed to be going well.

Last week I happened to be talking with our friend and mentioned that my husband pointed out that by the time overtime begins he’ll have completed his probation period and should receive a fifty cent an hour raise. He’ll start overtime with his new wage.

Our friend made a face and asked me how long overtime is, when it starts. I reminded him and he physically seemed to ‘deflate.’ His whole affect changed. He began complaining that when he had his tour he was told overtime only consisted of an additional five hours on Fridays but he’d have his Saturdays and Sundays free.  He started complaining that he won’t have time to do anything he wants to do. I pointed out that it’s only for three months of the year and that he wanted to apply extra payments to his student loans, it would be worth it if he could pay those off early.

He quickly responded by telling me that he has ten years to pay off his loans and he’s planning on paying the amount he’s currently paying, that he’ll put extra money in his saving account to get a car, but he wanted a job with a regular schedule, that he wants his weekends free. He left to go home and behaved as if he were completely dejected.

At first when he was leaving I experienced a flood of emotions. I felt as if his behavior suggested that he felt we had misled him about the requirements of the job, that he hadn’t been told about the duration of overtime or how much overtime would be expected.

I found myself questioning if there was some way we hadn’t prepared him, if we hadn’t been clear enough, if we’d misled him in some way… questioning if his response was justified. I was miserable… hurt, angry.

I stopped myself and thought about the situation. I took a few breaths and consciously tried to prevent myself from overreacting.

I flashed back on a similar situation that had taken place a little more than a year before, when he had started the last job he had. He had complained then as he was doing this time, that he wanted a set schedule, wanted weekends off. We’d told him if he showed up on time, was reliable, if he was willing to go in to cover, showing his employer he had a good work ethic, if he did right by them, they would do right by him and try to accommodate him, as they had my husband.

He’d called me, complaining that he asked his employer if he could come in late, so he could go to see an apartment to rent, only a couple of weeks into his employment. They told him they’d prefer if he came in to work and they would give him extra time on his lunch break to go see the apartment. I told him that seemed fair to me, they didn’t have to give him any time to go see it. He accused me of ‘changing my story’, that I had said they would accommodate him.

As I thought about it, I realized his little ‘melt down’ had nothing to do with me, but I was about to take responsibility for his feelings. His reaction wasn’t brought about by anything I’d said or that I hadn’t said.

He knows what my husband’s schedule has been for the past two years, he knows when he worked overtime, when the plant shut down for maintenance, how their schedule worked out. No one needed to tell him to begin with, he’s had to adapt his own schedule to my husband’s in the past.

I then addressed him regarding the situation. I explained that I’d found his behavior to be ungrateful, that rather than being appreciative that he had gotten a better paying job, with health insurance, paid holidays, yearly bonuses, overtime and stability (this company has been in business for nearly 60 years and has NEVER had a lay off) he had created unnecessary negativity and shared it with everyone around him.

After I’d had time to process everything I reminded myself that he’s young, he hasn’t had many life experiences and had lots of support throughout his life, never really taking responsibility for himself, therefore his expectations are a bit unrealistic. He has a lot to learn, the same lessons we all have to learn as we mature and strike out on our own. He prefers to learn for himself, rather than accept advice or suggestions, so let it be.

I feel as though I passed a test. I stopped myself from falling back into old patterns, I stepped out of the situation and thought things through, I accessed a previous situation for reference and recognized that I had not been ‘responsible’ for his feelings or his misunderstanding. I then addressed the situation and my feelings with him, rather than allowing things to fester and become a wedge between us.

 

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