Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Not fired, and ANGRY AT G-D FOR IT.

It has been a few days since my last blog entry where I was sure I was being set up to be fired, and to my consternation and disappointment, I wasn't fired. I received a few e-mails from readers about the difference between being fired for cause versus being laid off, and one thing that I kept in my head was that I wasn't doing anything wrong -- despite the fact that I would love nothing more than to be laid off so that I can be free of this negative environment, I still had a halachic duty to perform my work diligently and not to intentionally get fired. I kept a clear paper trail of the work that I did, the results that I produced, and despite the fact that I submitted everything on time and ready to be filed, we still missed the 4-month patent application deadline.

I was quite annoyed at this concept of being fired for cause, but the law in the state that I'm working is that regardless of whether your boss chews you out when you do something wrong, if he lets you go back to work afterward and doesn't fire you on the spot, and if he later changes his mind and fires you for your screw-up anyway, that is not considered being fired for cause because he let you go back to work. In my mind its similar to the adultry divorce cause of action -- you can't use it if you reunited with your spouse after the adultry and then change your mind and get a divorce anyway. You'll lose in court.

Anyway, all that is side news. Aside from the shock and terror of being fired because I felt that I was being set up, I am even more upset now that I haven't been fired at all. Look, I prayed many times for G-d to direct me in the correct path, and if I wasn't supposed to be fired, then I would accept that. I was just hoping that wouldn't be his plan. I have plans. I really want to leave and to move on. I am very -- VERY -- unhappy at my current job. I have no friends there. I have insufficient skills to do the work they're having me do. I can't concentrate because I am so stressed out most of the day. I am tormented by my boss who waits until I have my jacket on to leave for the day before he pulls me into his office for an hour long meeting grilling me about something or other, all the while knowing that I was leaving for the day. Even on Fridays when he knows I need to leave early for Shabbos. Since I've been working for him, there hasn't been ONE Friday these past few months where he hasn't delayed me in some form or another by calling me in for a discussion or asking me to do some task AFTER it became time for me to leave for the weekend. Most of the time so far I've been able to deal with it, in that I usually leave an hour earlier than I need to, just to account for unknowns such as traffic and delays. Cutting back to the point, it's a very negative environment and I wish my tenure there would end so that I can move on with my life.

I made the decision with my wife when I went to visit my wife's family that either way -- whether I'm fired or not -- I'm going to leave my job and we're going to move to where my wife's family is so that we can be nearer to them and so my wife and I can go back to school -- me for an electrical engineering degree, and my wife -- well, she wants to keep that private, because it doesn't jive with her other degree.

That being said, I also decided that I do not necessarily want or need to work for a law firm upon graduation. Rather, I decided that as soon as I can, I will be opening up my own patent law practice. I purchased the "How to Start & Build a Law Practice" by Jay G. Foonberg book, and I've been reading it and I believe that I fit the personality of one who would start his own law practice. Thus, in response to Anonymous' comment, you're right. Law firms suck. They're conformists and they don't give people like me even a chance, EVEN THOUGH I will have the electrical engineering degree. You know what I say? Screw them. I will get the degree anyway and I will generate my own business. I have hundreds of contacts with technology companies from working with them over the past years, and am friends with MANY patent attorney lawyers. I have no doubt that I can generate enough business to keep me busy for the rest of my life. However, I do feel that if I am to stay in patent law (which I must because the state in which I will be practicing patent law and starting a patent practice is NOT a state I am admitted to -- I have checked into this a billion times -- there is no issue with this because the law being practiced is federal law, not state law, and I am licensed by the US Patent & Trademark Office to practice patent law) I do need a specialty, because my liberal arts undergraduate degree just won't cut it in the patent world, even working as a generalist patent attorney on my own. I do believe an EE degree WILL help me get business, and to get a job working in-house for a technology firm later on if I choose to.

Now here's the G-d part. I am under SO MUCH PRESSURE knowing that if I don't get laid off by the end of the summer, I will be forced to quit and forego unemployment insurance and I'll have to find a way to raise money fast to pay for my wife and my schooling and our living expenses all the while I am back in school. This has been putting an undue amount of pressure on me, and I am having a difficult time dealing with it. I am finding myself angry at G-d for not having my boss fire me when he had the chance and when I had no work to do, and I don't understand (not like I need to) why he is not making things easy for me, and if he has other plans for me like he usually does contrary to what I think his plan is for me, I wish he'd make his plans known so I don't have to have a heart attack or a stroke from the stress of not knowing what is in store and hating... HATING where I am in life. I was crying today and I asked G-d, "what have I done that is so bad or so wrong that you punish me each day having me stay in an environment where I'm tormented and kicked around like a punching bag? Why do I deserve this?" and I find myself getting more and more distant from G-d in SPITE and ANGER at him making my life so difficult. I have paid my dues. I have always worked hard. Why is it that life is so darn difficult? Why is it that people who did not go to college and did not get educated take home more money every week with their $25,000 annual income than I do with my six-figure school loans and mounting interest that I can't get out from underneath? Why am I forced to be a slave in this lawyer job world system? Why can't I just say sionara to all my debt, declare bankruptcy, tell everyone to take a flying hike and just disappear out of the system?? Why?

12 comments:

Meir said...

Zoe,

I'm not ignoring you. I just don't really have anything to say. You write very well (from the heart). I hope everything works out for you.

ChassidisheMama said...

Hey maybe G-d needs you to cleanse your soul a little bit longer to prepare you for the next stage of life. I'm sure when it comes You will have a better understanding of why you had to go through all this, as you always see when you get to the next stage. Just keep on trekking the day is almost here.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, you remind me of the old joke about the man who keeps fervently praying to God to help him win the lottery and get him out of terrible debt. After many, many prayers, a voice booms down--Buy a ticket (polite version). Perhaps God's plan, to the extent the He might involve himself in anyone's life, is for you to do for yourself and take on your own responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Haha!!! So true, this guy is just so ridiculous and childish.

Zoe Strickman said...

It's okay Anonymous. I wouldn't deny for a second that I was being childish in my thoughts and in my emotions. My wife told me herself that she thought my comparisons to uneducated people and the "it's not fair!" mentality is childish.

However, I still stand behind them because they are truly how I feel and if or whether or not I mature in the next few hours, days, weeks, or years does not subtract from how I am feeling about this, TODAY, RIGHT NOW.

Be happy that at least someone speaks his mind and his thoughts. There are so many lies out there that it should be refreshing to hear what someone is really thinking, even though it is not as mature or thought out as you would like it to be.

Rae Macklyn said...

I understand your frustration about your career and everything around you, but unfortunately (and I'm sure that I'm not the first person to tell you this): times are hard for a majority of folks right now, and each and every one of them has their own story to tell that equals if not excels your own when it comes to hardships, unfairness, etc.

Having said as much, and knowing that you'd like to be "laid off" in the near future, take care to look into the unemployment rules in the state you'll be relocating to: if your employer makes a case in any manner whatsoever to the effect that you were FIRED (rather than laid off), you will not qualify for unemployment.

Additionally, I hope California isn't where you are headed, as their unemployment program is already insolvent.

Take care,
R.M.

Anonymous said...

Hi, this is the Anonymous who told you that you're not probably not going to get anywhere chasing the EE. Let me respond to a few things in your last post:

"Thus, in response to Anonymous' comment, you're right. Law firms suck."

-Sorry, I never said they suck. I mean, yes, they're difficult places to work in, but they also pay extremely well for pretty much the same hours that most people put in anyways. Of course, every job will have its ups and downs. But I've worked in industry, and worked 60 hour weeks just to make $80,000. Well, I know that's not chump change, but in a law firm, I can make more than double that, and I don't have to work twice as hard. I also get good work from good people. But I'll concede, for 99.9%, law firms suck. But for me they definitely do not suck.

"They're conformists and they don't give people like me even a chance, EVEN THOUGH I will have the electrical engineering degree. You know what I say? Screw them. I will get the degree anyway and I will generate my own business."

-Do you have any real reason to base this, or is this just chest-thumping? Starting your own patent law business is probably 10 times harder than starting your own small business, I don't really understand how you think your EE is going to be that valuable. An EE is NOT the golden ticket you seem to think it is; especially not this online stuff you're doing, and especially not after getting the J.D.

"I have hundreds of contacts with technology companies from working with them over the past years, and am friends with MANY patent attorney lawyers."

-I'm sorry, now you're just being dumb. Everyone has contacts, they are not just going to turn business over to you, ESPECIALLY not other patent attorneys!

"I have no doubt that I can generate enough business to keep me busy for the rest of my life."

-Are you freakin' kidding me? Can you fly if you keep telling yourself so? Seems like a pretty cocky, unsupported statement.

Finally, let me just ask you this, and you didn't answer it the last time I asked you either: Have you gotten assurances from *anyone* in the IP industry that getting an online EE after getting the J.D. will help you become a patent lawyer? Have you talked to recruiters, HR directors, or hiring partners about this and actually gotten any single one person to say, yes, go chase after a EE and we would hire you?

If not, and you're still just going to be head into this path blind and not heed anyone's advice, you kind of deserve the crappy job prospects you are sure to face....sorry, but you need to wake up and sometimes reality can sound harsh.

Rae Macklyn said...

Actually Anonymous, if I were going to head into patent law, I wouldn't waste time with Electrical Engineering anyway...a bioscience field would definitely be the way to go, but everyone has their own preferences.

R.M.

Anonymous said...

Rae, you are absolutely correct; EE is not even guaranteed to be the "hot" field in a few years. Biotech and bioscience are areas most of the inventions are going to be happening.

EE was hot when the Information Age was booming (cell phones, internet, mp3 players, lcd's, all the new stuff that came out in the last decade), and I'm not saying there will be a dropoff for sure. But I'd put my bet on biotech as the next big wave of inventions and technologies that change our lives. Especially now that Obama has allowed embryonic stem cell research.

natasha said...

Watch Natsha Naked!

Ahuva said...

I keep thinking about this post, particularly this part.

"I was quite annoyed at this concept of being fired for cause, but the law in the state that I'm working is that regardless of whether your boss chews you out when you do something wrong, if he lets you go back to work afterward and doesn't fire you on the spot"

It's not "fair" and it's not easy. That's one of the lesson that we all have to learn.

Zoe, from what you write, I really don't see this guy letting you go for lack of work or in any other fashion where you can collect unemployment. If he wants to get rid of you, he's either going to make you so miserable that you leave on your own, or he's going to set you up with a "do x or you will be fired" and then immediately fire you if you don't manage to complete x. In the scenario you told us about, if you hadn't already gotten your work completed, I think he would have fired you on the spot and would have had a very good case set up that would have prevented you from getting unemployment, since he warned you that you would be fired if x wasn't complete. Wanting to be laid off so that you can collect unemployment is just wishful thinking. He's not going to let you off that easily if there's as much animosity as you make it sound.

If it were me, I would do my best to stick it out for at least 12 months (because it doesn't look too good to spend less than a year at your first job), then either find another job or leave to go back to school (preferably an in-class degree as opposed to an online degree since many employers don't believe that online degrees are "real" degrees). Honestly, I think that finding another job and taking evening classes is a safer bet than quitting school entirely and racking up even more debt.

You wrote:
"Why is it that people who did not go to college and did not get educated take home more money every week with their $25,000 annual income than I do with my six-figure school loans and mounting interest that I can't get out from underneath?"

This is only going to get worse if you and your wife go back to school now. Crunch the numbers and make sure they add up before you take on even more debt. And keep in mind that your expenses are only going to increase as your children get older and your wife has more kids.

Anonymous said...

well, i see it's been a while since you wrote. i hope that this means you have stopped blogging; in fact, that was going to be my next advice - stop wasting 2 hours a day blogging and instead use those 2 hours to spend time with your wife, relax, become a better and more productive individual, etc. i'm sure this helps you "unwind" or "reflect' or whatever, but you CANNOT justify spending 10-15 hours a week doing this. get off line and back to your real life.

anyways, i do a lot of research and read about what is going on in my field (something i recommend you start doing *before* choosing an expensive course of action). i read one post that *directly* deals with your situation:

http://www.jdunderground.com/thread.php?threadId=34320

this made me realize something that i wasn't able to articulate before, which is that all you're doing is getting into this because it's hot. you're not genuinely a tech person, and i think law firms want a tech person. someone who picks EE as a major even though poly sci or history or lit are sooo much easier. going back to something because you are forced to is different than doing it of your own free will, and you are forced to go back cause you already took the patent bar. and they probably see a big difference between someone who picked engineering on their own and someone who went back to cross it off a checklist. in fact, if i was an IP partner at a firm and saw your resume, i would almost think you're trying to trick me. you're turning the requirements of patent law into a "technicality" (pun intended).

anyways, here is another post that shows that even real tech people cannot find patent jobs:

http://www.intelproplaw.com/ip_forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=um5svb2b5lvak9o3a5pjs3kfp2&topic=10773.0

so you really should give this up and just cut your losses. do some real research, be realistic, get offline, and just try to live a happy middle-class existence. there's nothing wrong with that, don't kill yourself trying to be something you're not. any response to either this post or my last ones?