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Yes, catfeeder actually suggested doing this in a thread that I started specifically about this job. And actually, I forgot to do it this time. I was just too fed up.

But part of me also has no hope that it would improve things. They just aren't accountable. I had a big argument with the owner a couple weeks ago, about something that he keeps blaming me for, which was really his fault.*

You should have seen the mental contortions he went through to absolve himself of responsibility. And why??? It's not like he has a boss who would come down on him. He's the frickin owner!!

If I owned that company--any company--I would want to know what went wrong, how it went wrong, and what could be done to prevent that sort of thing from happening in the future. But this guy is not like that. 

So that leaves me to ask, what is he in this for? And do I want to support someone like him?

The answer is no. So now I have to work on getting out. 

---------------------------------

*Impolitic, I know. I wish that I could shut up sometimes. 

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Me too. I put up with crap that I shouldn't put up with. It just makes me work harder, which is not the solution. I think that I need to learn to stay the course. Meaning (in my case) not try to work

Wow! Thankful you didn’t take the bait. 

Ah, this phrase.... it brings back a memory that still cracks me up to this day. When I was in my late 20s, my ex boyfriend and I were interested in paintball. Our interest started while we were

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Jib, have you checked the financial statements of the company? Are you sure the company is profitable, or at the very least, is making enough to cover the expenses? 

You cannot run a company with this attitude. It's not going to work. Period. Maybe you can get away delivering poor quality jobs a couple of times but sooner or later your (bad) reputation will precede you. 

You are there for the paycheck, not to rectify your boss's attitude which will never happen anyway. Nonetheless, since you can't operate with the "why should I care as long as I am getting paid" mindset and it affects your mental health, then yes leave as soon as possible. Hopefully though you won't rush to find any job without doing a good screening first. You don't want to end up at a similar company. Yes I know easier said than done.....

You will find a suitable job for your skills and talents, I am certain about it 🙂 

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It's a private company, so they don't have to disclose their financial statements. And it's not typical to ask for them. As long as my paychecks clear, I am ok lol.

I think this company was profitable as a mom-and-pop business. Now they're using a big windfall to expand into an industry in which they have little expertise. I think they're getting in over their heads a bit. They rely a lot on Alan, but Alan is a bit of a bullsht artist.

It's always a risk with companies like this, and in this industry especially. This business is very cyclical, and closely tied to the economy. When the economy takes a dump, the entire building industry is next in line to take a dump. When the economy spikes, they do mass hirings to staff all of the new projects.

I think that's why quality tends to be so inconsistent. It's a lot of feast-or-famine behavior.

1 hour ago, dias said:

Hopefully though you won't rush to find any job without doing a good screening first. You don't want to end up at a similar company. Yes I know easier said than done.....

Yes, it's very, very hard not to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire! 

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Ugh. Back to work today. Not looking forward to it.

Well, I actually worked yesterday and the day before. But I didn't have to interact with anyone, I didn't check my emails, and I took lengthy breaks. So, it was kind of nice. I enjoy this work when I'm not constantly smashing my head against a brick wall.

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Before I go to work, I figure I'll procrastinate by writing a little more background about it. 

I guess I'll start with Simon. When he first contacted me last May, I learned that we share some mutual acquaintances. Former employers of mine, from 2013 - 2018. They are in the same industry.

During 2013 - 2018, I worked for a large engineering company. Our clients were generally federal agencies, the projects had a regional scope, and the contract amounts were significant. I loved my bosses. They were masterful managers. Brilliant scientists and engineers. The department ran like a well-oiled machine. They made it look effortless.

One thing that I found interesting about the three guys who ran the department at my old company was the fact that each one of them coached a sport. One coached football, one coached soccer, and one (my former boss, Matt) coached lacrosse. I think their coaching experience helped to make them such good leaders. 

When I found out that Simon knew my former bosses, I contacted Matt to get a reference. I also asked him if he knew Simon. He did. However, it stood out to me that Matt did not provide an endorsement for Simon. He didn't say, "He's a good guy," or "he ran this project and it went well," or "we've partnered with him on xyz project."

The only thing that Matt said was that Simon used to work for a company that tried to hire him (Matt). He said that Simon ran a group there, did "other stuff," and that he was always involved with "lots of survey." It struck me as a circumspect statement, almost like Matt didn't want to be responsible for encouraging me to take the job.

I also knew from Simon that he (Simon) was let go from that company about 8 years ago, which is how he ended up going into business for himself. So, I did have trepidation accepting the job offer. But I had no specific reason not to take it. I needed a job, so I had to be optimistic. 

And obviously, there were a lot of problems with this company from day 1, which I've written about. 

But something clicked home for me in the last two months, which I hadn't considered. It clicked when the new structural engineer called me in one of his panics over the sorry state of things at our place of employment. He said, "Simon is not a good engineer." And ding! ding! ding! a bell went off in my head. That's why my boss was so careful with his statement. Yes, Simon is actually a bad engineer. I can tell in so many ways, when I look back over the projects that he's been involved with.

He knows his regulations. He'll tell you immediately how many parking spots you can have, and stuff like that. But when it comes to actual design, he's dead in the water. Dead.

Problem is, he doesn't seem to know that he sucks. 

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To continue on with my work synopsis...

Kasey is an interesting one. She's an interior decorator who is currently going to architecture school. At some point, she worked for an architect. But she doesn't have a ton of experience. I actually really like her sense of design, and she does great layouts.... but she overlooks a lot, and I get stuck correcting it.

On my first day of work, I remarked on how unusual it was for an interior decorator to be involved in a company that mostly does site planning and water resources stuff. She told me that she used to work at the same company that Simon worked for--she did the marketing there! They left around the same time.

Honestly, that made things even stranger. So, somewhere during the last 8 years, she went from marketing, to interior design, to architecture. And she co-owns an engineering company.... it's very strange.

Their whole arrangement is strange. Nobody knows if Kasey and Simon are just business partners, or if they're a couple. Simon is married. But he and Kasey literally go everywhere together. When they're not in the office, they're at each other's houses. 

 

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On 2/14/2021 at 2:54 PM, Jibralta said:

On Thursday, after two weeks of me asking him multiple times to take a look at the structure of this project, four hours before the project deadline, Alan finally got back to me.

He changed everything.

So, we have this meeting to go over the changes, and when I point out that one of his beams cuts through the opening for the staircase, Alex and Simon decide that the staircase should be moved.

Fine.

I logged off and took my mental health days. I cleansed my mind and managed to forget everything for a couple of days.

But I just moved the staircase, and guess what? I remember why I checked out on Thursday. It's all coming back. We now have no room for the HVAC unit because we need that space for headroom (for the new staircase location).

Idiots. 

I'm so glad that I posted this the other day, because guess what happened? The client refuses to approve the new staircase location. 

30 minutes before the end of the day yesterday, Kasey sent me an email instructing me to fit the staircases back where they were, but in another configuration. 

My heart started pounding in my chest--This is where I want to crawl out of my skin! They don't understand that they live on Planet Earth, and that we work with physical reality on this planet. They DON'T UNDERSTAND!! You need headroom for a staircase so that people don't bash their brains in when they go upstairs and downstairs. The headroom has to come from somewhere. That means you can't have a shower on the second floor any more. Or your HVAC closet goes away.

"Just move the staircase," said the arrogant asshles. 

UGHHH!

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I just feel such overwhelming stress the minute I log in and read my emails. So much stupidity. Alan miscalculated a staircase solution and Kasey insists that I follow it.

Alan's at a point in his career where people don't question what he says. They don't want to think.

I'm emailing back and forth with them right now, trying to explain the situation with illustrations and calculations. I know that it's going to end in some chastisement that there's "too many emails flying around" and people need to pick up the phone. That's their go-to for everything. 

Last night, I think I figured out why Simon is so bent on me being wrong over that stupid cost estimate from December. If I'm not the one who's wrong, then it would have to be Alan. And it was Alan who was wrong, by the way. He provided astronomical, inaccurate numbers. But Simon can't afford to believe that Alan is full of sht because he just paid Alan a significant amount of money for Alan's company, and for Alan's guidance. The last thing Simon wants to believe is that Alan is a bit of a shyster.

I didn't think I could get through the stress of last week. But I made it. This week, the stress is as intense as ever, but it feels encapsulated somehow. Maybe I'm healing around the fester. Ew.

The moment I turn on my computer in the morning, I go to another place. I can't respond to my boyfriend normally. Everyday questions seem like an enormous burden. 

I just really hate the idea of being involved on a failing project. I hate that what Alan says trumps what I say, even when he is totally wrong and half-assing everything. 

I really need to just let go. Who cares about these people? They don't care about me. They are totally self-serving.

 

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Morning meeting just ended. Wasn't so bad. I put on a smile, exchanged niceties with Alan. We discussed some of the changes. Everybody was pleasant. I still want to smash my head against the wall, but I feel a little better about things. 

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4 hours ago, Jibralta said:

Alan miscalculated a staircase solution and Kasey insists that I follow it.

Alan's at a point in his career where people don't question what he says. They don't want to think.

I'm emailing back and forth with them right now, trying to explain the situation with illustrations and calculations. I know that it's going to end in some chastisement that there's "too many emails flying around" and people need to pick up the phone. That's their go-to for everything.

Ugh that just sounds so frustrating.  Hilarious about your attitude though, I think that's a nice way to handle it... humor and distancing yourself.

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7 hours ago, Jibralta said:

My heart started pounding in my chest--This is where I want to crawl out of my skin! They don't understand that they live on Planet Earth, and that we work with physical reality on this planet. They DON'T UNDERSTAND!! You need headroom for a staircase so that people don't bash their brains in when they go upstairs and downstairs. The headroom has to come from somewhere. That means you can't have a shower on the second floor any more. Or your HVAC closet goes away.

"Just move the staircase," said the arrogant asshles.

It will come back to bite them in the butt.  Just try to manage until you can get outta there!

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2 minutes ago, maritalbliss86 said:

Hilarious about your attitude though, I think that's a nice way to handle it... humor and distancing yourself.

A smile goes a long way!!

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I got a heap of redlines for the project yesterday. More than a day's worth. I still have some left over this morning. Last night, I decided to stop worrying about it.... and I did!

This morning, I am half worried, half not-worried. I'm flip-flopping between the two. Which is actually slightly worrisome lol. 

I'm not worried because my level of concern is diminishing. I'm more resigned to just doing what they say, and not questioning it. Why should I care if it's wrong?

Part of me says, "Because they're going to blame you when the sht hits the fan." And I don't want that.

The other part says, "What else is new? They've shown zero personal accountability literally from Day One. Who cares if they blame you? They blame everybody."

It makes me feel good to draw firm boundaries. To not be available for every email or phone call after hours. To stop working at the end of the day, whether the job is done or not. It's not my fault if they budgeted wrong or underestimated the time it would take to complete a task. Why should I make myself crazy trying to right their wrongs?

I've had some slight anxiety about resigning, mainly concerning Simon's weird loyalist mentality. I have this suspicion that he will take it as a personal attack.

I mean, the guy says weird things. Like during this year's kick-off meeting, he mentioned that outside people are saying unflattering things about our company, but that they are "just jealous" of the company's success.

I thought that smacked of wishful thinking. And knowing him the way that I do now, I see that it's just another way that he avoids addressing problems. 

Then, on Monday, he emailed the whole company to announce that they had purchased the building that they had been renting. As he closed the email, he said, "And thanks to all for being a COMPANYNAME loyals."

It just reinforced my impression of his cult-like mentality. 

But obviously, I'm going to do what I have to do.

Edited by Jibralta
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The company must have quite formidable salesmen if it keeps growing whilst delivering poor quality services and products. Can't explain it otherwise.

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2 hours ago, dias said:

The company must have quite formidable salesmen if it keeps growing whilst delivering poor quality services and products. Can't explain it otherwise.

Simon and Kasey are the salesmen. It's part of the reason why they are never around.

I actually get that and sympathize (to an extent) with the fact that they've gotten themselves stuck in a bit of a catch-22. 

Believe it or not, while everyone complains about how the business is run, just about everyone has said to me, "I'm only here because I like Simon so much."

I was one of those people, too! Every time I remember Simon shouting me down the other week, I simultaneously remember one particular moment from last summer, when my coworker Ron and I were btching to each other about how ridiculous things were with this company. He said to me, "But I really like Simon." And I was like, "Me too!" and we both sort of shrugged, like we were helpless.

It was the same with Marshal, one of the guys that left over the summer. He was terribly frustrated with this company, and told me, "The only reason I'm working here is because I like Simon." However, that sentiment soured by the end of the summer, when Marshal apparently caught a little of Simon's ugly side.

Marshall was a crew chief, and felt it was his responsibility to make sure things ran smoothly. He met with Simon and Kasey several times to discuss the problems we were all encountering in the field. His efforts fell on deaf ears.

After their second meeting, Marshal just about reached the end of his rope. He told me, "Simon tried to get loud with me in front of my son." The next Friday, he and Simon really got into it, and Marshal received an email from Karen that Sunday informing him that he'd been let go.

To be honest, I initially dismissed Marshal's account of the conflict as the bravado of a hotheaded 25-year old. But after my recent experience with Simon, I see that Marshal probably wasn't exaggerating. My recent experience has also given me some more insight into how and why problems don't get resolved here.

ANYWAY. The point of all this rambling is to say that Simon is a very good salesman. He has a real knack for charming people and winning them over. 

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5 hours ago, dias said:

whilst delivering poor quality services and products

I also think that they haven't delivered many architectural products at this point. I don't think any of their arch jobs have gone to construction yet--at least not large jobs that require coordination. When they do start constructing, there will probably be a lot of unpleasant surprises.

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24 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

I also think that they haven't delivered many architectural products at this point. I don't think any of their arch jobs have gone to construction yet--at least not large jobs that require coordination. When they do start constructing, there will probably be a lot of unpleasant surprises.

What services does your company provide? Surveying and architectural drawings for commercial buildings? To whom you provide these services/products? To construction companies? 

If this is the case, it will take a long time before the client realizes that he was provided poor quality services/products. This guy, Simon, can actually get away with poor work as there are no immediate repercussions. Plus, the more companies involved in the process the easier it is to blame someone else....

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Clients very. Some times they are developers, sometimes they are government, sometimes they are private individuals. In one case, it is a construction company, so we'll see how that goes. One of the construction guys is friendly with our Civil engineer, and Simon values this guy's input. 

The company says it provides (in addition to surveying) engineering and architectural services. They do have a Civil engineer on staff.

But until this year, they contracted out their structural, MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing), and architectural work. The Civil guy that they have can do plumbing and some HVAC (mechanical), but not electrical. And his knowledge is limited because he's really a Civil guy.

They recently hired a structural engineer (Hassan), and while he's great to work with, he's very junior. And he knows it; he was sold the same bill as I was: mentorship. But he came here (like me) only to find that the guidance is totally lacking. 

Hassan is in a worse position than I am, in that regard. Simon is winning contracts for things like bridges and dams, saying that he has staff that can do that kind of work. That's a gross misrepresentation of the firm's capabilities, of Hassan's capabilities, and it drives Hassan to near-panic sometimes. 

Hassan is in a better position than I am in terms of his relationship with Simon. He is some sort of family friend, so he is mobbed in. 

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50 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

Simon is winning contracts for things like bridges and dams, saying that he has staff that can do that kind of work.

Ok he is a great hustler for sure. Although peddling is the most important aspect of a business, it is not enough. You also need to provide the best quality services/products you can AND excellent customer service which in this case means collaborating with the clients efficiently and fixing any mistakes/aberrations asap without charging him. 

This behavior is very common in sales people as they are very money-driven. I know he is an engineer by profession but it seems he is a hustler by nature. 

 

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1 hour ago, dias said:

Although peddling is the most important aspect of a business, it is not enough. You also need to provide the best quality services/products you can AND excellent customer service which in this case means collaborating with the clients efficiently and fixing any mistakes/aberrations asap without charging him.

Yes, they are building a house of cards. They are betting that it won't fall before they have a solid foundation in place.

1 hour ago, dias said:

I know he is an engineer by profession but it seems he is a hustler by nature. 

Correct. He went to engineering school and got his PE, but he isn't an engineer by nature. I've seen this sort of thing before. Engineering companies often employ people like this to bring in business. But usually those companies have leaders with solid technical expertise at the helm.

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You know what just occurred to me about Simon? He lived in a war zone for at least part of his life, in Armenia. I wonder if his strange mentality is a side effect of spending part of his youth in that environment.

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8 hours ago, Seraphim said:

 

4 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

Ah, that was such a calming video.

Well, I wanted it to be calming....

When I got to 1:52, where she was painting the flowers, I started thinking about the painting class I took last year.

Then, at minute 3:00, I started to think, "Why am I not doing this? When am I going to start doing this? How can I start doing this? Should I quit my job and buy a country house? How long can I make it like that? Will my boyfriend need to work, or can we just take a year off? A year off would be nice."

And throughout this internal dialog, were the thoughts about the painting class that I took--more like images in my mind. I was really good at it for absolutely no reason, and it actually scares me a little. I made a red apple look realistic with blue paint!! Nobody taught me to do that. I don't know where it came from or if it will come back again. I think back on it and wonder, w t f?

Maybe that magic can fade. Or maybe I can kill the magic somehow. Maybe it's gone already and I'll be stuck in my little country cottage for a year with some useless paint supplies 😅.  

Ok, this is going in my journal. lol.

  

 

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Hmmmmm, how do I feel about work today....

Ambivalent? 

I submitted the set to Alan last night for final review. Kasey wants it printed, signed, and sealed today. She wanted it done last week. She wanted it done the week before. She wanted it done three weeks ago. It's been an emergency for a month. Yet she keeps letting the client change things. Kasey's rationale is, "They're just interior changes." Yeah, Kasey, but they still require thought. And time I spend making those changes is time that I don't spend on everything else! It's really annoying. 

I'm worried about the structure. I don't think Alan knows what he's doing. He shouldn't pretend that he does. So many potential problems.... but the one that's on my mind is that he completely eliminated the retaining wall by reducing the size of the footing at that side. Another thing: He had me fudge the dimensions for the cast-in-place foundation wall.... You know, someone is going to build a form based on those dimensions! It's going to be too big. They're going to order A LOT more concrete than they need..... Ugh.

I think I'll try to sneak in the correct dimensions before I submit the final set. I don't know what to do about the retaining wall, though. That's a real problem. Maybe I'll just sneak in that super-wide footing anyway.... Or a note for the contractor to submit signed and sealed calculations for a retaining wall at that side. That'll be less obvious than a gigantic rectangular footing on the drawing. And hopefully I'll be long gone before they get RFIs or submittals for it!!! Tee-hee!!

But other than that, I feel pretty indifferent to the pressure. Let it bounce off of me. I need my peace of mind.

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6 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

But other than that, I feel pretty indifferent to the pressure.

Oh, who am I kidding. I already feel my heart pounding in my chest.

 

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It just occurred to me that I'm not the only person in the world who has to contend with horrible bosses.

I mean, yeah, I knew that in theory. From the responses on my "Tips" thread, it's obvious that other people have experienced it. There's even a movie called "Horrible Bosses" which people watch just because of the title--It's a very relatable thing because it's very common. 

I guess what I'm realizing is that horrible bosses are not just endemic to the architecture industry. There sure are a lot of them there, but their existence is also quite prevalent throughout all industries.

I've been straight stalking LinkedIN because of Bill's potential job offer, and I've noticed that so much of the content in my feed is about work culture, leadership, appreciation, support, and the lack thereof. This is because people in my network are liking and following that stuff. What's happening to me is happening to other people, right now. They're just more outwardly expressive about it.

Posts that I used to dismiss as silly are now standing out to me. I now see the truth in them. For example, this statement, pasted over an image of a woman looking out over a rocky shoreline:

"There comes a time in life when you have to let go of all the pointless drama and the people who create it and surround yourself with people who make you laugh so hard that you forget to focus on the bad and focus solely on the good. After all, life is too short to be anything but happy."

I'd usually see something like this and roll my eyes--not even because of the incredible run-on sentence, but because it's just so dramatic. But right now, I'm seeing things like this and thinking, AMEN, sister (or brother)! Never let them drag you down!! Right on!!

It's pretty ridiculous. But I do know this about myself: I am much more empathetic towards other people when I am going through difficult times myself.

The other day, I searched on youtube "Tony Robbins horrible boss" and watched the video that came up. The comments on that video were so sad. "My job is killing me," "I go to work in tears," etc. I've been there; I know what that's like. It's a terrible feeling. And even though I feel sad for the people who are going through it, it's also comforting to know that I'm not going through it alone.

I think some of my distress comes from being attached to a story. The story goes something like this: Simon is the boss. Therefore, Simon makes good decisions and has effective leadership skills. 

That's the rule, right? Being the boss means that you are the all-around best?

Well, maybe that's how it should be, but that's not how it is. The story is holding me back. It's the same story that makes passive aggressive behavior so effective, and it's the same story that makes people stay in a relationships with manipulators: Things should be This Way, and they should not be This Other Way. I have to somehow disengage from that mentality because it's causing all sorts of havoc within me.

 

Edited by Jibralta
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