Saturday, April 25, 2009


Last Thursday I went overtown to take the exam for Foundations of Gerontology and I passed it with a B. I'm fine with that grade, especially considering I never finished the actual course materials!  If I had I'm sure I would have recieved an A, but that's not important.  It was more important for me to hurry up and finish, so I'd have my schedule free and clear to start the training for a new job working for the U.S. Census.

I applied for the job in March, took a little test, got fingerprinted and completed the paperwork for a background check.  It cleared of course, and on April 7 a representative from the local field office of the US Census called and offered me a job, which I accepted.  I agreed to all the terms of the job without hesitation - pay rate, hours per week required, length of overall employment, etc. - and was given the dates that the training would run, along with the name of the training instructor who would be contacting me with more specific details of the time and location of the training sessions.  Over the next few weeks, as I hadn't heard from the instructor as expected, I made two follow-up calls to the person who originally offered me the position.  Both times I was assured that everything was on track, and that the delay in passing along the final details was just due to government agency approval processes, but that was expected any moment, and that everything was fine. Then on Friday, April 24, the last business day before the training was scheduled to begin,  I finally received a call from the instructor.

He informed me that the decision had been made to send over and utilize already trained census employees from the mainland, instead of hiring and training locals.  I was stunned. To put it mildly.  He made it clear that the decision had been made above him, and that he had been given the task of contacting those people affected by this decision.  I asked him if he understood that this was not a job offer in the negotiation process, but one that had been offered and accepted, and he said that yes, he was.  I also asked if he had considered the possibility of people turning down other jobs in favor of accepting the Census job, only to find that they no longer had that either, and he didn't have much to say in response.  I finally wound up saying that it didn't appear that there was anything further I could say or do, and he responded by suggesting that I "stay in the hiring pool". Oh reeeeeaaalllyyy???? To that, I informed him in no uncertain terms that were I to entertain any future job offers from the US Census, they would have to be made in writing, and certainly from someone higher up than the local district office, since that is where it seemed the decisions were being made. I ended the call calmly and professionally.

I spent the rest of Friday drifting in and out of a state of shock, relating the whole situation to friends and family, and because this town is so freaking small, occasionally running into some of the other locals who received the same call and exchanging our thoughts and feelings on this mess. After a day of venting, and a day to think it over to myself, I've come to a decision.

I've always believed you should choose your battles wisely, and be sure that something is worth fighting for before you take up arms.  There are times in life when it is just easier and cleaner to simply walk away, and no one should pass judgement on that choice.  I've been there myself. But this is not one of those times.

What the US Census did here, and plans to do here, is wrong. If from the start, they had refused to hire locals and insisted on bringing people over from the mainland, that would have raised eyebrows and more than just a few questions. In this economy - you think that would get any town to roll out the welcome mat? Yeah, not so much.  But to go through a charade of hiring a group of locals, string them along for a few weeks, and then rescind the job offer at the last minute? That raises a different set of questions. And when you starting questioning the ethics of an organization's actions in one set of circumstances, you open the door to doubting their ability to act ethically in other situations.

When an individual does something wrong, there are consequences. When a government agency does something wrong, that's news. And as since I will not be starting a new job on Monday, I seem to find myself with free time. And a telephone. And an internet connection. 

Simply put - we got burned. And now something inside of me is burning.


Mia said...

Oh honey, that SUCKS! You were so much looking forward to it! And the extra cash it would bring!

I hope you find some way to revenge this situation... like you said.. they already offered you the job and you accepted!!!!!!

I'd be curious to know what the others in the same situation think and/or plan to do.


AmyPinSeattle said...

I am glad you are willing to do something!

It does seam awfully suspicious and shady.

Looking forward to your updates! Amy

Logan said...

DAMN. That's harsh. Knock 'em out.

Didi B said...

I am stunned, I'm so sorry this happened! It's ridiculous. Part of me wants to say that you're better off, but the paycheck and the tasks make me feel conflicted. :(

Sheepish Annie said...

That is insane! It always blows me away that agencies think they can get away with that sort of thing. And to wait until the last minute like that? Wrong on so many levels!!

Go get 'em. They deserve it.

Anonymous said...

That's just not right. Have you contacted your, oh shoot my Canadian is showing, congressman/elected official? You fight girl.

Pat said...

Go for it. Chances are it will embarrass the bejeezus out of whoever made the decision when it becomes public.

Carolyn (Harbor Hon) said...

Hey Girl! Just coming back from my bout with pneumonia. Can't believe they did this to you! Of all the nerve, and they didn't even pay you for your time interviewing and background checks and such. I'm so trying hard not to say the 'B' word. Keep on keeping on, my friend. xxoo