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Rapid Reeducation Prana

I have been less than happy for some time now, but just with work. This is a private post, mainly because I need to get it off my back. (For those who know me in person, I'd rather you not talk about it with the gaming group.)

As of the first of this month, I'm ten paychecks behind. It's been that way for about a year or so now and my boss, my own mother, hasn't really made any effort to actually solve this problem. She just hired another maintenance worker, for a total of two, and and continues to fall behind in paychecks. She is investing in a company, her own personal pet project, that will never make as much as her primary one, but since it is fun for her, she keeps on paying people in that company to basically do nothing. On top of that, she demands we spend the hours needed, but that we should keep moral up in the company.

When said that way, the most obvious question is: why the hell am I still here?

One is the pay. Yeah, she's ten paychecks behind, but for the last year or so, she's managed to keep at an even 8-10 paychecks behind. I can live with that. Actually, I have lived with it and that itself isn't the problem.

I think most of my discomfort is with her decisions. It's been pretty obvious that she is a dreamer, as am I, but where we differ is in how we do it. When I created my own company, WhichMall, we actually ran for over two years with a relatively positive account balance even with the effective crash of the DotCom's. In her case, her main company (CompanyX) made over $1.5M last year, but ~$600k went into this other company (CompanyY) which made a gross of about $50k. Now, it is a startup company, which never make money in two years, but I have so much trouble believing in CompanyY when I know CompanyX is capable of completely and utterly supporting its staff, getting out of debt, and making the government happy. However, it doesn't happen because my boss is, in my opinion, wasting all of our time and our paychecks on one of her dreams.

She also has expensed her own vacations to the company, paying $50-80k for a trip that 95% of the company doesn't go on, and we are still paying off. That is two rounds of payroll right there, but she didn't pay it because she "needed a vacation."

Now, I'm loyal. I am very loyal. I've been working for her for 22 years and I have loved almost every moment of it. I left in 2000 because she made me miss a mortgage payment (a big no-no with me). I may not show my love of family in a lot of ways, but I've gone through flame and oil for her and now... I lost faith in my mother, both in family and as my boss. How can I believe she has anyone's best interest in heart when she hired some guy for $30k a year because she needs two maintenance men to keep her house (not the business) in order. It makes her "more effective" according to her, but me and the accountant both feel that it is a waste of time.

A long time ago, it used to be an option that I would take over the company. I doubt that would happen, mainly because how do I take over a company that continues to go further back in pay, and my boss refuses to let me try to rein in her spending to get out of debt.

I can survive it. It's only going to be a year or so until I want to move to Iowa, as part of the Master Plan. Yes, it hurts to be almost in charge of a company that is basically raping its employees for her own personal enjoyment, mainly because I love working here. It lets me write and it lets me play games, but not at work since September because of project load. A few weeks back, on my vacation, I sat down and decided I would hang it out.

Then, last week, in a random conversion, someone mentioned a job in Chicago. It looks nearly perfect for me, so I applied. And I've felt guilty pretty much since. Yeah, its hell but I don't want to leave because it would hurt people. When I got a phone interview request, I felt even guiltier even as I scheduled a time. I planned out my lies if they want an in-person one, because telling the truth would burn a bridge immediately. Even as I did it, I've been haunting with this feeling of betrayal to CompanyX and my mother, and more importantly, and my co-workers who I love almost as much as family.

Fluffy, my anchor in life, has said I'm unhappy where I am. I think I know why, I may be not religious in the classical sense, I'm a Generic Pagan in life, but I do believe in a strong anchor of morals and ethics. This company I grew up with, over two decades of my life, is losing its respect for its employees and it hurts. Despite this, despite the logical discussion that I should leave, I don't want to. I don't want to hurt people and, some days, I just sit there going "I can wait it out." When she talks about major projects, getting good money in, I want to tell myself, "I'm just staying, it will be okay from now on" but I keep wondering what it would be like to work out there again.

Change is terrifying. This job I applied to, almost a lark, is C++ which is much different than I've programmed for five years. Yeah, they may turn me down, I'm not the perfect fit for it and I just spent two days teaching myself C++ again (it wasn't really that hard, I've been programming C++ derived languages for over a decade) and getting ready for the chance they want to see me. Even as I flip through the pages, I feel guilty. I don't like to lie, I don't like not telling her that I'm looking for another job, and I don't like the idea that I will have to face up to hurting my mother if I do find a new one.

I feel like there is no right answer. I mean, from my descriptions, it's obvious that I should move on, but I'm frightened of that again. Frightened of getting fired (again), frightened of learning new things, frightened of risking what is a comfortable discomfort for just the potential of stability that I might escape in a year's time (or more, though Fluffy and I have a contingency for that).

I'm at a crux of my life, a crossroads. Down one side, I can see for kilometers, the long deserts and blistering winds. I already know the camping spots and shelters. I know how much food I'll need, which steps to take, and what is at the end. The other path, I just see the edge of a road going into mist three meters above my head, going up into the mountains. It may widen up, it may even be paved just around the corner, but I have no clue what is there. I don't even know if the path exists around the next.

Which path do I take?

And why do I feel guilty about having to make this choice?