Periodic musings of a former corporate executive who is between gigs.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

COBRA is not a snake

Post-Vegas (where, yes, I did eventually give back all the money that I won), I returned home to multiple letters in the mail from my former employer. Unwinding an employment relationship is worse than getting a divorce. Letters about 401(k) plan rollovers, what to do with my life insurance, how to resolve other assorted things and three separate letters about my medical insurance.

Now here's a tip for the Obama Administration on healthcare reform--- one way to save money is to quit requiring employers to send all this medical insurance paperwork when someone leaves a job. Because, let's face it, in this economy people are leaving jobs left and right. We must have killed an entire forest just to send all these letters.

It's not Obama's fault. He inherited this mess. COBRA, the law that allows employees to continue their health insurance after leaving a company, has been around for ages. I like that they named it after a snake because so many people view their former employer as a predator that injected them with poison and made them bitter. It's a great reminder of that wonderful former relationship every time you see the word "COBRA" in your mailbox.

From a branding perspective, RATTLESNAKE might have been a better choice for the US market since cobras are not native to America. But it still works.

Anyway, today I have to sort out all of this mess which I anticipate will take more time than I'd like to devote to it. Like I said, my divorce was easier than this.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Vegas, Part Deux

I have THE PLAN! Today I won LOTS of money playing video poker. I know, I know.... it's unusual and it certainly hasn't happened to me often. But the Gaming Gods were with me today and I hit it big.

So it got me to thinking. Maybe I could forget about finding another job and just play poker for a living. You know, like those guys on the World Series of Poker. Wouldn't that be a way to really enjoy life? To spend all your "working" hours in Vegas drinking and playing cards?!? If you have to have a job, that's not a bad one to choose.

The only problem I see with this plan is that while I am great at video poker (well, when the Gaming Gods appear...), I have minimal experience playing real poker. As in I couldn't tell you the difference between Texas Hold 'Em or Omaha poker. (And, by the way, why are all the poker games named after Mid-Western states when all the gambling is in Las Vegas and Atlantic City? That doesn't seem right).

I wonder if there are Poker Trainers? You know, like Fitness Trainers except for Poker? And if there are, do they actually keep all the money that they win from you while teaching you? If so, that could be an expensive proposition.

Perhaps I should just buy a bunch of lottery tickets. Or play the MegaBucks slot machine, which I see is up to $16 million today.

Or maybe I should just enjoy the rest of the weekend and give up the fantasy of never having to work again. Yeah, that's probably the best option. Not too many people walk away from Vegas as a winner, even if they are winning big on a Saturday night!

Speaking of Vegas....

It is FINALLY time for some fun! THIS is the kind of unemployment I was hoping for. After two weeks of detoxing from the working life, dealing with Blackberries, managing doggie dentist trips and kicking off the job networking, I decided that it was time for something a bit more enjoyable. My husband had some work to do in Las Vegas so I decided to tag along.

Here's what I learned: when you are "tagging along", you aren't in charge. Now that's a hard pill for a former executive to swallow. After years of directing things, including lots of travel details, I learned that when it's someone else's trip you have to defer to their wishes.

So, no stopping off at the Coach outlet in Barstow because you've stopped there every prior trip and always found an incredible bag at an ungodly affordable price. No stopping at the Greek restaurant in Baker (home of the World's Tallest Thermometer, in case you were wondering) because you like the food. No detour to Death Valley because you've always wanted to see it. And no stopping at the other outlet mall in Primm, which has the best Williams-Sonoma store you've ever seen. No, you must go at the driver's pace. Which seems to be "petal to the metal" to get there in time for a 3:00 meeting. No fun in that!

The good news is that once you are physically in Vegas and hubby goes off to do his business-y things, you are back in charge. Well, in charge of yourself at least.

Yeah, I know being in charge of only yourself and for only a short period of time is kind of a downer if you previously ran a large function in a major company. But after feeling like the little kid on the family vacation on the way over, it's a major relief to know that you can decide whether to play slot machines or sit next to that crazy old lady at the Blackjack table. A decision is a decision and ex-executives will take anything they can get these days!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Job Networking

OK, so here's where it really gets tough. As any good executive knows, the best way to find a job (or a spouse, or a good deal on a car, etc.) is through Networking. Yes, that is Networking with a capital "N". Because it's reviled by most and not really enjoyed by those who don't absolutely hate it.

But, knowing that I needed to do it, I got myself out of bed today at the ungodly hour of 5:30 AM to go to a networking meeting. I live in Los Angeles and the meeting was in Irvine, CA. For those that don't reside in the Golden State, Irvine is about 40 miles from LA but it can take half the day to get there if the Traffic Gods don't smile upon you.

Left the house at 6:30 AM and barely made it there by 8:00 AM. No time to get a beverage from Starbucks so I was bleary-eyed as I introduced myself to 15 people I'd never met before, all of whom are looking for the exact same type of job that I want. So, technically they are "The Competition". But, as funny as this sounds, it was really enjoyable. So much so that I am actually going to keep attending this thing even though I haven't been awake at 5:30 AM since the last time I was in Vegas and stayed up all night.

And now I'm off to take a nap. Which is one of the AMAZING things about not being at an office in the middle of the day!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dog Chores

So today is when I realized that the unemployed person in the household has to do all the crummy stuff. Not that I am complaining (well, I kinda am, but not REALLY complaining. That would be unseemly.)

My wonderful husband, who works from home when he is not on the road, has been the one to deal with all of these things for years. The guy who comes to fix the garage door. The person who is coming to inspect the smoke alarm. The cleaning lady. The dog walker. Doing the laundry. I have been blissfully unaware of all the myriad of minutiae that goes on during a typical day.

I'm sad to say that is no longer the case. Today my hopes of unemployment being FUNemployment were dashed. Today I was informed that since I am "no longer working", I could take the dog to the doggie dentist. Yes, I can't believe it either, but our dog had to go to the dentist because she broke one of her canine teeth in half (very ugly thing, I might add).

I absolutely HATE to take the dog to the vet. It's like she knows where we're headed. I am convinced that she is giving me that pitiful look so I will turn the car around and head for McDonalds (she loves McDonalds cheeseburgers, but that is another story). But since I didn't have a ready excuse, the job was mine. Off we went at 7:00 AM. That's another thing. I'd had this notion in my mind that I would be sleeping late every day now that I don't have to get up and go to the office. Not so. Or at least not yet. Maybe it will happen one of these days.

It all turned out fine and the dog didn't even need a crown on the tooth. Which is a good thing because unemployed people should not be spending their diminishing assets on gold crowns for their dog's teeth. Even if it would be kind of cool to have a dog that looked like a rapper.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Do you know how to identify a recently-unemployed professional?

They're the one in line at Starbucks with their thumbs fidgeting like shadow puppets. See someone in the IT department took away their Blackberry and they don't know how to live without it.

It's a disease really. Oh my.... what will I do without that little black plastic thing that's been in my hands 18 hours a day for the past 5 years? What will I do while I'm sitting at a traffic light? What will I do while I'm waiting for the ATM? What will I do when I'm waiting for a meeting to start?

Well, the good news is that the last item won't be an issue for you in the near future since you're probably not going to be attending too many meetings for awhile. But you definitely have to get some connectivity and get it QUICKLY!

Why? Because it is impossible these days to leave your house, go to the dentist and come home without having checked your email and ten times. What if your husband were to email you to pick up the drycleaning? What if Lindsay Lohan were to have another meltdown? It's absolutely critical to get some type of Smartphone asap.

I was fortunate enough that my former employer gave me my Blackberry as a parting gift (well, it WAS an entertainment company that produced a lot of game shows so maybe they thought everyone should get a parting gift even if they weren't a show contestant). That's the good news. The bad news is that the IT department wiped all of my existing data from it. So I can text people but not really because I don't remember anyone's phone number or email address.

So tomorrow's project is to get someone to help me reload all of my contact information. Since I don't have an IT department anymore, I am going to have to be creative and figure out how to invent one (or at least find someone who appears to know about these things).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday, January 3rd

It's Monday. The first Monday of the year, to be precise. The day everyone dreads going back to work after all the holiday cheer.

Guess what? I don't have to go back to work today. But there's a catch (there always is, right?). I'm SICK! Yes, as sick as can be. Sore throat, fever, headache. The whole kit and kaboodle (I always wanted to write those words).

The good thing about being sick today is that I don't have to drag myself out of bed, go to work and pretend that I want to be there. The bad thing is that there are no sick days when you're not working! There's no one to call who will sympathetically say, "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear you're ill. Do you want me to bring you anything?" Or, "Gee, we really needed you for XXX meeting. How will we do it without you?"

My dear husband told me this morning that I shouldn't be complaining about not being able to call in sick. He says that when you've got a corporate severance package, EVERY day is a sick day. So, all in all, I guess it's fine. But it just seems WRONG to be sick on the first day when everyone else is going back to work. I thought I'd be able to brag that I was at the beach, at the movies, having a long liquid lunch or some other decadent adventure. Instead, I'm propped up in bed with 20 pillows (so I can breathe) with two dogs and two cats to keep me company.

Something tells me none of you will be the least bit envious of my life today!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

First Post!

It's a new year, so why not a new blog?

For those of you who have read my prior blogs (probably just my Dad), this is a new twist on the old formula. Those blogs were about traveling the globe for work. This one will be about NOT traveling the world and NOT working. Well, maybe there will be some travel. It just won't be for work.

Yep, that's right. As of December 31, 2010, I am free to do as I please every day. Well, at least until the money runs out. But I think that will be awhile and so I intend to make the absolute most of this time off. I'm sure there will be ups and downs along the way and I'll share them with you. I also hope there will be some laughs and you'll enjoy seeing what I'm doing (or NOT doing) on a regular basis.

My greatest wish is that readers who are not members of my family (ie, not obligated to read this) will find this blog and learn that losing one's job can actually be a big gift. A gift of time, a gift of enhancing relationships, a gift of making new friends and a gift of learning more about yourself. So, fasten your seatbelts. We're taking off!