I have decided to crawl out from under my rock and write again, after several weeks which tried my sanity like never before. I knew the process of making major changes in my professional life would be challenging, but I had no idea that so many other obstacles would be thrown my way at the same time. It's a good thing I'm still nursing, because the events of the past few weeks might have driven me to drink!
Crisis #1: The Property Management Company From Hell
Since moving to Phoenix in 2006, we have been renting a comfortable 3 bedroom house in a relatively quiet part of town. We love our neighbors, and are grateful we did not buy a home upon moving here, as property values in this area have plummeted in the past two years. The house's owner moved to Washington, and left the handling of the rental in the hands of a property management company who soon proved incompetent. She transferred her business to another property management company, who eventually tried robbing her blind (eg., they once tried charging her $400 for a repair to the sprinkler system that Kevin was able to fix in lass than 5 minutes and with no new parts or tools necessary!). The owner finally asked if we would be willing to deal directly with her, as by this time we had proven ourselves to be good tenants and she felt comfortable working with us. We were thrilled!
We were notified by the owner in late March that, effective April 30th, we would no longer deal with the property management company and were to begin paying rent directly to the owner on May first and thereafter.
On May 8th (my birthday!!!) we came home to a certified letter from the property management company, notifying us we were delinquent with May's rent, and giving us 5 days to pay or move out. It took two days of frantic phone calls between us, the owner, and the property management company to fix this mistake. The most we got from the property management company was a wimpy two-sentence email that was the equivalent of "Oops, our bad, so sorry." They refused to put anything in writing accepting responsibility for their error and absolving us of any wrongdoing, but they did promise verbally that the matter was resolved and we wouldn't be bothered again...
On May 21st (Kevin's birthday!!!) we came home from dinner to find a COURT SUMMONS on our door. Yes, the property management company was still messing with us. It has now been a week of battling with the property management company to get this matter resolved. The case was dropped, but will forever appear in public record. We have spent the last week trying to get them to just write us a letter, on their company letterhead, for our records...something that will explain their series of errors and absolve us of any wrongdoing. you'd think we were asking them to sacrifice their firstborn sons or something, the way they've refused to oblige us! Well, after threats of serious legal action against them by the owners of our house, and a formal complaint to the BBB filed by us, we FINALLY got a phone call from the owners of the property management company. They apologized, and promised the letter we requested. We'll see if it comes through...
Crisis #2: The Payroll Department From Hell
I have been painfully unhappy teaching in Arizona. Part of this lies in the fact that the district that hired me ranks pretty low on the scale of humanity, sensitivity, and basic decency when it comes to how they treat their teachers. I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the fact that, when they messed up my compensation this year, I didn't even get an apology.
As a teacher, I obviously had 2 months during the summer where I was unemployed. I had the option each year of receiving my salary only during the school year (which I did in CA, and had a percentage each month deposited into a summer savings account with my credit union), or distributed throughout the entire year, including a lump-sum payout of the balance to "tide me over" during the unpaid summer months. Since I knew at the beginning of the school year that this would probably be my last year teaching, I did not want to find myself high-and-dry once summer arrived. I also did not want to feel pressure if I did not have a new job lined up and ready to go the day after school ended. I specifically and thoughtfully signed up for the "26 pays" option on my salary for the 2007-2008 year.
My paychecks this year were almost identical to what I received last year (also a 26 pay year). Literally, the difference was about $20 a paycheck. I never even blinked...other than the obvious chagrin at not receiving even a cost of living increase, but that's another story. I assumed my employer was doing their job correctly, and trusted my pay was being disbursed correctly.
On May 23rd we received our final paychecks by direct deposit. I expected to check my bank balance and see a deposit equivalent to 5 paychecks. Imagine my shock when I saw an amount equal to ONE.
I had anticipated having enough cash on hand to enjoy a little breathing room, perhaps a few weeks of less stress, and the ability to find a job that works for me and for my whole family. I thought if I could find a good job I could start in late June or July, I'd be ahead of the game with extra cash we could put toward some debt or into savings. Instead, I am losing more hair (seriously, it's falling out even worse now!) and more sleep because of their error.
When I called the payroll department to find out what happened, I was informed "the computer" had mistakenly put me in for 22 pays instead of 26 and nobody caught it. I suppose the blame is partly mine, since I did not sit down and analyze my paycheck line by line every two weeks. I figured the payroll people were doing their job, just like I am expected to do mine.
Well, they have paid me what they owed me, but not according to the timeline I had counted on. There's nothing for me to do except scramble furiously to find something, anything, to bring in money NOW. I am actually considering hitting the local convenience stores at this point. As I illustrated in my last post, I am not having much luck...