Ryan & Ally Gerken
In one of our most recent blogs we talked about how I made a decision to leave my job, willingly. Granted my position was both drastically changed - I was far less interested, but I was also at odds with the company I worked for. Something wasn’t adding up for me… and I held much of this back when this all happened. However, through the MANY MANY books I have sense drowned myself in, I have come to realize that half stories will get me nowhere in this journey. I believe now, that there is not a version of us (Gerken’s Organics or myself), our decisions, and our journeys that we can doctor-up and still expect to be successful in telling our story and inspiring others to do the same.
Funny, I have been taught by so many professionals to never burn a bridge. It is a necessary lesson I think especially for younger adults entering the workforce, but I also see this slogan as a bit of a silencer. Much like all traumatic experiences - historically, society has asked us to bear the weight internally and not confront the issue, just deal with it. I have discovered that this does and will never serve me. And completing this story is important to do, so that I can openly speak about how we have found ourselves in the situation we are in, and then begin to share how we will persevere forward :).
Like I willingly admit, I LEFT MY JOB, BUT I did so because something was not aligning with me. Upon the pandemic we were issued a letter from corporate basically stating that no one would be allowed to work from home. We are all essential and so on and so forth. We grow and learn and rest assured eventually we did go as remote as possible but the undertone in that letter felt wrong to me.
Soon after, the major restrictions hit and our company was planning a 200+ in person training. That morning the news broke that gatherings of 50 or more were banned. I asked if I had to go, because someone who was working front lines in Denver Colorado in a significant capacity basically told me I am absolutely not allowed to attend this event, and it was the stupidest thing ANYONE could do! But remember I was in senior care, so it really was the most RISKY dangerous thing a company could do.
Our company was very lucky that we did not have an outbreak as a result of this gathering. I made a call prior to try and prevent this meeting, and was unsuccessful, it was too late. Little did I know the message I left on an answering machine made it all the way to the top. I did not attend the meeting, I did however get a call from Health Care Policy and Financing at the state level that afternoon, again after the meeting. She asked me to walk her through everything, and I was a little taken back because I knew who she was and she was basically the toppest you could get with our program.
She assured me I did the right thing by simply asking on a voicemail if this meeting should be happening. The way I had played it out in my head is I would call the health department they would say no that the meeting shouldn’t happen and then they would call my company and the meeting would go virtual or broken out into meetings of 50 or less. That is LITERALLY how simple I thought it would be.
Then the HCPF call … ugh! She gave me her number and told me to call her if anything was said to me or happened to me as a result of this. Which something did happen but I never called her. Upon walking into work the following day, I was belittled and degraded for about 8 minutes straight. AND the worst part was, I cared about the person saying this to me - which is dangerous.
Dangerous because I absorbed the words and took them on as truth but I so clearly see now none of this is true. It took me several months and several books to overcome this rut that I found myself in. I stopped writing and therefore stopped blogging because I knew the righteous and convicted comments mocking me came from my baring of beliefs within my weekly blog.
The words came home with me, something I taught myself not to do when I began working in sales in downtown Denver - it's not personal. BUT this was very personal. I thought I could overcome it and heal but truthfully I knew then I would at some point need to find a new job.
I became extremely nervous about losing my job, though I was assured that can’t happen. I was scared to face my co-workers because rumors spread like wildfire and several people told me they knew "what happened and by who". But I faced them - I continued to do my job and do it as best as I could as professionally as I could. I was being brave but I didn’t know it nor would I let myself know it because I was too busy telling myself how horrible a person I was for how things transpired. It took me a long long time to see the below as my truth.
“A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” Brene Brown
Many other things would happen prior to my leaving the company, job duties were increased, healthcare workers were cut after 20 plus years of service with an electronic signature, and no one I know of received a pay increase with their increased duties. I understand now why my former-former Executive Director requested every time an employee of our company donate - even if it was only five dollars, she was putting her live signature and a thank you note on their tax receipt - people matter! Well, people stopped mattering at my company and it was so obvious I couldn't continue to bear witness to it.
So I jumped at the opportunity to leave.
When I left I had not taken a single day of PTO in an entire year except my personal day at the end due to it not equating to money that I could put aside to weather the pandemic for my family. I didn’t even have enough PTO to take a two week holiday with my family. That is how little we have come to value people in our society, I was working for a company that doesn’t value its people. It was validating to me that I was making the right choice but also overwhelmed me because I like to take on the world's problems and I felt HOW THE HELL DO WE/I MAKE PEOPLE MATTER OVER MONEY - like instantly?????
But I know you can’t change others, it is a waste of time trying, change comes through action and your actions can change and influence others. I promised myself 1. as a business owner, care about your employees value their lives and their families lives 2. teach my kids to value other's lives - regardless. And for anyone reading this, especially teachers, healthcare workers, and women, next time you negotiate your salary take a few minutes to sit down and figure out what it costs for you to live and live decently in your community and then ask for pay that matches. I know it won’t happen overnight but I also know there are people who still work for the company I left that would likely begin to question the system - potentially even advocate for change - if we COLLECTIVELY begin to approach inequities in a more structured way.
So now you know a lot about why the blog fell silent, now I can continue to share our pandemic journey with Gerken’s Organics because financial issues will arise, and I bore a heavy burden at times over these past six months for putting my family financially at-risk for standing up for something I believed in.
Until next week,
Be Kind. Be Positive.