I quit my writing job!

I was passed over for editor so I walked. Now at 57, I'm scared and have no income

Published September 25, 2012 12:00AM (EDT)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (Zach Trenholm/Salon)
(Zach Trenholm/Salon)

Dear Cary,

I recently quit my job as a staff writer for a weekly newspaper. I had applied for the editor’s position, since our current editor was leaving for (much) more lucrative work outside the confines of journalism. I felt qualified for the job and had established an excellent working relationship in the community with many people. I had worked as a staff writer for almost two years at the time and felt confident that I was prepared to take on the editor’s position.

My reason for leaving my position was the fact that the publisher, who was rarely in our office, basically ignored my application for almost a month, then put me into the editor’s position as "fill-in" (his words) and offered me no pay raise, no title and no support. Rather, he denigrated me at every turn. I received approximately 20 minutes of training for the editor’s position. Even though I had worked in the publishing field for almost 15 years, my publisher told me that the "fill-in" position would afford me "valuable experience" -- apparently the 11 years I had been employed in various departments by this company hadn’t given me enough "experience" to get a promotion or a raise (by the way, my rate of pay was, from start to finish, $7.50 per hour).

I walked off the job -- something I have never done before.

I applied for unemployment and was denied! I am now in the process of an appeal. The crux of my problem is this: I feel so discouraged and depressed I can barely get myself to function. I now have no income, and loads of free time. I need to get pointed somehow in some new direction. I am 57 years old and have worked most of my adult life in one job or another. I’m so tired of working for nothing, tired of doing good work for nothing, and tired of being treated like nothing. I tell myself to rise above the pettiness but at present find myself mired in apathy. I just can’t motivate myself. I hate feeling like this. Any suggestions?

Over the Hill and Unemployed

Dear Over the Hill,

Good for you for walking off the job! That's showing them they can't treat you that way!

Now go apologize and ask for your job back.




Because you have put yourself in a terrible spot. Will they take you back? I sure hope so. It's worth a try. Go to the publisher and say your pride was hurt, you lost your temper and you realize it would be best for everyone if you came back.

There is a smart way to quit. The smart way to quit is to use your considerable status as a professional journalist while you are still a professional journalist to find a new job. That's what your editor did. Why? Because your editor was smart! And how did your editor keep the job long enough to find a new one? By keeping the publisher happy.

Your absence is making the publisher unhappy because he misses the way it used to be back in the dim reaches of last week when he didn't have this problem of somebody not being there which he sort-of has to think about. Plus he vaguely knows that someone is mad at him and doesn't like having people be mad at him. So do him and yourself a favor. Apologize. Offer to come back to the job.

You may think your situation is hopeless because this publisher is clueless and uninvolved but his cluelessness may actually work in your favor. When he put you temporarily in the editor's job, he was just solving a problem that was in front of him. He didn't know how infuriating it would be. So there is a real chance he may hire you back. Hiring you back will be easier than finding someone new.

Then use your contacts to look for a new job.  Your most important current contact is your former editor. Start there. Then talk to all your community contacts. Keep your job until you find a new one or they fire you and you can collect unemployment.

By Cary Tennis

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