Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fool me once…

  In May, I wrote about how I spent $31 to nominate my blog for the Chess Journalists of America Awards despite having my submission last year voted the worst entry ever. The deadline on the entry form I received was June 15th so I sent in my nomination form the first week in June. I never heard from the chairman of the awards committee, who was supposed to acknowledge my entry, so I emailed a reminder and a week later I received an acknowledgement email. On the 16th, I looked on the CJA website to see which entries had been received since the nomination form said that they'd be posted when entries were closed. No entries were posted. Then on the 20th, I received an email from Mark Capron. Mark is the editor of the Iowa State Chess Association magazine ‘En Passant’. Matt had written the story of his 5th place finish at the National High School championships for that magazine last year and Capron wanted to know if I had submitted it for a CJA award, because if I hadn’t he would submit it on behalf of the magazine. I hadn’t submitted it but I was confused since I thought the entries were closed for a week. I took another look on the website and lo and behold, the deadline had been extended to July 6th.

  There was no mention of the extension on the web page, just a link to Alexandra Kosteniuk’s June 16th chess blog posting announcing the CJA awards and the July 6th deadline as if there was no previous deadline. Kosteniuk mentions in her blog that ‘it's FOR YOU that the CJA is running its annual Awards program, and I want YOU to participate and to WIN AWARDS!’ (Her capitalizations)

  I don’t mean to seem rude to the CJA president and former Woman’s World Chess Champion, but c’mon Alexandra!! If you really wanted ME to ‘WIN AWARDS’, you could have left the deadline as it was and I’d have a better chance to ‘WIN AWARDS’. The least the CJA could have done was to mention a reason for extending the instead of just breezily pretending that there was no extension at all.

  How can groups that pull this kind of stunt have any integrity? How can anyone ever take their deadlines seriously? What kind of message does this send to people like me that sent in their entries on time? I suppose if there were enough people like me that respected deadlines, there wouldn’t have been a deadline extension. After the fiasco of my asking the judge (personally but anonymously) in 2006 what he thought of my submission and being told he never heard of it, I feel like I’ve gotten fooled twice. Well, shame on me but the CJA has seen its last penny from my pocket.

  I did manage not to get fooled twice on another more important front. I worked for Fisher Controls in Marshalltown from 2008 to 2010 as a contractor for Robert Half. As a contractor, I agreed to work for the company for 2 years for a set wage. I enjoyed working so close to home, but in the middle of 2009, Fisher decided to cut all the contractors pay. They weren’t losing money, just not making enough. It was described to us as a ‘win-win’ since by agreeing to a lower wage we all got to keep our jobs. I saw how it was a ‘win’, but missed the part about how it was a ‘win-win’ (I had the wrong perspective). Then Fischer ended up letting many of the contractors who took a pay cut go anyway (No, they did not give them back the pay they’d given up in order to keep their jobs a few months prior). I’m sure they saw that as a ‘win-win-win’. Once the company showed they felt no obligation to be truthful or live up to their own obligations, I started looking for a job and a few months later got one.

  Since then, Fisher Controls has been making more money and has hired a recruiting company out of their parent corporation Emerson’s hometown to do their IT recruiting and look for programmers. I got an email from the recruiter letting me know of an opportunity in Marshalltown. I wrote back asking if the opportunity was full time or a contract position and how much it paid. I was told it was a long term contract and the salary was open and they would ‘pay the right amount for the right person’. Sounds like the old phrase ‘Salary based on experience’, which means the company’s experience in paying the least amount of salary. I wrote back and asked if the job came with any benefits and if the right amount went up to an absurdly high number I picked out of the sky and was told I could get full benefits ‘which can include 3 weeks paid time off, Medical, and Dental’ and also asking me if I was looking for the absurdly high number in addition to the benefits. I thought the word ‘can’ was odd since if it CAN include those benefits it also CANNOT include these benefits. At this point I called off the game and told the recruiter I wasn’t interested since I’d heard of an employer in Marshalltown who gave all their contractor pay cuts so they could keep their jobs and then laid them off a couple of months later anyway. I’m surprised this guy didn’t even bother to read my resume to see if I’d worked at Fisher or maybe he did, but his job was just to get me in the door, get his commission, and then who cares about me.

  It is always gratifying to be pursued by those that have wronged you in the past, but in my experience it’s foolish to expect different results from the same people. If I did go back to work at Fisher, as soon as the economy hit a bump or they decided they just weren’t making enough money, I’d be in the same situation I was 2 years ago. I wish this recruiter had called 2 months ago for a refresher course before I let myself get fooled for the second time by the Chess Journalists of America.