I’ve mentioned a time or two here on the blog that I’ve been feeling extra stressed out lately. And the amount of posts I’ve been writing has really dropped the last few months. Part of that is due to having other priorities, but part of it has been that I haven’t been able to figure out a good way to write anything that didn’t sound complain-y while still writing from a place of wholeness, if that makes any sense. I didn’t want to write yet about what was going on, mostly because it was all still a mess, but I also didn’t want to just write as if nothing was happening. Happily, we think we’re through the worst of it now and feel alright opening up about it a little bit. So, for any of you who care, here’s what’s been going on.
Last September, Terry’s work stopped paying him.
No reason. No warning. They just stopped.
At first, it didn’t seem any different. They’ve been late on our salary every single month since we started working for them. They gave some lame excuses about the logistics of payroll being different in China than it is in America. Whatever. We learned to live with it. So when our salary didn’t come through for a month or two, it wasn’t the first time. But that stretched to three months. Then three and a half. Then four.
Of course, we weren’t just silently letting this happen. Terry was all over it, talking with the general manager and other supervisors about how he hadn’t been paid yet. They assured him they’d pay him, right away. And after talking with a few other employees it was clear that we weren’t the only ones working without getting paid. Everyone was in the same boat, but knew they’d be getting their money soon. And eventually, everyone did get their money. Everyone except us.
Finally, at the beginning of January, Terry told them he wasn’t coming in again until he was paid everything he was owed. The GM was apologetic and understanding and again assured us he’d get right on that.
After about a week of Terry being home, they deposited a month’s salary in our account. I think they expected that to be good enough to get Terry to come back in. Uh, I don’t think so, buddy. We decided to wait them out. We bugged them every day about the money we were owed. Pretty soon they stopped answering our texts. And emails. And phone calls.
Finally the GM agreed to meet with Terry to sort it all out. And he basically told Terry “we don’t want you anymore.”
Enter a lot of anger. And stress. And heartbreak. And anxiety. And hate. And stress. And crying into my pillow. And talking with lawyers. And stress. And negotiations. And renegotiations. And hysterical breakdowns when they refused to sign what they’d agreed to in renegotiations. And silence. And waiting. And still more stress.
Finally, after 4 months of Terry working without pay, 2 months of negotiating, 1 month of waiting for them to make good on their word, and a whole heart full of trouble, they paid us. It amounts to them laying him off, with a small amount of severance. But it felt worlds away from that.
Terry and I sat down at the beginning of all this and talked about how we wanted to do the “getting through it” part. We knew it’d be ugly. We hoped it’d be quick. It ended up being much worse than either of us thought. But we went into it looking at it as an opportunity (or at least, trying to look at it that way). How nice that Terry could be home with me and Sander for a while. How nice that he didn’t have to go back to work for this company that had treated him so poorly. How nice that Terry now had time to hang out with us when my sister and her husband came to visit. How nice that he now had time to look for a job full-time (as we’d planned on getting a new job this summer anyway).
I wish I could tell you we hung on to that outlook pretty well, and we did some of the days. But unemployment is rough. Always. It’s discouraging and stressful, even if you realize as you’re going through it that it may be opening doors to you that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Happily, that’s exactly what happened.
Terry started applying for jobs right away. He worked his butt off buffing up his resume, working his network, scanning job sites, on and on and on. (He, by the way, handled the stress of all this much better than I did. Someday I can tell you all about the nervous breakdowns I had and how Terry just patted my knee and let me freak out, while frantically sending out yet another text about getting our payment. He’s a gem, that man.)
One of the jobs he applied for was sent to him through a network he has here in China. He read me the description and the location. I told him not to apply for it. He did anyway.
He had an interview for it a few weeks later. And a second interview the next day. And an informal offer right then. And the more we talked about it, the better and better it seemed, despite my initial misgivings. In fact, once he’d had the interviews and had a better idea of what all it involved, it sounded downright amazing.
It’s been in the works for the last couple of months – we had a few other things we were still looking at, and an offer elsewhere that would put us on a totally different trajectory, but in the end, this is what has felt like would be the best thing for our family.
And so, I’m tickled to announce, that we are moving once again.
This time, to Shanghai.
I have to say, I’m a little surprised by this. I was dead set on leaving China after everything we’d been through. And that broke my heart a little, because I didn’t want to leave here being bitter. But I did want to leave. ? I told Terry that if we were to stay in China, I absolutely had to see Shanghai for myself before I could agree to it. As it happens, Shanghai is literally the only place in China I was willing to even consider moving to.
So last month, we took a little trip up to Shanghai.
And. We. LOVED. It.
Not even just really liked it! We absolutely loved it! It was so easy to get around with the metro, people there spoke English and were less pushy than they are here, there was incredible food every way we turned, there’s an Old Navy!!! (That may not mean much to you if you haven’t been living out of the country for three years, but trust me, the fact that there’s a place that stocks pants that I actually might fit into is a huge plus. #idontgotnoasianhips). There were fun things to do all over the place – parks, museums, tours, amazing views. The people we met at church were people we instantly clicked with. There are grocery delivery services that are entirely in English. There’s an entire fleet of scooterists just waiting for your restaurant order to hit their website so they can bring it to your door 45 minutes later.
So. We’re doing this, folks. In fact, we leave in about a week.
Huzzah for another adventure!