Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I never set out to become an insurance broker. My father needed part-time assistance and I needed a job. Somewhere along the way, it became a career.

“I don’t know how you do this,” a new client once noted as I walked her through carrier chaos regarding submitted paperwork. “And with a smile,” she added.

“You either laugh or cry. I’d rather laugh,” I said as I pointed to a section she needed to complete.

Insurance sales is far from glamorous. No one, and I mean not a one, grows up aspiring to sell employee benefits. Indian Chief and Policeman are far more appealing. Plus, they both come with better accessories.

“Do you like what you do?” my mom once asked.

“I love where I work and the people I work with, so yeah.”

With my father at the helm, employees were treated like family. His partner always had a more miserly approach, but he was never the point of contact. Well, he wasn’t until January 1st of this year.

“December 31st will be my last day,” my dad announced on December 19th, three days before he left for Florida on a one-way ticket.

I went pale. His partner almost choked.

You see, my father had been handling everything: payroll, business expenses, property management. He cut all of the checks. When he was gone, I took over. And for the most part, I also managed the office. It was one of my original tasks that I never gave up. So, in between managing a book of business and prospecting new clients, it was my burden to research and order a new network printer along with paper and toner for said printer.

The feel in the office has been different since my father passed the torch. When he is in Philly, he still comes into the office every day and he still cracks jokes, lightening the mood. But there’s a general sense of panic and dread between the rest of us.

“I get the distinct sense I’m fall out from your decision to retire,” I said to my dad one afternoon when we were the only people left in the office.

His left eye twitched a little as I shared the evidence: snippy comments, a reduction in my commission split, and my monthly commission payout being withheld for over six months, something that I quickly learned was not occurring with any of the other employees.

“That is ridiculous. You need to say something,” he urged.

“No point. As you always asked: Would you rather be happy or right? I’d rather be happy.”

A few weeks later, as the dings continued to pile up, I worked harder to turn the other cheek. But today? Today I was yet again reminded that things have changed.

“This week is Diane’s five-year anniversary and Simon’s twenty-eighth birthday. Should we do a combined celebratory lunch?” my dad’s partner asked as he stood by my desk rifling through mail.

“Sure. Hey, this month marks my anniversary too. Thirteen years,” I noted with a little pride.

He chuckled a little. Then he spoke. “Yeah, well, you have technically only been on my payroll since January so that’s your anniversary to me.”


mysterygirl! said...

Well, good for you for accepting all that with a smile, because I'm feeling a little murderous just reading about it!

freckledk said...

The fuck?!

I'd like to think he can't do that. Can he do that?!

Again...the fuck?!

*jcg said...

i have so many thoughts and yet no words.

Anonymous said...

Old fashioned letter opener.

To the left eye. His.

(repeat as needed)

This made me grit my teeth so hard my jaw actually made a popping sound.

Sarah said...

New job. NOW.

MJones said...

He could kiss the roundest portion of my behind. WOW.

Snowcatcher said...

Oh, that bites. Kudos for you for hanging on. I don't think I could. Or would.

Here's hoping one day your contributions will be appreciated...

Anonymous said...

if you asked me to guess what your profession was, never in a million years would i have said insurance broker ;) and coincidence i'd never heard the "happy or right?" question before this past couple of weeks. now i've seen it used twice. i'd go with happy every time, i think. that's why i may end up selling starbucks in a month or so. had it up to the sky with crap around here lately. oh and that dude in your office has a name and it rhymes with rick. i'm with @sarah. i too need a new job. NOW.

Lilly said...

Here's a middle-of-the-road suggestion I once gave to The Ex and it worked like a charm (of course it's a bit risky): Tell "Rick" (ahem) that you're looking around for other positions, just mention it to him casually as if you're *considering* going elsewhere. Call in one day or let him know you've got an interview and will be late...

You see where this is going, right? It will make him start thinking about what that really means and hopefully feel like shitting his pants when he suddenly recalls how much you do around there and perhaps things will change for the better.

Of course it could backfire too. ???

freckledk said...

I'm STILL thinking about this, and am STILL upset about it. Keep me posted, will you? And call me if you need a vent. Love you!

Bathwater said...

He does sound unreasonable. You need to talk to him he doesn't seem to appreciate what you do. I would call him out on it.

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry.

Congratulations on 13 years. I shall buy and consume a cupcake in your honor.

Anonymous said...

Hey maybe Mr. generous, thoughtful one will buy you a new red stapler and move you to the basement!

CBC said...

Go. Write. Now.
And be happy.