Monday, March 2, 2015

Changes For Luis

No one has ever accused me of being secretive or closed mouthed; but when it came to Luis' recent job separations, I refrained from making many Facebook posts about the matter.
Because I hadn't publicly documented what was going on, many people were surprised when I made posts related to his job search and I feel like it's time for me to explain the whole enchilada; but not in a Facebook post; right here, on "The Bumpy Ride", because this truly has been one!

A little background info first...  After Luis graduated from high school in Puerto Vallarta, he attended a school for tourism, where he took classes in English and hospitality management.  While living in Vallarta he held various jobs at different hotels and he worked for National Car Rental as a sales agent.  When we moved to Orlando in 1994, (shortly after we were married); he took a job as a front desk agent at a hotel and in no time at all, he worked his way up to Front Desk Manager,  When we moved to Arizona in January of 1997, Luis accepted a position as a front desk supervisor at a hotel (that I will just refer to as "the hotel" for the rest of this story.)  After a short time, he became the Assistant Front Desk Manager and in 2002 he was promoted to Front Desk Manager/ Manager on Duty.

Anyone who has ever met Luis in person can tell you how hard working and loyal he is. The hotel was often short staffed at the desk and Luis did the work of at least three people for many years.  He was an exemplary employee who always went above and beyond for his employers and guests and in reading further, that is something that I want to be sure you understand.

During the late summer of 2014 Luis told me that he believed that the owners of the hotel were looking to sell it. This wasn't something that they made public knowledge; it was just a conclusion that Luis had come to, based on the frequency of meetings the owners were having, with people who in Luis' estimation, looked like people who would buy the hotel.  By late fall, the owner did inform the staff that he was in the process of selling the hotel, and he let them know that he had no idea how that was going to effect the staff.    It's important to understand at this point, that the owners of  the hotel were also the managers.  They worked as the General Manager, Sales Director  etc. while the people who were interested in purchasing the hotel, were planning to do so as an investment and they were going to bring in a Management company rather than work there themselves; so the employees had no way of knowing if they would have jobs after the hotel was sold.

Luis was told that he needed to use up all of his vacation time before the end of November, and on his first day of vacation, he had to go in for a meeting with the company that the new owner had selected to manage the hotel.  Luis was prepared to interview for his position, but they told him that this was not meant to be formal, just a "getting to know you" type of meeting.  The personnel that Luis met with, gave him the impression that he was going to be retained to do his job and that there was room for growth for him within their organization.   Following this meeting, Luis attended a Manager's meeting and was given health insurance information and forms to complete.  On Wed. Dec. 17th, he met with HR to turn in his insurance forms; which is why I was so surprised when Luis called me on Friday Dec. 19th and whispered "It's not looking good.  They are calling several people into the owner's office and letting them go, and these are people who have been here a long time."

Luis went in to see the old owner (whose last day was supposed to be Mon. Dec. 22nd) and although he didn't let Luis go on the spot; he confirmed that it wasn't looking good.  It seemed that the new management company didn't want to pay the salaries that the long time employees such as Luis, had been receiving; nor did they want to have to pay for 4 weeks vacation etc.  So they let  go of the Breakfast Room Manager who had been there over 25 years, and the accountant who had been there 20 something, and the entire sales department, in addition to several others.  Then an hour before his shift was over on Dec. 22nd, Luis was called into the old owners office and just one month and 5 days before his 18th anniversary, he was let go.  He was told that that new management company was bringing in a "professional management team and his services were no longer required."

At first we were angry. We felt that this wasn't the way that a loyal employee should be treated, and we were frustrated that Luis was now unemployed after all of his years of dedication to the hotel owners.  But, upon reflection we realized that while the pay at the hotel was never great, the hotel allowed Luis flexibility with his schedule so that we never needed outside child care; and to us that was priceless.  While Luis didn't receive severance pay, he did  receive "a bonus", and this is much more than those who were let go after the old owner had left, can say; so for that we are grateful.

Luis started looking for a new job, as soon as the others were let go on the 19th.  He really didn't think that he wanted to work at another hotel; so he tried to find something different.  As one of Luis' responsibilities at the hotel had been to drive the airport shuttle as needed; he thought that he might enjoy a job that involved driving and he applied for a position at a produce company that was actually walking distance from our home.  Luis was quickly offered the position and began training, but during the second week of training, he found out that the company expected the drivers to sign a form accepting liability for any damage that was done to the truck while they were driving.  This concerned Luis, as he thought that's what insurance was for; and he didn't feel that he was being paid enough to take on such liability.

We believe things happen for a reason and two days before he was expected to sign the liability paper work; his trainer unavoidably damaged the truck, at a time that Luis should have been driving.  As soon as the truck was returned to the yard, the fleet manager and GM started assessing the damage and  estimated that it was going to cost the driver $1200-$1500, which they planned to take out of his pay check $100 at a time, until it was paid off.  Luis was devastated as THIS could have been his debt to owe, had he been driving as he was supposed to.  He told me that he didn't feel comfortable signing the paperwork and although he is not a quitter, he didn't feel that he had any choice.

He went to speak with the Night Manager to address his concerns and find out how to proceed and the very nice gentleman agreed with Luis and confirmed his decision not to drive.  The next morning, Luis went to see the General Manager and explained that had he been told about the liability when he initially interviewed for the position, he would not have accepted the job.  He asked if there was anything else that he might try within the company, but the GM said "not at this time." So again, Luis found himself unemployed.

Prior to this December, Luis hadn't been unemployed since 1997 and at that time, he was only without a job, because we relocated to Arizona.   Applying for a position now is so vastly different from how it was done 18 years ago; and it's been a real learning process for us; especially because Luis wanted to try to do something new.

Luis is such an extraordinary man with a kind soul and a gentle spirit.  The minute you are in his presence you know that he is exceptional; however, this can't be determined by a computerized job application or a psychological questionnaire or personality profile or whatever they want to call it. We KNEW that as soon as someone would give Luis the opportunity to interview in person, that he would be offered a position and we were right!!  Thus far, Luis has been offered a job EVERYWHERE that he has interviewed, but not all of those positions were ultimately right for him, as companies seem to want experienced people, but they don't want to pay for it, and it is difficult to support a family on $11 an hour or less.  I could go on - but this is already a long story (I know.)

Luis and I have been very blessed to have friends that have made job referrals on his behalf and have helped with interview coaching and decision making.  Luis is currently deciding between two positions that have been offered to him, by two National companies that have great reputations and room for advancement and relocation.  We are looking forward to him getting back to work this month and having a job that he enjoys.

Through this experience we have learned that although it can be scary, change can be good; and together there is nothing that we can't accomplish or get through!   While they always give us reasons to be proud, our children have proven themselves to be the most understanding, thoughtful, and brave kids that any parents could ask for.  We are grateful to all of our friends who have said prayers for us and encouraged us during this complicated time; and we feel confident that 2015 is going to end a lot better than it started!

Till next time...

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