Q. Three years ago I quit a marketing position with a national corporation and took a job with a small ad agency in a smaller city. I made this move because it is more important to me to be involved in raising my kids than to climb the corporate ladder.
When I negotiated my position, I made it clear that I would be staying in the same field by servicing just one specific longtime client and would bring to the agency years of experience on the corporate side of that business. I would take a significant cut in pay and benefits in exchange for a 35-hour work week, four weeks of vacation, flexible hours so that I could deliver and pick up children, and no "new business" responsibilities.
The boss agreed, and his decision has been rewarded. The client is happy to have a real professional rather than an adman dabbling in various accounts. The boss is happy because billing on the account has increased every year, as has profit. I've simply eliminated the frills and busywork that previously plagued the account, in favor of sound decisions and execution.
My problem is with staff employees, although I personally get along with all of them.
I am working under different strictures from the rest, and the differences occasionally grate.
I feel the attitudinal wrath when, twice each week, I leave at 3:30 to pick up my kids or take two hours at lunch to be a "room father." I also am the parent who primarily stays at home with a sick child. On the occasional Friday afternoon I take off to get a running start at a weekend building project.
All of this is within the bounds of my agreement, and the boss understands. Those who do not understand feel that sarcasm is an appropriate mode for greeting and farewell on these occasions. Two employees have made a series of specific comments, that I was obviously meant to hear, about their own lack of initiative being justifiable because "that's how it's done around here."
How do I make my position understood?
It would be embarrassing to require the boss to publish or publicize a summary of my special status.
A. Not only have you chosen a civilized life, but you want to keep your choice private. So why are they picking on you?
Such is the burden of a pioneer.
Hopefully employers someday will make it possible for everyone to manage a satisfying personal life while pursuing an interesting career, but your situation is a rarity.
Something will have to be said about it unless you want to go on enduring these barbs.
You needn't say it yourself; your boss can do so.
It is, after all, your boss's problem, too, as it seems to be affecting morale. The minimum explanation he can offer, if that is what you both decide you want, is some sort of public expression of his great satisfaction with what you are accomplishing.
The implication is that anyone else at the office who can be so productive under such circumstances is welcome to negotiate flexible working conditions with him.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.