9 July 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

I pulled a fast one on my employer

By mid-March, I had all the documents I needed for my trip to Salt Lake City, US, coming up in May. My US visa (valid for two years) was ready and that's pretty much the most difficult piece of travel credential to secure. Earlier on in the year, I'd been selected by my managers who were proud of my work on the USSD banking to be part of a 5-man delegation to the US. The trip was for an IT training, which would empower the staff (us) to provide better technical support for a certain portion of the company's network infrastructure.

However, by this time, I was at the point where I just knew it was time to go. I was fed up with the state of things and was hungry for a career and life reboot. At the times when I was most unhappy about my work situation and felt like walking out right away, I would console myself with the story that I was only waiting around for the upcoming freebie trip to God's own country. Come to think of it, my first trip ever out of Africa was also sponsored by this company. That was back in September 2016; a 3-day trip to Dubai for a card fraud management training (now, I feel bad).

To exacerbate things, I secured a place in another company in April, just a couple of weeks before the trip. In the time between, I considered many a time whether or not to inform my current employer of my impending resignation before the trip. If I mentioned it before the trip, of course, I risked losing a rare opportunity to see the US for the first time. If I did not and returned from the US trip, only to quit right after, I risked earning myself a reputation of a cunning jackass. My managers would surely be disappointed by my borderline shady conduct; like I took advantage of their goodwill. After all, there were hundreds of other 'loyal' staff who would twerk in exchange for my place on the delegation.

Of course, being a simple human whose first instinct is to look out for himself, it did not take long for me to settle on a tenable justification for keeping mum about my new offer until after the trip. I told myself that sending me on this trip was the least my employer could do to appreciate my brilliant work over the past one year; that I deserved it. For several months prior, every day, I would observe the regular growth in returns that was being powered by my work and compare it with my salary which remained at the same paltry sum it had been since I joined the company over a year ago. To make matters worse, according to HR policy, the earliest time I could have expected a (non-guaranteed) promotion was all the way in 2018, or maybe 2019. I didn't really care as I was damn sure I wasn't sticking around for another year on my current pay grade. Goddamit!

Betrayal (Attribution: https://us.123rf.com/)

I hoped that I wouldn't be asked to sign a bond to remain with the company for a certain period of time, after the trip (or otherwise pay a refund), as is sometimes the case in these scenarios. You know, everyone likes to protect their investment and knows how volatile staff can be. Fortunately, that did not happen. But I even if it did happen, I would have gone ahead to sign it, with the intention of paying the refund if the amount was not outrageous by my judgement. I really wanted this! Who knew when next I'd have the chance to travel on a platter of gold like this?

It wasn't long before the long anticipated May rolled by. The prior few weeks had been pretty stressful at work. So there could have been no better time to get a break from work. As the day got closer, I received congratulations and constant reminders from my colleagues about how fortunate I was. Some told me that they had prepared a list of stuff I was going to bring back for them from the US. I told them to send it to my email, but no one did. Of course, I made sure to inform not even one of my colleagues about my impending resignation. No, no way I was missing out on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

My trip to the US was all I could wish for and more. My hosts in the US were very kind people who went out of their way to help us enjoy a wide variety of experiences in the short time we were there (one week). For that, I'm truly grateful to my last employer for the opportunity. Irrespective of whether I thought I deserved it or not, there is nothing I could have done if I'd not been nominated for the trip. I definitely did not win the reward by being the most hardworking or exemplary staff of the company anyway.

This one-week all-expense-paid stay in Utah, US from 7th to 14th May 2017 was easily one of the best periods of my life ever. I felt liberated and every day saw me wake up happy and excited to go put some exploration idea in motion. I came away from the trip with a resolve to travel out of my home country more often, just for the sake of departing from the familiar. My budget now contains a sizeable allocation to travel. I've been writing about my experience in Salt Lake City, Utah, US.

I resumed work at the office just two days after my return to Lagos. And that same day, I overcame my shame-fueled inhibition and informed my boss that I would be leaving the company in short order. There was no point delaying the communication. It's not like if I had waited a couple of weeks after the trip to do this, it would've been much less of a betrayal than it was. My direct manager was an understanding man, having moved through several companies himself. He took the news in stride.

If I had the chance to go back in time, I wouldn't change a thing about my decision to bail just after enjoying an expensive privilege from my employer; all situations being what they were. My self-justification that I deserved this compensation for my non-commensurate remuneration was stronger than the guilt I felt from pulling a fast one on my employer. There were four other people on the same training anyway, so the company definitely was not missing out on much, as far as the knowledge/skill acquired on the trip is concerned.

What do you think? What would you do if you found yourself in my shoes tomorrow? Should I have taken a more morally justifiable course of action? I'd like to read from you.

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