Low-ball offer

Dan has been offered a job. This is extraordinary, since he's only been out of work for two months. He has turned over a layoff this fast once before, finding a new job before he had to leave the old one. But the problem is the offer is a low ball. By which I mean that it's a $20,000 pay cut, two weeks vacation, a very iffy bonus (his last job was a 25% bonus if goals were met) and no stock options -- another $17,000 cut from last year. All of this I'm willing to live with. We can get by, though our retirement and college savings might suffer. The only aspect that really bothers me is the minimal vacation. It's what a kid out of college would be offered.

A couple of times we've waited out the first year of one of his jobs with meager days off -- one week in the first year. It means we don't visit our families at Christmas, and that our daughters and I have invented what we call "girl trips." Meaning that I take them on trips by myself rather than miss out altogether. Niagara, Washington, DC, Sturbridge Village. They're sweet memories, but they leave me exhausted. Don't get me started about how we're never going to Disney World. Yeah, OK. I have an entitled attitude.

What middle class family doesn't want to go to Disney World once while the kids are young? Dan won't bump up to 15 days vacation for five years. Our daughters will be in high school.

It's not only the particulars of this job offer that have me steamed, but the way in which it's been laid out. It took 2-3 weeks for them to make the offer, after Dan took a drug screening. Who moves that slowly? I wonder if they were trying to make him sweat, make him more desperate, so they could get him cheaper.

They won't tell him the generally accepted work hours, which is maddening. I don't get out until 6 or 6:30 p.m., kind of a late day. How do we know we'll be able to pick up the girls from after-school care every night? It closes at 7, and I have a half-hour drive from my office. This company makes out like it's unreasonable for Dan to ask these questions or to negotiate on the vacation.

He's got interviews with two other companies lined up in the next six days. One interview is the third time he's spoken with the company. But the unemployment rate keeps climbing. Do we dare risk it?