Hi. I’m not LeSombre. I’m a guest blogger who appreciates the opportunity to post something here somewhat anonymously. More on that later. But first — I want to tell you a about what happened to me this past Monday.
I’m your average person between 30-40 years old. Close to ten years ago, I decided to make a career change to something very new and very different from what I had been doing before. By a few strokes of bizarre chance, luck, and simply being nice to the right people at the right time, I found myself a job working closely with the Interwebs. It was with a small company that I had only heard of — but things were progressing to the point where it was ripe for acquisition by a bigger company.
And so it did a few months after I was hired. I learned a lot on the job. I raced to the head of the pack rather quickly and took on some further responsibilities as a technical trainer. Although the company name changed several times, my workplace and general job remained a constant. Like many folks, there are days that I dread going to work yet months that I smile at the notion of being in a job with a good fit.
Which brings us to Monday: we were all called into an all-hands meeting. Our director and VP, who are based in another city, were already in the room — this was not going to be good. Especially because they usually would mill about the troops informally before their meetings. We sat down around the room for the meeting. It began and ended quickly.
Our director cut to the chase: effective May 1, our center would be shutting down. The work would be moving to a different company center in Ohio. Why? “Realignment” purposes. (e.g. It’s a better fit that way; It’s not us; it’s them.) But they care very much about us and will try to help us find other positions in the company. Oh — and there are positions available doing the very same jobs in Ohio for those who want to make a new home in a land far, far away.
Not quite the news that anyone wants to hear, but certainly not first thing on a Monday morning.
Look — as far as all of this goes, I’m lucky. Very lucky. I’ve had this gig for nearly a decade. I’ve seen friends and colleagues let go from their jobs at the drop of a hat. I”m married to a wonderful partner with a wonderful career and wonderful job benefits. I have a roof over my head and a very supportive network of family and friends. In a time when unemployment and underemployment is at levels not seen in decades, I’m doing quite well.
But still? This blows. It hurts. Perhaps it’s because I have been lucky and haven’t had the experience of being fired like this before. I’m probably taking this far too personally, but I foolishly didn’t see myself as a pawn, one of many tens of thousands in the company, who is herded up with others and moved around (and off) the board regardless of my own specific performance. I certainly need a thicker skin in that regard.
Does anyone watch Torchwood? There’s an episode in the first season entitled They Keep Killing Suzie. You’ll have to suspend some reality for Torchwood on any account, but in this episode they bring someone back to life who was killed by a gunshot wound to the head. As her body gradually repairs itself, it’s taking away the life-force of the person who brought her back, making her suffer the same fate. As her headache progressively gets worse and worse and she feels blood trickling out the back of her head, she’s told exactly what’s happening: she’s encountering the feeling of getting shot in the head. In very, very, very slow motion. And there’s nothing she can do to stop it. No way she can dodge the bullet. The inevitable will happen. Very slowly.
It hasn’t been the perfect job. Not by far. But I know exactly what to expect day in and day out. I know which people will make me smile, which will make me laugh, which will make me roll my eyes and which will make me want to jump onto a table and scream. I know, generally, what’s expected of me every day, and I know what amount of money will be direct deposited into my bank account every two weeks. I know where I stand with my colleagues and my superiors.
The unknown scares me.
And I’m not alone. We were later told that the May 1 date may actually be June 1. Or July 1. But they’re not sure. It’s sending my co-workers into a flurry of decisions to make: Although moving to Ohio is not an option for me, some are considering it. What are housing prices like? What are the schools like? Will my significant other be able to get a job? Will this job last more than six months? For those of us not contemplating a move, there are also decisions to be made: do we look at one of the other (scarce) positions within the company? Do we look outside the company? Who do we tell? Are our friends truly our competitors for these same jobs? It’s driven us crazy.
And it’s only been day two.
I’m fairly sure that this is going to work out okay for me in the end. I’ll find a job somewhere doing something. It may come before our center shuts down; it may be months after my severance pay runs out. There will never be any guarantees that this will be the right job for me, nor that it will be a job which will last a decade like this last one has. You know what? I work with a whole bunch of talented people. We may stumble a bit, but on the most part we’ll all land on our feet.
Yet work today felt like everything was proceeding in slow motion. Tick… Tock… Tick… Tock… As much as I truly desired to throw myself into my workload and just get my job done, my mind was racing: What next? Am I proceeding at the right pace? It’s been 26 hours since the announcement and I don’t have a job lined up yet. Am I doing something wrong? The whispers of co-workers around me, some of whom are sharing their plans with me and some of whom are holding their cards close to their chests. What do they know that I don’t know?
There are 66 days until the First of May. I truly hope not all of them feel like a painfully slow shot to the head.
As for the anonymity thing: there’s a good chance you’ve determined who I am. That’s fine. I’m not trying to keep my job situation a secret from anyone. I simply wanted to place a layer of sorts between my own blog (which can be linked to my name) and this topic in case, for instance, any prospective employers want to put my name into a Google search. But yes — if you think you know who this is, you’re probably correct. 🙂 Please use appropriate discretion if you decide to comment here. Thanks.